There are not many restaurants in London where you can arrive in style like taking a romantic ferry cruise to reach your restaurant. That is indeed the best way to reach Columbia restaurant via a short ferry cruise from Canary Wharf pier. The twinkling lights of the Canary Wharf towers are a sight to behold and resembles a mini-Manhattan skyline. The short cruise journey is the nearest London has to the grand canal experience of Venezia. It is a complimentary trip for restaurant diners and hotel guests.
Columbia restaurant is situated in the Doubletree by Hilton hotel and the carnevale atmosphere extends to the decor of the hotel. Unlike traditional Hilton hotels, which are more formal and austere. Here there are colourful couches and warm brickwork; the most striking part being their terrace area with relaxing couches and superb views of the Canary Wharf skyline.
As you would expect from a hotel restaurant, the quality of the food is assured and comforting here and offers an international menu that cater for all tastes. The sauté squid and chorizo is one of the best matched starters you will find on their menu; the squid is finely sliced and flavored well with the saltiness from the chorizo along with a healthy dose of rocket. For any mushroom lover, wild mushrooms on toast is a must-order dish; it might be simple in construction, but the beautifully foraged mushrooms are rich tasting and the flavours seep well into the toast.
The beef fillet was well-sourced and had great chew and beefiness on the palate. Although my guest did ask for medium and it was bordering on well done. The meat was still tender and went perfectly well with mushroom sauce and freshly grilled tomatoes and rocket. The lamb cannon was slightly too lean, but you can’t fault the quality. Being the eye of the loin, it is often considered the best cuts of lamb around for this type of dish. The warm bean salad, confit garlic and red wine jus that went with the dish was a heartwarming combination perfect for these still chilly early Spring nights.
Rarely do I find dessert being the best part of a meal, but the options they serve here are light, made with precision and well-portioned. The lemon posset has made quite the comeback in recent years. The texture here is substantial enough for you to stand a spoon in, yet silky enough for you to enjoy. The mild citrusy flavours seep well into the creaminess of the dessert. The classic apple and pear crumble is as good a version as you will ever find in London: the pears and apples are delicately roasted so they are still moist and gently warm whilst the chef must have added something akin to Jordans country crisp to give the crumble extra crunchiness.
You might have to take a ferry to reach Columbia restaurant, but it isn’t a journey into the unknown. It is cooking from assured hands in a welcoming hotel with character and stupendous views of the London skyline.