Set on the ground floor of the imposing Marriott Hotel in Canary Wharf, Manhattan Grill serves up serious steaks and fine wines.
Like most buildings in the area, the Marriott is tall, shiny and primarily steel and glass; characteristics which don’t automatically scream atmosphere and intimacy. However, Manhattan Grill’s interior designer has thrown enough soft furnishings and curtains around to soften the harsh edges, and while it still retains the slight feel of a hotel restaurant, it is largely a welcoming, relaxing and rather grand room. Big, comfy chairs provide the perfect pews to kick back and relax into whilst working through the inevitable meat sweats and loosening of belts.
As with the vast majority of Canary Wharf venues, the clientele is pretty much exclusively the after work crowd, meaning that Manhattan Grill knows exactly who its audience are and what they're after; namely high end steaks expertly sourced and cooked, and served by charming and knowledgeable staff. Unsurprisingly for Canary Wharf, the atmosphere is more 'management' than 'Manhattan', so this is a good place if you work nearby, but perhaps not one to travel to in search of a New York vibe.
The food on offer is as red blooded, masculine and moneyed as the atmosphere in the offices that surround. Sourced from the US, the steaks on offer here are big, brash and the prices mean business, with the 10oz fillet weighing in at a rather meaty £39. Whilst steaks are the stalwart here, there is also a nice selection of fish dishes to ease you in to your meat feast. Scallops served with a cauliflower and some crispy pancetta (£13) are just lovely and cooked to perfection - lightly brown on the outside but still translucent in the middle. Crab cakes (£12) are also impressive; full to the brim with fresh, sweet, tender crab and served with a very good tartare and refreshing salad.
For mains, steaks reign supreme, with all the usual suspects on offer. The kitchen takes the sourcing of the meat seriously, and having tasted much of the meat the world has to offer they settled on Creekstone Kansas USDA Black Angus, and, from closer to home, Scottish Aberdeen Angus. The Wing Rib (£29) is a a serious hunk of succulent meat served on the bone, with a beautiful smoky flame grill flavour and marbled fat that melts through it, this is meat with serious taste points. Steaks are cooked perfectly, in fact, so confident is the chef that you are asked to cut your steak when it arrives to check you are completely satisfied. Moving away from the steak, the rack of lamb with red wine sauce (£17) is again cooked perfectly, and served in a generous portion of perfectly prepared and executed sweet, tender lamb. The red wine gives a nice depth to the dish and the quality of the meat is clear in the taste.
You will need space for dessert, all are rich, stodgy and indulgent - in fact, a few lighter options wouldn't go amiss. However, Bettie's Bread Pudding with bourbon sauce and vanilla ice cream is delightful, moreish and satisfyingly more than enough to share.
The wine list is thoughtfully and cleverly designed. Manhattan Grill have invested in a wine preservation system which means fine wines can be opened but kept fresh, allowing you to sample a particularly fine wine without having to pay top dollar for the whole bottle. This makes the finest of wines a lot more accessible, and their partnership with Rothschild means there is a an interesting and tempting list to work through. The Le Dix De Los Vascoc 2008 from Rothschild, at £70 for a bottle (or a more accessible £14 a glass), is stunning; deep, fruity and perfectly balanced. Again the staff are extremely knowledgeable in this area, and are more than happy to offer their expertise and recommendations with charm.
The Last Word
If you are after a perfectly cooked, high quality steak to round off your business day, or entertain clients over some fine wine, the Manhattan Grill delivers nicely.