It had been a dark and stormy night the first time we visited the Manhattan Grill at the Marriott Hotel, West India Quay. It’s an easy few minutes’ walk from West India Quay Docklands Light Railway or a little further from Canary Wharf tube station. We were wet and windswept when we arrived but in spite of our dishevelled appearance the greeting was warm and welcoming.
Three years later, on one of the hottest days of the year, we were back walking along the lively quay side marvelling at the high rise office blocks, and the vintage cranes from the days when the West India Quay was part of a working port loading and unloading cargo from far flung corners of the globe.
A table overlooking the quay
The welcome as we pushed open the door to the Manhattan Grill was just as welcoming as it had been earlier. And before long the very charming and knowledgeable Sahel, who chiefly looked after us through the lunch, had settled us at a window table overlooking the quay. It has to be said though that all the staff were delightful – friendly, efficient and eager to please.
The restaurant is a fairly long, fairly narrow, curved room with an open plan kitchen at one end and an enomatic wine dispenser at the other.
Stunningly good steaks
Above the wine dispenser a large framed notice explains the steaks the Grill serves, the cuts, the sauces and even cooking information. For whilst the Manhattan Grill does serve a number of other tempting dishes including fish, chicken, lamb and a burger its emphasis is on steaks. And stunningly good steaks they are too.
Not surprising since the beef is either USDA Black Angus or Scottish Aberdeen Angus. The former wet aged for 28 days, the latter dry aged for 28 days. They are cooked on a special Montague Radial Grill, shipped over from the States, and heated to a fearsome temperature of 650˚C. The chefs know to the second how long to cook and rest the meat – consequently it is meltingly tender and the flavour of both is superb.
Should you, however, wish to guild the lily the steaks come with some delicious sauces - creamy horseradish, bearnaise, bourbon peppercorn, red wine, or port and stilton.
Starters and sides…
As we couldn’t make up our minds about which starter to choose Sahel took over and decided a mixed platter might be a good idea.
The breaded ox cheek was delicious, as were the prawns with chilli, the scallops with pineapple and the asparagus on a bed of pearl barley topped with a poached duck egg.
Sides, also caused something of a dilemma, but in the end one of us opted for some great chips, the other for yummy mac ‘n’ cheese and we shared some onion rings and chopped salad.
…and a glass of wine
On our first visit we had had fun experimenting with the wine dispenser but on this occasion we again asked Sahel for his recommendation.
We had no problem with his choice - a delicious glass of crisp Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc each with our starter and an excellent full-bodied Malbec with the steak.
We just, somehow, managed a slice of Key Lime Pie for dessert.
By the way the menus change slightly according to the season. And a special lunch menu is also available.
Gin and Afternoon Tea
We adjourned to the Cocktail Bar and Lounge for coffee, but actually never made it to coffee. One of us spotted that the bar had rather a lot of gin bottles on display. Not altogether surprising as we were to learn that the bar is known as the G&Tea Bar. That wonderful bar has 168 different gins – probably more by now.
Pasquale, our knowledgeable expert behind the bar, shared his passion for gin with us. It turned into a fascinating three quarters of an hour learning more about this much loved tipple, the skill needed by the distiller to balance the botanicals and which tonic is best suited to which gin.
Across the room from the bar is a small and rather attractive lounge area, and it is here we were told that the celebrated Afternoon Tea (from £18.50) is served. My friend loves Afternoon Tea – with or without bubbles. I have a feeling it won’t be too long before we are back at West India Quay, the Manhattan Grill and the G&Tea Bar. manhattangrill.co.uk