Sunday, 2 October 2011

Beer, a Burger and Black Beans

Recently the Ewing's become a bit obsessed with walking the Thames path. So a few weeks ago I though it would be a good opportunity to take advantage of the Indian Summer and walk from London Bridge to Greenwich, with a stop off at a hotel in Canary Wharf for the night.

We needed sustenance for our walk, so where better than The Draft House Pub at Tower Bridge, right at the start of our route.

We started with a pint of prawns with garlic mayo before moving on to the serious business; a cheese and bacon burger with onion rings for me and fish and chips and minted peas for the Ewing.

The cheese and bacon are both smoked in house, and although I'm a fan of strong flavours I did worry that together they might overpower the beef.  Luckily they provided just the right smoky note, working as a counterpoint to the rich meat.  The mince was coarsely ground and served nice and pink as requested.  Bun was decent, holding it's load well with no structural issues. Minor irritation came in the form of little cornichons served on the side in lieu of pickle slices in the burger, although I did enjoy the little side salad with beetroot.

The onion rings looked fab, and the batter was nice and crisp.  Unfortunately it was also too thick, with not enough of the lovely sweet onion filling, so I only managed to eat a couple.

The Ewing had a giant piece of haddock with 'proper' chip shop chips, served with a great side dish of crushed minted peas and a piquant tartare sauce containing chunks of boiled egg. The fish was nicely cooked and the batter spot on. Luckily, as the portion was so huge, she didn't mind sharing a little with me.

Of course we couldn't visit without trying some of their carefully chosen beers from the huge list available. The very friendly bar man recommended a couple of cask ales to start, and we followed these with a couple of local Kernal brews.  The Centennial pale ale was crisp and clean, with a pleasant bitterness.  The Ewing enjoyed the lovely citra IPA, a serious beer at 6.5%, with citrus, grapefruit and floral notes.

Happily full of good beer and good food I sensed the need to leave while we could still put one foot in front of another.  So we stumbled across Tower Bridge and enjoyed a wander around St Katherine Docks in the sparkling autumn sunshine.

The Draft House Pub on Urbanspoon

After venturing a couple of miles down the river we reached the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping.  The Prospect is one of the most famous pubs in London, as well as reportedly the oldest riverside tavern.  In former times it was a meeting place for sailors and smugglers, and was frequented by Pepys and Dickens, as well as being sketched by Turner and Whistler.  Now days it's a Taylor Walker pub, and although the original flagstone floor remains there's little of the old sea dog atmosphere, instead being full of families and sightseers enjoying the lovely weather.

The outdoor seating area was full but we found a table indoors with a lovely river view out across the river.  Pint of Young's London Gold was decent, but watching the choppy waters lapping up at the window made me slightly feel sea sick. (although this could have been the Kernal IPA starting to catch up with me...)

Outside in the fresh air again I was ready to work up a thirst on the next leg of our journey.  We were also treated to this lovely view of the sparkling Canary Wharf ; the heart of London's financial district glistening as the sun went down.

Next stop was the Narrows, Gordon Ramsay's riverside pub and restaurant.  There was a real buzz outside when we got here and, rather surprisingly, we were allowed to take our glasses out onto the tow path and make the most of the evening sun.

Classic pub food was being served in a conservatory area with a river view, and while everything looked pretty tasty we were still stuffed from our lunchtime repast and just ordered a beer (and possibly some peanuts for sustenance).

Nice pint of Adnams Regatta overlooking the mouth of the Limehouse Basin.

Last stop was the Grapes In Limehouse.  Another favourite of Dickens this was the most 'local' of all the pubs we visited.  As soon as we walked through the door we could hear the banter between the bar staff and the locals.  There was a man in the corner, reading the paper, drinking ale and eating fish and chips, groups of friends meeting for drinks before dinner, and even the obligatory dog searching for dropped scratchings.

The small balcony at the back was busy so we sat in the front bar.  The upstairs of the pub has been turned into a 'posh' fish restaurant, while downstairs serves pub grub.  The food looked great and the Ewing was seriously considering fried fish round two.

By this point I'm not quite sure what we were drinking, but I know I managed a large glass of lovely rioja after my pint of ale. As it was already dark, and we were more than a little drunk, we decided to walk on down the Westferry Road to our final destination.

The lights of Canary Wharf looking across West India Dock.

Despite feeling as though we could never be hungry again after our mammoth lunch, all that drinking and walking had left us feeling a little peckish.  Luckily we found the Canary Wharf branch of Wahaca, where the chips, guacamole and pork pibil with black beans soaked up the booze perfectly.

A dish of salted caramel and chocolate ice cream to follow helped cool our tongues after all the fiery chillies.  The perfect sweet end to a lovely London day.

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