Offering the best choice of good beer on the Canary Wharf estate, with the possible exception of the off licence shelves in Waitrose, this is also a great place to take in one of London’s most extraordinary districts.
The towering contemporary development around the disused West India and Millwall Docks at Canary Wharf on the Isle of Dogs might not be to everyone’s aesthetic or political taste, but its developers have pulled off a minor miracle over the past few years. Not so much in creating a whole new international business district that’s decisively shifted the London skyline eastwards, but in ensuring it’s a place people want to go outside business hours. While London’s traditional financial quarter, the City, sleeps through the weekend, Canary Wharf remains abuzz, and not just with workaholic office drones. People come to shop in the malls that thread under and around the office buildings, to enjoy outdoor entertainment or to stroll around the docks, through the surprisingly attractive gardens and along the riverside.
As you’d expect the retail experience is dominated by big chains, though thankfully at least one of them offers more than the bland and the mainstream. The Henry Addington is part of Mitchells and Butlers Nicholson’s estate, which has done its best to create something like a genuine pub atmosphere on the ground floor of a 1990s block flanking Canary Wharf Tower. Inside there’s a long and spacious wood panelled single bar, with a mix of seating on two slightly different levels including high stools, conventional tables and sofas. It’s comfortable if a little fake, and boosted enormously by the outdoor terrace, where umbrella tables line up along the edge of what remains of the 1802 West India Middle (Export) Dock. Henry Addington, by the way, was a doctor’s son who became a Tory politician, and was prime minister at the time the docks were built.
Understandably popular with the more discerning employees of neighbouring financial firms during the week, the place attracts a more mixed crowd at weekends – shoppers, tourists, leisure visitors and well-heeled locals from nearby housing. Staff are generally friendly and the place just about achieves the feel of a proper pub.
Expect the standard Nicholson’s menu of enhanced pub grub at slightly steep prices. A full cooked breakfast is £6.45 with both standard and vegetarian options and main courses might include grilled sea bass fillets (£11.95), half a roast duck (£12.95), veg or meat sausages and mash (£7.95) or a choice of three pies and mash (from £9.45). There are also several steak options. During the day there’s sandwiches (£6-£7 including chips or salad) and light lunches like pressed pork and sage terrine (£7.45) or a warm halloumi salad (£7.95).
The real ales are the big attraction with up to seven dispensed from handpumps to Cask Marque standards, plus a real cider. Regulars Fuller’s London Pride, Sharp’s Doom Bar and St Austell Tribute are supplemented by a selection from Nicholson’s seasonally changing guest ale list which stretches to microbrewers like Acorn, Cropton, Itchen Valley, Moor, RCH, Roosters, Stonehenge and White Horse, at around £3.70 a pint. Standard keg beers are given extra interest by the presence of Pilsner Urquell, Franziskaner wheat beer and Suffolk Blonde lager, while several tasty options in the fridge include Meantime, Budvar, and Erdinger and Vedett wheat beers. You might also catch an occasional Meet the Brewer event. Over 25 wines are listed, including many by the glass (175ml £3.20-£5.25), mainly from the new world but with the odd European.
The Last Word
A welcome option if you’re in the area, it’s definitely at its best on sunny days when you can lounge on the terrace watching the dinky Docklands Light Railway wind through some of London’s tallest towers as you shake off fears of a double dip recession.