Belgique

by the Munching Mariner (published East End Life, 14 November)

My Thirst Mate and I were walking along the river by Canary Wharf on a Saturday evening, passing Belgique as hunger struck. Just recently there were builders working inside. It’s a fresh venue for our hungry bellies.

Belgique is a split-level brasserie with an awesome display of cakes and sweets forming the focal point of the ground floor.

The décor is two-tone, orange and dark, with large windows ensuring there is a clear view of the river from most parts of the restaurant.

We sat upstairs and negotiated the menu. The meals are typically continental and there is an abundant range of Belgian beers and other drinks. I ordered a dark beer and my Thirst Mate, a blonde.

Good food, good beer

We studiously avoided the starters, resolving to leave enough space for dessert. My Thirst Mate ordered Coq au Vin along with a side dish of crispy baby potato and I asked for salmon en croute.

We were both highly impressed; my Thirst Mate struggling to remember when she last had such a good meal. They were generously portioned too.

And now the moment we’d been waiting for. While we had the option of choosing our dessert from the menu, we couldn’t resist feasting our eyes on the treats downstairs. I settled quickly on chocolate cheesecake, but my Thirst Mate struggled deeply over a sweet dilemma. She finally settled on chocolate éclair, but she’ll be back before long to try out something else.

Good cakes too

While the main courses were excellent, it is the sweeter dishes which make this a must-visit venue. Perhaps afternoon tea is a more cost-effective way of sampling the experience. Belgique also has a range of enticing breakfast options on the menu.

Our experience was superb, with friendly and helpful service. The evening atmosphere was very relaxed, but the restaurant clearly wants to be seen as a place to go at any time of the day.

Our bill came to £41.50, excluding service.

Belgique is next to the river at 37 Westferry Circus, E14 8RR. Telephone 020 7516 0022.

The Prospect of Whitby

by the Munching Mariner (published in East End Life, 15 August)

The East End lays claim to two of London’s most famous pubs. While the Queen Vic exists only in fiction, the Prospect of Whitby is a real riverside treat, apparently the oldest of its kind in England (early 16th Century).

The Prospect of Whitby

The venue dates from the early 16th Century

My Thirst Mate and I went along for lunch on a Tuesday afternoon and explored the building carefully before settling at a table on the terrace.

The building oozes history, although only the stone floor is original. There are plenty of pictures of a bygone era and eerily a hangman’s noose dangles over the river in memory of an early patron, “Hanging” Judge Jeffreys, who enjoyed a beer while watching executions just a little way upstream.

Hangman's noose

In memory of "Hanging" Judge Jeffreys

We ordered a beer and a shandy along with our food at the bar. The shandy turned out to be a straight beer, but this was rectified without fuss.

There is a great choice of food: lots of typical pub meals including baked potatoes with a range of fillings and sandwiches. My Thirst Mate opted for pork and black pepper sausages and mash and I ordered a stilton and bacon burger with chips.

The food was excellent with the exception of the chips which I found overdone, a little brown and crisp to taste. The mash was just the right consistency and the burger and sausages were rich and full of taste.

We enjoyed our visit and would recommend it especially for a sunny summer afternoon on the terrace or a colder evening inside as the autumn approaches.

Our meal came to £24.05 including drinks.

The Prospect of Whitby is next to the river on the D3 bus route near Wapping station. 57 Wapping Wall, E1W 3SH. Telephone 7481 1095.

River View

By the Munching Mariner (published in East End Life, 4th May)

The River View is an elegant, comfortable Chinese restaurant in Wapping, nestled (as you might expect) against the Thames with great views of the river, Rotherhithe on the far side and Canary Wharf in the distance.  A great location for the Munching Mariner!  Possibly even better in the summer, when seating is extended to the terrace.

My Thirst Mate and I booked for a Thursday at 8.30pm.  I asked for a table by the window and it was noted for our arrival.  Our waitress, who attended to us all evening, offered to take our coats and guided us to our seats.  She promptly presented complimentary prawn crackers and left us sufficient time to choose our meals.  The service was attentive, but unobtrusive.

 

The River View

The River View

The menu (Peking & Cantonese Cuisine) is broad: plenty of choice under all the main headings.  There are also three set menus, beginning at £20.50pp.

My Thirst Mate and I ordered separate starters, but ended up sharing.  We ordered grilled dumplings and lettuce wrapped minced chicken.  The dumplings had a good texture with just the right level of spice.  The minced chicken was a new experience for us both, and a slightly messy one for me; the meat comes separately from the lettuce and is packed in with a spoon before being eaten by hand.  Awkward, but very tasty!

For mains, she ordered chicken with cashew nuts in yellow bean sauce and I opted for sliced beef with satay sauce (both with rice).  They were both enjoyable, though perhaps the yellow bean sauce was slightly dry; we both preferred the beef.

We debated dessert before sharing a 3-scoop sorbet which impressed us both.

Our bill came to £57.90 including a bottle of house wine and service.  If we had made it between 6-8pm, we could have taken the Early Bird option: a three course set menu including a glass of wine for £14.80pp.  View the main menu at www.riverview-restaurant.com.

The River View is at New Crane Wharf in Wapping, E1W 3TU.  Wapping station is closed, but the restaurant is served by the D3 and 100 bus routes.  Telephone 7480 6026.