30 June 2008
Cherry Garden Pier
Cherry Garden Street
Tel: 020 7740 0400
By John Prendergast
I LOVE London. I love it so much I spent £4 on a t-shirt in the West End to prove it. It only had one arm and was far from the XL size that it promised on the label but the sentiment on it held better than the garment was able to hold my belly.
Therefore I was looking forward to my evening sojourn up the Thames last Sunday, a beautiful summer’s evening, a bit of grub and a journey up and down the best city in the world.
They say romance is dead, but I felt I was giving the missus a bit of overkill in that department recently. So rather than spoil her and set standards that I can't be bothered to maintain, I invited my old mate the Buffet King (BK) along, who I knew would enjoy such a trip.
We kicked off at Westminster Pier at 7pm, and were due to go on a three and half hour trip, cruising right along the river up to the Thames Barrier and back again. I wasn't sure what to expect but at £70 a ticket I think my expectations were fairly high.
We were seated down at tables that were set out in long rows, and rather reminded me of a wedding reception. The starter was a pretty typical wedding affair, being smoked salmon and crayfish in a light dressing. It was pretty decent, light and refreshing and a solid start to events.
Our entertainment for the evening was the lovely Jackie - she introduced herself to all and sundry on the boat and her warm friendly demeanour got the evening off to a good start.
We were told to eat our soup and then go outside and catch the views, which we duly did. The homemade soup of that day was asparagus, and it was thick and tasty but didn't quite blow the old socks off.
The same could not be said of the views. London in the evening has that X-factor that Simon Cowell hogs our Saturday evenings looking for. I defy anyone not to be amazed as the lights come on and the city shines in all its glory.
We came back down for our main course on a high, but the next course proved to be the low point of the evening. Breast of chicken may be healthy, but if not done correctly it can be bland. I am afraid in this case the mushroom and white wine sauce added little to the dish. In a four course meal the main is the star of the show, but in this case all it does is fluff its lines.
The meal is saved a bit by a tasty selection of desserts. The chocolate and caramel cheesecake was rich and pleasing but was outdone by the delicious fig, raspberry and caramel tart which was a delight.
You have to be fair and realise you are not just paying for the meal, and if you were you would be disappointed. There is also the trip along the river which is truly amazing. Being a Londoner you often don't realise why people come from all over the world, but this trip will tell you why.
You also have a bit of entertainment thrown in, as Jackie takes off her hostess hat and puts on the chiffon to blast out some show tunes. You know what, even though I am not a great fan of musicals I found myself clapping and singing along at that point and looked over at BK who was also clapping, and realised what a pair of prize prats we must have looked.
But we weren't alone and everyone on the boat sang along, and got up and had a dance afterwards. I stopped short of asking BK if he would join me on the floor for fear that a few careless words tonight could be costly tomorrow.
On stepping off the boat at 10.30pm I can honestly say that it was a pleasant experience, and a lovely way to spend an evening.
But the problem from the outset is expectation. If I am paying £70 I would expect every element of the experience to be top end, and basically it is not. It has moments that are great fun, the views are amazing and the entertainment is pretty good.
Parts of the meal are good without being amazing, but the main to be truthful was pretty awful.
If the trip was half the price I could whole heartedly say, never mind the quality, it's a good fun evening out that you can enjoy and the food is only part of the deal. When you start paying double that I think the standard, and the food in particular has to step up some notches - after all you can buy a lot of ill fitting t-shirts for that kind of cash.
Glass of Sparkling White Wine
Half Bottle of Wine
Crayfish Tails in a light Mayonnaise dressing encased in smoked salmon
Home made Asparagus Soup
Sauté supreme of chicken served in a mushroom and white wine sauce with selections of seasonal vegetables,
and baby potatoes
Selection of Cheesecake or Pastries
Coffee and Mints
£70 per person (price includes entertainment and cruise cost)
FOOD (1-5) 2
AMBIENCE (1-5) 4
PRICE VALUE (1-5) 2
DISABLED ACCESS YES
DISABLED TOILET YES
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