Shekha goes down to Mr Todiwalla’s Kitchen, the latest venture from chef Cyrus Todiwala and Jack Speak, the new rum bar at Lincoln Plaza.
South Asian food enthusiasts, followers of Cyrus Todiwala’s cooking, Canary Wharf workers, hotel guests, groups, couples and friends – equally rum fans will love the selection at Jack Speak, above the restaurant.
In a Word
Towards a more residential side of Canary Wharf lies the Lincoln Plaza Hotel, which is quiet on a Wednesday evening. Clientele is mostly made up of hotel guests and the occasional wanderers in from outside. The interior is elegant and spacious, with curved walls and high ceilings; the atria decadently furnished with life-size elephant statues and large copper cooking utensils, which hang from above, with the charm of burnished lanterns. Tables are well spaced and the overall feeling is peaceful, juxtaposed with a touch of theatre from the open kitchen.
Renowned for producing food inspired by his Parsee heritage and his time as an executive chef in Goa, Todiwala’s restaurant duly showcases a range of these flavours. Time-honoured culinary techniques such as cooking in a tandoor are also explored here. The selection of papads is delicious, from the more well-known gram flour-based poppadum to the crispy tapioca flatbreads. Accompanied by, a trio of in-house chutneys, from tangy tomato to the sweet and sour mango, a solid start to the meal.
The tandoor selection from the starters has decent flavour, with a gentle heat, but meats are slightly overdone, signalling to more refinement needed with either temperature control or timing. Parsee signature dish, Dhansak, made with lentil and lamb, has gloriously tender cubes of meat and a thick, unctuous gravy, which holds much promise, if the spices are given more time to roast and infuse into it. A highlight is the luxuriously vermillion Goan prawn curry, with juicy prawns and a flavoursome red rice accompaniment.
Also at Lincoln Plaza, boasting an extensive selection of rums, a nod to the maritime heritage of the docks, is intimate cocktail bar, Jack Speak. Set on the mezzanine floor of the hotel, this little bar churns out some incredible signature cocktails including a twist on the classic Daquiri, made with homemade sugar cane juice or the delightfully peaty, Scotch-based Penicillin.
The food at Mr Todiwala’s has potential, with the provenance of ingredients clear in the cooking. The portion vs price ratio, however, some are likely to baulk at. If basic errors can be ironed out, seemingly more an issue of execution rather than flawed recipes, a repeat visit will hopefully yield a more harmonious experience.
Jack Speak, on the other hand, fits cosily into Canary Wharf’s other watering holes. In fact, more of a destination than some of the more uniform chain offerings in the area. A clever cocktail menu and impressive rum collection are certainly reasons to wind up there for a nightcap or two.
Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen / Jack Speak Bar
Lincoln Plaza Hotel, 2 Lincoln Plaza, Isle of Dogs, London E14 9BD
020 7987 1157