We have visited a number of the Boisdale chains and have always been pleased with the food quality and atmosphere.
On this particular occasion Boisdale were holding a competition to win a goodie bag worth up to £100, a glass of champagne and the best seats in the house on their jazz night. As this had been promoted regularly we were not surprised when we were chosen as we assume that almost everyone, if not everybody were chosen.
Any how we choose a Thursday when we were free and set off to Canary Wharf, to be honest I did not know that there was a Boisdale there but it does make sense considering their target audience. We managed to find the place after getting lost a number of times in the shopping mall as it is well hidden on the ground floor rather conspicuously in the shopping mall.
The bright light modern shopping mall in Canary Wharf has no personality and friendliness to it so we were surprised to turn the corner and find the sign for the restaurant which looked more like an entrance to the public toilets. We pressed the lift to go to the restaurant as outlined on the floor wall and when these opened we were amazed at the contrasting difference. The hall way to the restaurant was huge! Very much like a hunting lodge with red velvet, mounted deer heads and mirrors all around.
The cloak room is the first thing that you encounter and we quickly hung our coats up in anticipation and were shown to our table. The restaurant again is huge and very male dominating as are all of the Boisdale restaurants, here in Canary Wharf it was in just the right setting. Across the walls were mounted heads, old fashioned photographs and antique trinkets and the carpet was a deep red matching the whole area. The restaurant was filled with tables sparsely arranged so as not to encroach on the other diners which was a nice change from the meat market restaurants that often line Canary Wharf. The domineering bar was to one side of the restaurant filled with some first rate wines, champagnes and whiskies which I am sure some of the more flamboyant bankers enjoy on the occasional visit. Across the other side was a huge window that over looked the financial district. It was a breath taking view and I had trouble taking my eyes of it, with the towering buildings lit up in the night sky and reflecting in the quay.
We were taken to the very front of the restaurant where there were a number of tables reserved for two diners with ‘goodie’ bags in them. They must have these completion nights every Thursday as I had a pick of dates to the foreseeable future and there must have been six or eight tables this night.
We had front seats on to the stage where the live act was supposed to start in an hour or so. We were asked if we wanted anything to drink and we pointed to the bottle of red that was in the bag that had been advertised in the competition but we were told that actually this was to be taken home and not to be consumed at the table. Slightly bemused if you ask me, clearly its just a way just to pull in the punters and make them spend more than they had planned. I would go as far as to say it was false advertising although they specifically did not say we could drink the bottle of Boisdale red wine given to us on the night they certainly did not say that we could not. It was at the very least misleading. We were then asked if we were eating which we had not really planned as we thought we were going to have free drinks and jazz night but said yes as we were slightly peckish however we felt a little down as we knew we were being taken for a ride as this was all planned and the point was to make people come and get as much money out of those fools as possible.
We ordered a bottle of sauvignon blanc and looked through the goody bag which consisted of a Boisdale jazz CD, some chocolates, a miniature bottle of whisky and the red wine. I cannot see how that was close to £100 (especially afterwards as we later found out the wine was really pretty disgusting.) Begrudgingly we decided to order the rump steak with chips and vegetables; I went for a peppercorn sauce whereas my friend went for the béarnaise. We enjoyed the wine, the views and the conversation and the steaks came out pretty quickly. I have to say I am a massive fan of the Boisdale steaks which are always cooked to perfection. They were generous in size, juicy and not fatty at all. Delicious. The chips were thick with fluffy potato in the center and crisp on the outside and the vegetables consisted of spinach and kale if I remember correctly. These were well seasoned yet from my perspective slightly over cooked.
As our dishes were taken away the music started which was a band of four with a lady singing and three men playing bass and other jazz instruments (please excuse my ignorance but I have not a cell of music talent in my entire body) with a retro looking man in a Hawaiian T shirt and straw hat also coming in with the vocals. The music was chirpy 1950’s American swing and the costume was retro America – maybe even Hawaii with their get up. It was nice and we certainly had the best seats in the house to watch this however we still had the bitter taste in our mouth that we had been duped into a rather expensive night.
Although the food was not mandatory it was not a question of being tight as we do love eating at the Boisdale and would have probably have made the decision to eat anyway but it felt as if we had been forced into that decision. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful as the seats were good and we did get a goody bag it is more a question of transparency. We decided to leave at the interval as it was getting late but by then the waiters had lost interest in us as we had eaten and been served so it took some time to get the bill which was slightly irritating after 15 minutes or more. I ended up having to walk over to a staff member and asking for it in the end which is always a little embarrassing if you ask me.
This experience has certainly not put us off the Boisdale restaurants as we love the food and the atmosphere and in a way at least we have found the Canary Wharf one as we love the views and set up, but we do have to say their sales tactics were not favorable, reminding us of the lengths corporations go to make that extra few pounds and will remain with us for some time yet.
It’s a shame as there is so much positive in this review.
Food Atmosphere Service