“ Butlers Wharf Building, 36E Shad Thames, London, SE1 2YE, Tel: Tel: +44 (0)844 567 2350 „
Finding a place to cater for a Christmas do is always a pain in the backside, especially if a place hasn't been agreed upon and its two weeks before Christmas. So after much deliberation and investigation using Google it was decided that The Chop House at Butlers Wharf would be the venue for the team to meet and have something to eat and drink before Christmas.
One thing that you have to say about this place is its location; the restaurant itself is located next to the river opposite St Katherine's Dock on the south side of the Thames in a place called Shad Thames and is literally 200 yards downriver from Tower Bridge. Seeing the Bridge itself lit up at night with the City of London in the background is simply a stunning view and I can see why this place does good trade, especially when the Bridge opens to allows ships through as quite a crowd will gather outside to witness the event from the best possible vantage point.
Upon arrival, the night before Christmas Eve, we were early and were greeted and welcomed by the staff; cloaks removed and hung up with the obligatory cloakroom tickets handed out. We had already walked through the busy Bar part of the restaurant and found this to be clean and welcoming and most importantly warm, so the expectations were high with what the services that we had experienced just by walking through the door. I was expecting the Restaurant area to be half empty, yet when we arrived it was half full and it was only 7.30 in the evening with a nice comfortable atmosphere that had the slightest linger of the food being cooked, not overwhelming at all but just enough to remind you of certain meals which in my case was a Sunday Roast.
Looking around the establishment it was decorated in subtly modern colours yet with an old fashioned manner that keeps the fact that the building used to be a warehouse in the days that the London Docks were an established part of the London culture. With the partitions just high enough to give privacy, yet low enough to let some sound carry to avoid the private booth emphasis that some Restaurants can give to people visiting. The vertical beams that are original to the building itself have not been hidden and are predominantly used as part of the décor rather than being covered in another material. In fact the thing that impressed me was the fact that wood was the key material in use with the manner that The Chop House had been fitted out and as soon as soon as you walk through the door the flooring is wood and opens up the areas considerably and fuses together the best of both worlds in terms of modern and old fashioned.
As it was a Christmas do, it was generally felt that the usual types of meals that everyone had at home went straight out the window as the Menu choice was varied yet wholly traditional with what it was served with. A good example is what I ordered - Smoked Salmon and Salad for starters. The colour of the Salmon was a rich pink rather than a paler colour and tested better than what has been served to me in some other places. Presentation was colourful without looking like the contents had been assembled with the use of a cannon. In fact it was the presentation that caught the attention of all four of us as each dish was served we saw some "out of the box" thinking with the delivery of the food on the plate. My colleague ordered the Yorkshire Pudding and was expecting it to be a smallish Pudding with veg served around the side of the plate, imagine his surprise when the Yorkshire was almost the size of the plate with everything inside!! Even the Fish and Chips was a plentiful portion size that initially didn't look that much to start with was indeed a very filling meal to eat and given that it came with a surprisingly large sized jar of Mushy Peas, it made me think that the Roasted Pheasant and Seasonal Veg that I had ordered as my main was far inferior to that of my colleague, again it was served to perfection with the veg wrapped in a Savoy Cabbage and the most important thing was that it was also served hot rather than warm. It's always a mark of confidence that when four men are eating a meal in silence that it has been gratefully accepted that the food is decent and in this case it was accepted as we hardly spoke throughout the main course at all! That I took as a big compliment.
I always take offence when I'm eating if I get interrupted for something as trivial as feedback on what I'm digesting with the phrase "Is everything okay?" However on this occasion I felt that we should have got the Waiter a chair to tell him how positively stunned we were with the food on our plates and to give us the recipes there and then. Which for us eating was the best way that we could give feedback and with that we were never approached again, which in some ways for me was a switch to disappointment as we wanted to say more to someone else and by the end was desperate to speak to someone.
Drinks wise we could have had Beer; we could have had Spirits but decided for a nice bottle of Portuguese Rijoca. The wine rack was on view from where we sat and watching the Wine Waiter take this from the rack was a pleasurable experience, naturally with the scope of the Restaurant there were some very familiar names on the Wine Menu and few thrown in for good measure which I suspect would have probably catered for the City workers who I envisage using this place in the same way that I use my local. It was also ensured that we never had an empty glass as well as the Wine Waiter constantly kept paying us a visit to ensure that we never ran dry. Add to the fact that we were served by a different person with nearly everything we had and it was obvious that the logistical side of the operation was running like a finely tuned engine, as it seemed that everyone has a different task, for example a person served the Sauce tray whilst another set Cutlery and yet another checked the Wine levels.
