All aboard! Stationary restaurants are so 2016. I recently swapped the towpaths of Paddington for The Prince Regent, a beautiful blue canal boat that is home to London Shell Co. for the next ten years! They are serious about British seafood and high quality booze, and they’ve got a full kitchen and wine bar on board to lay on a floating feast fit for a King (or Queen). Over lunch, the boat stays still (ish) for a great value feed, but in the evening they set sail for Camden (and back again), serving up five courses with optional wine pairings over 3 hours or so.
We felt rather smug as we stepped on to the boat opposite Zizzis and were handed a complimentary loosener of Somserset Cider Brandy’s Kingston Black aperitif – dangerously drinkable stuff. I necked that and moved on to an East India No.2 with Fino sherry, Black Down vermouth and rhubarb liqueur. The short cocktail list is much more inventive than your average restaurant’s efforts. And then there’s the wine selection – Harry, a former Pollen Street Social sommelier, goes to great lengths (using multiple suppliers) to offer an exciting range on board. Opt in for the full wine pairing (£35 / £55) if you can afford it, or ask him for some ideas throughout the meal.
We kicked off with fresh Cumbrae oysters, served with moreish “Angel Hair” fries and a lovely sparkling Muscadet from the Loire Valley. Tables are laid for groups of four, so you may find yourself sharing if you are in a pair – an oyster and some fizz will get you in the mood for some socialising. Then it was on to generous portions of deep fried mackerel with zingy pickled carrots and dulse, and flavoursome flamed cuttlefish with kohlrabi and air dried ham. A fruity Pinot Gris from Stopham Estate in West Sussex went down very nicely.
Next up, several strips of cured salmon were presented with pickled cucumbers, mild horseradish, and piles of bread, which we washed down with a dry, unoaked “Clip” Loureiro Vinho Verde 2015 from Portugal. N.B. The wines pile up pretty fast so don’t do too much hoarding! The main course followed – a glorious chunk of Cornish monkfish covered in hazelnut butter, and served with well-seasoned Jerusalem artichoke and cavolo nero. A silky smooth glass of translucent Cinsault Vieilles Vignes 2014 was the perfect foil, and the best wine of the night.
Finally, we demolished a palate cleansing plate of tangy poached rhubarb, with sour vanilla cream and toasted almonds, served with a not too sweet glass of 2014 Domaine des Baumard Coteaux du Layon. Not too shabby for a meal on a boat, eh? There’s even a supplementary cheese course on offer. As the boat came to a stop, we drained our glasses and stumbled out on to the towpath, but you can stick around for a few drinks with the crew if you don’t want the party to end.
Dinner will set you back £45 for the five course feast before drinks, but you are in good hands aboard The Prince Regent, and it’s a perfect way to escape the bustling streets of London, the lure of smartphones, and the queues of Soho and Shoreditch. Book ahead now and treat yourself to a decadent night on the high seas with London Shell Co.!
London Shell Co. – www.londonshellco.com