From the second you enter The Boisdale’s private lift, you know you are in for a night of luxury and opulence. The deep crimson fabric that lines the personal lift continues as a theme through the passageway and the rest of its grand layout. The restaurant is nestled in the heart of Canary Wharf and, if you’re as lucky as we were to grab a window seat, you can look over the high rises and watch the sun set. The underlying theme to The Boisdale, which is one of three restaurant run by the owners across London, is Scottish: it is present in the classic menu, their Scottish beef, the whisky collection and its classic, heavy décor. Their reputable whisky collection is extremely extensive; there are over 900 types of whisky on offer ranging from £7.50 to £1380 for a double.
Visiting The Boisdale on a Friday night promised an enticing atmosphere and it certainly did not disappoint.The tables were filled, the live band was playing, and the wine was flowing. The lighting had been carefully considered in a mix of low light and candles so as to create a warm, vibrant setting. The staff were all professional, knowledgeable and very efficient. Rich the maître d’, who looked after us for most of the evening, undoubtedly deserves a mention. He was consistently professional yet had a sense of humour and was completely approachable.
One of The Boisdale’s main specialities is its emphasis on live music, which changes daily. From jazz to The Rolling Stones tribute bands, guests often book tickets in advance so as to ensure a good seat to see their favourite artists. We were extremely fortunate to visit The Boisdale on Soul Night (Fridays). We were treated to a live performance of The Thomas Brown Affair, who were flawless. They effortlessly achieved a perfect balance of popular songs – Georgia on my Mind being a personal favourite, creating an upbeat, lively atmosphere yet nonintrusive.
I feel completely compelled to dedicate a full paragraph wholly to their cocktails. The selection was immense but usefully divided into categories such as ‘Martini’, ‘Eye Openers’ and ‘Aperitifs’. I had the pleasure of tasting two of the best cocktails I’ve ever had at The Boisdale. The aperitif was an Old Cuban: lemon juice, mint, rum and champagne. It was light but extremely tangy due to the citrus, and the champagne provided a smoothness to the whole beverage. To accompany dessert, I tried the Royal Cadillac, a concoction proposed by the cocktail maker who specifically approached our table so as recommend the most appropriate cocktail to accompany my dessert. It turned out, unsurprisingly, to be the perfect match to my rich chocolate tart: orange juice, white chocolate liqueur, double cream, Galliano amongst other ingredients. Details such as these mean you leave The Boisdale feeling very satisfied and eager to return.
It should be emphasised that The Boisdale is somewhere to visit to taste British classics at their very best. Ingredients are always as local and fresh as possible. It does not specialise in creative cooking – although, as long as this is clear I don’t see anything wrong with that. Moreover, the menu is lacking in vegetarian options – I spotted one – but their salads look very appetising. My guest and I were mindful to pick an array of dishes so as to ensure to experience a cross section what The Boisdale has to offer. The choice of first courses is fairly limited. I picked the Wye Valley asparagus, Cumbrian air-dried ham, duck egg, grain mustards and honey dressing. The balance of flavours was delicious; a classic done very very well. My guest, on the other hand, picked Dressed Devonshire crab, chilled gazpacho, Marcona almonds, pickled cucumber. The gazpacho wasn’t quite gazpacho – but then they probably didn’t know they were catering to a lifelong expert in Spanish cuisine! The portions were quite small, but given the delight that was coming, it is only a good thing.
Our main courses were of exceptional quality. I had fresh lobster – I was advised to take a full rather than a half lobster and it was definitely fantastic advice. The garlic, parsley and chilli sauce that accompanied it added a kick without detracting from the freshness and saltiness of the meaty lobster seafood. My guest had a 14oz sirloin steak. Despite being cooked well done, the meat still retained juiciness and flavour.
Side dishes appear to be a necessity, as the main courses are served relatively unaccompanied. All four side dishes we tried were large portions. Highlights include a deliciously rich creamed spinach with black truffles, while avoiding being overpowering. CLUMSY The truffle was a delicious addition to an otherwise quite frequently served dish. The avocado, Isle of Wight Heritage tomatoes and olive oil was also delicious, although the avocado was slightly under ripe.
The extraordinary element that sets the Boisdale apart from its competition is that the high quality restaurant is by no means the limit of its luxurious service. They host a prestigious members’ area, where one can join on a yearly basis and enjoy an exclusive seating area, select events such as wine tasting and even a 20% discount on every visit. For those not wanting to commit to a year-long relationship, there are many ways to enjoy The Boisdale: a formal meal like we did, a more relaxed atmosphere in the downstairs bar, smoothies made freshly to order (to take away or consume at the Boisdale IN HOUSE?) and light lunches.
I mentioned that opulence and luxury are a key characteristic of The Boisdale, and never was this more pronounced than with our tour of their cigar humidor. All detail has been considered in this area to ensure prime quality international cigars , imported from renowned locations such as Cuba and Nicaragua, and even The Boisdale Vintage Selection of aged cigars. As a guest you are permitted to smoke your cigar in a separate cosy lounge, which is possible due to a special license they have acquired but it does mean it must be done behind a closed door.
The Boisdale is a fantastic option for a luxurious British cuisine. Not only are their dishes of extremely high quality, but there are so many other features to the restaurant to ensure a good time: the second-to-none live music and the cigar humidor to name a few. Extensive details and booking is available on their website at www.boisdale.co.uk.