I might be stereotyping, but visits to Canary Wharf bars probably involve loud music, clambering over suited bankers to reach the bar and a neverending supply of red wine and tomahawk-sized steaks. Surprisingly, The Pagination breaks that mould (at least on the early weekday night I visited).
The bar used to be part of Corney and Barrow Bars but the new owners have revamped the decor to make a much warmer, inclusive environment. You can’t fault any venue that has blankets on every table on their spacious terrace and hot water bottles at the ready by the entrance.
Inside the space looks like your managing director’s luxury designer living room. There are cosy fur-covered seating, well-positioned green plants and plenty of warm pastel colours. Yes, bankers were present, but they were sipping on their glass of reserve wine quietly rather than boisterously blocking your access to the main bar.
Steaks are present on the menu although not the Tomahawk variety, but there are plenty of healthy options to choose from as well and also for those who prefer world cuisine rather than just standard British fare.
We opted for the vegetarian mezze board as a shared starter. It was very generously portioned with a fine selection of Middle Eastern classics like bulgur wheat salad, hummus, baba ghanoush, harissa, pickled chillies and olives. Particularly strong were the baba ghanoush with decent quantities of tahini, olive oil and various seasonings in the mixture and hummus which was very finely grounded. All these items did require some sourdough bread which thankfully was on their menu, although I think it should have been included in the sharing platter.
Service was extremely affable and accommodating, although they do need slightly more training as they struggled to answer questions about whether the bread was baked in-house or to explain the items on the mezze board.
I don’t think I’ve had a healthier main course in a long while than the chargrilled tuna salad at The Pagination. The tuna was lightly charred so that it was still pink in the middle and the dish came with a mountain of bean sprouts as well as green papaya, cucumber, peanuts and lime dressing. My guest opted for the most indulgent vegetarian main course possible: a halloumi burger with hummus, red pepper and portobello mushroom. It was also a well-portioned dish, which helps to dispel the myth that vegetarian dishes are not filling.
Apart from a decent selection of wines, craft beers and cocktails; it was interesting to see they also have the latest health drink craze: seedlip which is a botanical non-alcoholic “gin”. Definitely, one for the health-conscious to try out.