It's not fancy, it's not big and it's not clever, but the scrag end is delicious. For simple, honest opinions on restaurants, recipes, supper clubs and what not, you've come to the right place.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Camino, 28 Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf always seems an odd place. But on a Saturday lunchtime, bereft of its bankers, wankers, lawyers and assorted consultants, it’s quite eerie, like a gold-rush mining town with no more gold.

I’ve always suspected that the typical restaurant customer in this part of London has no great need for food, subsisting instead on cocaine, money and poor people. But were they so inclined, the citizens of planet Goldman could do worse than head to Camino, the newish sister restaurant of a well-liked Kings Cross establishment.

I did, at the restaurant’s invitation and expense, and enjoyed the experience, though it’s fair to say Saturday lunch is probably not the best time to go (I chose the time, so you can blame me). We took advantage of the unusually good October weather and sat out on the waterfront, gazing over the odd modern-old buildings that define much Dockland riverside development.

The menu we were given was for brunch. It contained no starters, and when the waiter suggested we try churros con chocolate (little fried doughnuts with chocolate) ahead of our parrillada mixta (mixed grill), I was slightly bemused. Instead, we had to make do with some horrible olives, covered in lemon juice and paprika, I think. They were not good at all. A glass of Tio Pepe compensated somewhat, but I wasn’t optimistic about the rest of our meal.

Happily, things perked up with the arrival of our main. A huge plate of meat and garlic-smothered piquillo peppers, with a mild blue-cheese sauce, it was priced at a muscular £19.50 per head (minimum two to share). Any quibbles about the cost were more than made up for by the quality however. Rib eye steak was perfectly rare, tender and juicy. Pork sausages were interesting enough, with just a hint of peppery flavour to keep us keen. The morcilla (black pudding) was subtle and rich, with the texture of haggis and a fatty, ferrous flavour that I really loved. Some nicely cooked chicken was fine, but lacking zing. 

Best of all was the Iberico black pig, served very rare indeed, and quite superb. Unaccustomed to deliberately rare pork, I was surprised and delighted by the fleshy texture of the meat, somewhere between raw tuna and rare steak. Sprinkled with large chunks of rock salt, it was full of sweetness and meaty flavour. A real discovery. The piquillo peppers were good too, though the salad leaves perched on the corner of the plate were disappointingly meagre and poorly dressed. The ensemble would have been great accompanied by potatoes. There were none on the brunch menu, though they are available normally. They should probably just serve them with the meat. 

Our excellent waiter recommended a glass of Quinta El Refugio to accompany the grill. It was miles better than a £21 pounds-per-bottle wine should be, all vanilla notes and musky aftertaste. 

We followed this with cheese – a ragbag of decent manchego and disappointing non-descriptness, accompanied by a rather nice thick strawberry jam. One of the cheeses tasted simply of Edam; another looked cracked and tough, like it had been cut earlier in the day and left out too long. But, I suppose, if you’re going to serve mediocre cheese, then you might as well do so alongside Upita de Los Reyes biscuits. These were so good I took the wrapping home with me and am now scouring London to find more. Caraway, salt and caramel played on the tongue to create layers of flavours that expanded and retreated in every mouthful. The datey, pruney glass of Pedro Ximenez ‘El Candado’that we drank with it probably helped too. At £4.50 a pop, this is another bargain. 

We finished with decent coffee and an aggressive, anis-flavoured Basque liqueur called Patxaran. Very nice.

Camino does lots of things extremely well (including pictures of Penelope Cruz in the men’s loo). The food ran the gamut from poor to truly excellent, while the wine was wonderful and affordable. I imagine it will do very well in Canary Wharf, because it’s a cut above crappy chains like Giraffe, but not so fancy as to deter people who like that kind of place. You can eat and drink well for under £35 pounds per head. And if nothing else, there's the Iberico black pig and those gorgeous biscuits.

Phil Letts’ take: 6/10

Camino on Urbanspoon


  1. For anyone that likes the sound of those biscuits, Krista Booker, the most appropriately-named PR ever, has pointed me here (no hyperlink, sorry):

    Thanks Krista!

  2. ha ha thanks Phil - I was actually a journalist for seven years which may be even more appropriately named.....please tell me you are an estate agent!

  3. Sound like an excellent place for simple but delicious food. One of my project is to compile a world food guide of nice value eateries, and such suggestions fits in what I look for. Nice review.

  4. Yet to try out the Camino at Canary Wharf but if it's anything like Camino Kings Cross it can't be bad at all. In fact it's probably better seeing that it's situated in nicer surrounds. King's Cross isn't the prettiest place for a restaurant.

  5. I really appreciate your posting it's really informative for me hope you always update more often and share to us what you know. Thanks

    Letting Agents Canary Wharf

  6. Camino is a great place to spend your time in a sunny day. You are right it's odd but you know... odd means different.