From start to finish we were sat for just over two hours which I thought was just right, we finished off the meal with a plentiful pot of Green Tea after having the obligatory and necessary Dessert, strangely I was the only one who wanted a Dessert and was recommended by the Waiter to have the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Awesome (and without going into a Masterchef moment) the texture and taste of the Dessert was something else and just this dish would make me return again on its own.
For the meal and the drinks it worked out just under £55 per head, but this was for a Christmas do and something special as a team event. If I was there with my other half then it would be less, and I would probably go for the set price menu that they serve up at specific times, which seemed to have the same dishes being made available as when we were there anyway.
Over all this is a place that I strongly recommend, not necessarily as a location that you pop in to have something to eat, more of a place that you go to for a special occasion to celebrate. The food is of a high quality and this is by far the most professional and yet personal service that I have ever experienced which when combined does give a superior experience to the end user. I can only imagine what it is like in the Summer when you can sit outside on a barmy evening and watch the world go by, in fact it something that I will probably do as this place is just perfect for an occasion such as my birthday.
When we were looking for a restaurant to celebrate my Mum's birthday, The Butler's Wharf Chop House seemed the perfect choice, coming highly recommended from various colleagues who have impeccable dining taste. One of the Conran Group's restaurants, it's situated right on the river overlooking Tower Bridge, the setting is wonderful, and was particularly great for my Mum, whose Dad actually designed the engine inside Tower Bridge. For a London restaurant it's actually very accessible, particularly for parking, as there is a multi-storey car park just around the corner, or if you are using the tube, it's just s short step from London Bridge tube.
On arriving at the restaurant we checked our coats in (I hate when you have to sit with your coat over your chair - pet hate of mine!) and were led into the main restaurant to our table where my Mum, my sister and I were told that "two gentlemen" were waiting for us - my Dad and my boyfriend, a surprise for my Mum who'd been disappointed that we couldn't all do something together!
The décor in the Chop House is great - all light wood panelling, giving quite a nautical effect and tables are nicely spaced out so you don't feel that you're sharing your meal with another table. The windows along the front by the river are all floor to ceiling glass which in the summer they open up and you can dine outside. Obviously on a cold November day they were fully shut, but I'd love to return in the summer when everything is open! The atmosphere as a whole was wonderful - buzzy and considering how great the food and service was, remarkably unstuffy. Dress code was relaxed (although, as my Dad had told my sister earlier in the day when she asked if she was dressed alright for the restaurant, "There will be better dressed people there"!)
As soon as we sat down we were offered water and given the menu and wine list. We were struggling to choose a wine, as while my Mum and I were having fish, everyone else was having red meat. However, the waiter recommended a Spanish white, which we all thought an odd choice, but I'm really glad we went with his recommendation as it was fabulous and complimented my meal perfectly (and at £23 was one of the cheaper on the menu, so good to know that they don't just recommend the most expensive wines just to sting you for more money!)
The menu is modern British in style and when we were there they had a special's menu in honour of St Andrew's day. My main meal was smoked haddock with spinach and poached egg, which was absolutely wonderful. A really big piece of fish, deboned perfectly (another pet hate), and the whole dish was simple but really filled with flavour. My boyfriend had Lamb Shank on pearl barley which he said was the best lamb he'd ever tasted. Side dishes are ordered separately and we had some greens, new potatoes and cauliflower cheese, all of which were lovely and not overcooked, as is so often the case with vegetables.
The dessert menu is a real treat for those who like their traditional English puddings, which is the main reason why we'd chosen it for my Mum's birthday as she can't get enough! You could choose from bread and butter pudding, sticky toffee pudding, spotted dick, or (my choice) chocolate brownie with ice cream. My chocolate brownie couldn't have been better - warm, chunky, rich, and with the ice cream just melting on top. The sticky toffee pudding, which is what my Mum went for, smelled amazing - the pudding was sitting in a steaming pool of hot toffee and the smell was amazing.
The service we received here was impeccable - I don't think any of us ever got close to having an empty glass, the waiters were so attentive. We were asked twice during our meal if everything was ok, which may sound rather overbearing, but managed not to be intrusive at all. I think the only criticism I could have would be that we ordered coffee with dessert and it was brought to the table while we were halfway through dessert. This does happen in a lot of places, but I do prefer it to arrive after dessert. But hey, I'm just being really picky!
Price wise, this wasn't cheap - considering that we didn't have starters and had a reasonably cheap bottle of wine, the bill came in at £200 for 5 of us (including service). I think given the quality of the food and the service, this was actually quite a reasonable price, at £40 per head.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this restaurant for a special occasion - the food was fabulous, the service was great, and the setting was wonderful (though would be more stunning in the summer).