By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Somehow it seems that scathing restaurant reviews are always the most fun. Not so much for the writer (negative reviews are no easier to write) but, in fact, for the reader, and proof comes with the fact that some of the most revered food writers are also the most outrageously unforgiving. Let’s face it, there’s only so many times that you can enjoy reading 500 words of drivel that describes every single specific detail of a restaurant’s perfection is less exciting than reading a hilariously acerbic account of horrendous dining experiences. Every so often, however, an anomaly comes along and leaves it almost impossible to find the slightest of scandalous details to slip into our reviews.
This is very much the case with Plateau, located upon the fourth floor of Canary Wharf’s Canada Place, staring up at which was, until recently, London’s tallest skyscraper. Perched two floors above The Pearson Room, a restaurant that adjoins the centre’s Reebok Sports Club, my original expectations had been similar to a recent trip to said restaurant. There’s nothing particularly wrong with The Pearson Room, but although separated by just one floor, the standards on offer are whole worlds apart.
Soon after departing the lift that leads straight into the restaurant, we’re whisked through the bar and into a dining room window seat that overlooks Canada Square. Arriving during a prime Thursday lunchtime, it seems that I’m the only man inside the restaurant devout of a suit and tie. However, I soon realise that the case is not that I’m rebelling against an unspecified, assumed dress code, instead we’re the only patrons that aren’t abusing the company credit card in the lead up to the weekend. Loud boardroom banter and water fountain gossip aside, the atmosphere within Plateau is great, offering the perfect balance between high-end formality (matching the food that’s on offer), and a refreshing amount of nonchalance that allows the staff to smile as they deliver plate upon plate of gorgeous food to our huge table for two.
What’s perhaps most impressive about the restaurant is the strong focus on seasonality, with a menu that changes almost as often as the wind direction. At the moment there’s a Mushroom-centred ‘gourmand’ tasting menu (£65/£85 with matching Wines) that’s on offer for the whole table throughout September, notably featuring a ‘Toadstool’ dessert, which is allegedly the jewel in the late-summer menu’s crown: Cep and Dark Chocolate Mousse, Caramelised White Chocolate and Thyme Ganache on a bed of Smoked Chocolate and Praline shavings.
The dessert, alone, does sound wonderful, but during our recent visit, it’s impossible to resist the temptation of sampling the delights from the ever-changing A La Carte menu. To begin, a pre-starter of Gazpacho is poured at the table and evokes plenty of warm summer sensations. Next a plate scattered with generous slabs of cured Salmon is also joined by my concoction of Artichokes, Parma Ham, Artichoke crisps, Truffle and deep-fried Pheasant’s Eggs (a baby Scotch Egg minus the Sausage Meat) that contains a rich yolk to bring all of the contrasting flavours into delicious harmony. Elsewhere, a main of Lamb with smoked Aubergine, Yoghurt and Harissa is cooked to perfection, but the new season Grouse is most spectacular. Having only made its debut during the previous night’s dinner service, I’m one of the first to sample the dish, and am delighted to have enjoyed the medium-rare Meat that’s carved at the table and doused in Madeira and Redcurrant sauce that’s married with the earthy Game and brings out the most stunning of flavours. By the time that the dessert menu arrives we’re both uncomfortably full, but given the standard of the previous courses we’re unable to resist, at fear of missing out. Thankfully a modern take on a classic Mille Feuille features thick Crème Anglais that’s spread between sheets of Puff Pastry, which cuts the sweetness of the Summer berries and Cream: a perfect end to a practically perfect lunch.
Plateau can be found on the 4th Floor, Canada Place, London, E14 5ER.