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Louise Elgin discovered 

The Waterway, London W9

I can’t think of a more idyllic way to pass a summer’s afternoon than to wander down the Regents Canal. Particularly the stretch past the houseboats at Little Venice, which surely has to be one of the capital’s most desirable addresses. I am delighted to report to all dine-online readers that we have a new Gastro-pub to visit in this area. Backing right onto the canal, it has a large terrace, which will be ideal for the summer ahead, (if and when it arrives!) Having lived in the area most of my life, it is so exciting to suddenly have a choice of decent places to eat springing up on my doorstep, so it was a pleasure to try this latest offering.

Until a week ago, a pub that I wouldn’t have dared set foot in, thanks to its dubious reputation, has changed hands and been transformed by the people behind the ultra trendy Golborne House in North Kensington. When I visited The Waterway, it had been open less than a week although it was hard to believe as it was already bustling - and I must say, with a rather hip-looking crowd, so my father and I must have looked slightly out of place as we made our way over to our corner table for two.  The dining area was very spacious and elegant with a wood theme running throughout the room and our Banquette style seating particularly comfortable.

There was a choice of six starters priced between £4-7.50.  My father (who has to be one of the capital’s most serious gourmets) said of his sesame crusted tuna carpaccio with sesame soy dressing, £7.50, that it was ‘so tender and delicate’. Adding that he never normally ordered tuna as he found it too dry, served here marinaded, it was “a different kettle of fish”. I excused his pun as I was poaching (!) some of his large portion at the time. I had to agree it was quite delicious, and beautifully presented.

I had commenced with a bowl of the spring vegetable soup, £4.00.  It was light, perfumed with herbs, delicately seasoned, and contained tiny cubes of al dente vegetables.  Other choices included, Chilli salt squid with mange tout and sweet pepper salad, £6.50, and Pancetta and Cream Fraiche Tart Flambee, £6.75.

I left the wine order in the capable hands of my Pa whose cellar would make many restaurateurs green with envy.  The House white was a Cotes de Gascogne 2001 at £9.90 and a Pinot Grigio 2001 at £11.95, whilst the House red was a Vin de Pays de L’Herault at £10.25.  He chose an unoaked Chardonnay by Kim Crawford, Marlborough 2001 at £23.45.  I don’t usually like Chardonnay, but I was assured this one was going to be the business and he was right (as usual!)  Even our delightful New Zealand waitress, who at first alarmed me by opening the wine with a twist of an airtight screwtop, commended him on his choice.  Having tasted it, Pa confirmed ‘it was a lovely fresh example, ideal for immediate consumption, perfect for fish dishes and so refreshingly different to oaked Chardonnay’.  

Wine in hand, Pa decided to order for his main course the grilled wild seabass with braised fennel and sauce vierge, £14.95, pronouncing it fresh  and light with a good flavour and crunchy skin. I chose the butternut, feta and pinenut roulade with coriander oil, £9.50.  It was so nice to see that this restaurant was treating veggies seriously and not palming them off with pasta. I was given three good slices of the roulade, and like the tuna it was exquisitely presented. A wonderful mingling of flavours served in a Parmesan crust and a drizzle of coriander oil.

Other main course options comprised slow roast rump of lamb £13.75 and Aberdeen Angus steak with confit of shallots, garlic and crispy bacon £13.85 so something for everyone I thought.

For pudding (all at £4.50) there was a delicious selection to choose between. including dark chocolate cake with clotted cream, and raspberry & mascarpone crème brulee. We shared a lemon curd tart and a separate vanilla ice cream.  Both were excellent, the tart arrived on an ice-cold plate, with a very sharp lemony clean flavour.  The ice cream was served drizzled with raspberry coulis and had a dense vanilla flavour.  A very refreshing combination.  

Without the after dinner digestifs and coffees which we resisted, the bill came to around £40 a head. Walking home along the canal at twilight, I was happy that The Waterway was a short walk away for me, close to Warwick Avenue tube for others. It has to be a sure bet as a big success.

The Waterway, 54 Formosa Street London W9

Tel: 020 7266-3557

Louise Elgin June 2002

UK Restaurant Reviews – The Best Of The Dine Online Restaurant Reviews 2001 - 2010

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