City slickers - Roll up! Roll up! The funfair is in town. Or at least the themed cocktail menu at The Parlour suggests so. This is part of the impressive Drake & Morgan chain offering brunch, lunch and dinner and an inventive list of drink concoctions in the heart of the financial district.
Just a couple of minutes from Canary Wharf station and in prime position round the trimmed square lawn of Canada Square stands this eclectic eaterie, a part of the City-slanted Drake & Morgan group. An array of chairs and tables make up the large outdoor terrace. Heaters are on full blast for chilly evenings and trees and large striped umbrellas provide shade on sunny days. Summer months are entertaining with live music and use of the huge outdoor bar. Glass windows and doors surround the interior and give a huge sense of space, and once indoors, industrial vents decorate the ceiling and The Parlour is divided into a conservatory-style dining room, a cocktail area and a lower lounge level.
A Scandinavian twist prevails - sharp contrasts of white with acid colours are softened by the candlelit glow come evening. Tables in the dining area hold large herb pots wrapped in newspaper. The cocktail area has rows of high wooden refectory tables to rest drinks on, with surrounding stools to perch upon, while the lower lounge has small sofas and two beautiful weaved hanging loungers to swing on. The huge open kitchen adjacent to the dining room gives a fluidity between the chef and customer, and huge wooden bowls of seasonal vegetables on display add a fresh, organic feel to the food.
Loyal visitors are a City crowd, clad in slick black office wear. Groups clutch midweek cocktails and huddle excitedly around the terrace, whilst the weekend brings a mix of tourists and City dwellers into the mix. The staff here buzz around excitedly, only too happy to suggest menu or drinks choices, giving the impression they really have sampled the lot. However, booking for dinner is essential as The Parlour fills up quickly and the place can get rammed - so no intimate first dates, here! The music is eclectic and spans a few decades, but makes for a pleasant background with some evenings offering a live DJ.
The menu alone will take you a while to sift through but is helpfully divided into sections. Small plates make great starters to share. The sundried tomato and parmesan croquettes (£5.95) have a lovely homemade taste and the tempura crispy squid (£5.95) is given a fiery hit with tangy ginger and firecracker sauce. Burgers are a hit here and come served on a retro, small red tray in American diner style. They are damn tasty, with spot-on seasoning and a choice of smoky cheese and bacon. You could easily add a few side dishes too - the truffle, parmesan and rosemary fries £4.25 are amazing; they melt in the mouth and are worryingly addictive. Whilst the innovative courgette shoestring fries baked with a delicious crumb coating make for a lighter alternative. Puddings here are super indulgent. Sample a few in the trio package; retro strawberry trifle, super creamy toffee creme brûlée and warm chocolate brownie. Just make sure to ask for two spoons.
Offering mixology master classes from £25 per person, this chain operates on cocktail confidence and bases many of the cocktails on a traditional fairground theme. The Poptail (£8.95 - also offered as a “skinny” cocktail for those calorie-counting) comes in a soda-pop-style bottle complete with candy striped straw, and The Goldfish In a Bag certainly causes a few “oohs” as it arrives. Served in a plastic bag, it’s a luscious sharp blend of gin, Hangar 1 mandarin vodka, bitters and tonic, complete with floating pink grapefruit fish and edible lily pads. Wine lovers: fear not - there are over 50 carefully selected white, red and rose wines to choose from.
The Last Word
With prestigious high rises and fast-paced employees stampeding Canary Wharf, it’s hard to find some respite. The Parlour has the luxury of an amazing outdoor green space for the taking and a bright large interior. Paired with great food and superb cocktails, it’s a true City gem.