Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Camino review (Canary Wharf Westferry) - tried and tested formula scores once more

Address: 28 Westferry Circus,
London E14 8RR
Tel: 020 7239 9007
Nearest DLR station: Westferry

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £35 pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: ****
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
"Where is it?" asked Ab as I stepped out into the typical London drizzle. "Well, if I have read the google map correctly, it should be next to Royal China," I replied. By it, I was referring to Camino, which has opened up another branch at Canary Wharf's Westferry.

"One thing's for sure though, I shouldn't have finished that all-day brunch at Wetherspoon this afternoon," I added, patting my stomach,"Not exactly the best way to start another meal with an almost full stomach." Ab trudged along silently (he cleaned up a fish and chips earlier).


Having been to the other Camino at King's Cross, I was looking forward to Camino's invitation to its new branch at Canary Wharf. HP, who has this knack of sniffing out good eating places dragged us over to King's Cross sometime back with a firm "you must try this". And I was glad we did. Other than a jug of sandrine, I recalled with fondness Camino's Arroz Negro con calamares (or simply black rice) and grilled gambas among other tapas dishes. Thumping loud music with people shouting trying to get themselves heard, Camino was teeming with the working crowd when we were there on a weekday evening.


"Here we are!" I exclaimed, collapsing my umbrella and giving it a few good flings. The crowd at Canary Wharf's Camino was a far cry from King's cross' on a Friday evening. Then again, we arrived before 7pm on a Friday night, hardly the time for dinner yet. The persistent drizzle isn't exactly a crowd puller too.

Unlike King's Cross' branch, Canary Wharf's Camino has less space to play with. The entire floor area is seperated almost equally into bar and main dining area. There were a couple of souls lingering at the bar counter while only two other tables were occupied at the dining area. Ab and I quickly settled down on a table by the window.


"Would you like a drink to begin with?" Adrienn (the waitress who served us) asked. It didn't take long for her to realise that neither Ab nor myself are into wines, much less Spanish ones, which Camino is known for. "Some cava perhaps?" Adrienn ventured. We took her suggestion and went for the platinum brut, masia bach (£3.95 - 125ml). I gave it a slight twirl round the tongue, refreshing and yesty. The dismal weather outside didn't bother me too much thereafter.


Starters come in the form of pan con tomate (£2.75) and jamon iberico (£7.25), another recommendation by Adrienn. The pan con tomate or tomato bread is essentially grilled bread drizzled with olive oil and topped with chopped tomatoes. Camino's organic version was grilled just right. The tomatoes, which Ab pointed out was chopped and crushed, was spread over a thin later over the grilled bread, thus softening the crunch. A pinch of sea salt was sprinkled on its side to add that bit more taste to it.


The pan con tomate was of course to complement jamon iberico. Thinly sliced ham from free range acorn fed black pigs and cured for 36 months - you'll be hard pressed to find anything better than that. There was the tough yet full flavour imbued into every single slice. More importantly, its saltiness was subdued and that went well with pan con tomate.


Txigorki (£5) was a gamble. Ab balked at the sight of goats' cheese and muttered something about cheese coming from the wrong sources. To be fair, not everyone likes goats' cheese. Fine, given a choice, most of us would give it a miss. But the thought of sundried tomatoes with oregano on basque styled bread was rather tempting.

I thought that Camino can go easier on the layer of goats' cheese. Let's put it this way, if you are not a fan of goats' cheese to begin with, this wouldn't make you one.


The crowd pleaser was up next. Arroz Negro con calamares (£6.50) never fails to put a smile on my face. Calasparra rice cooked with squid ink and cuttlefish to give it its unmistakable colour and consistency. The calamari on top added the chewiness to the thick black rice. Oh, it was served pipping hot too and was still as good as I remembered it to be.


I loved the pinchitos morunos (£5.75). the lamb skewers had got the light yet smokey taste. Flavoured by just a bit of sea salt, I quickly cleared my stick. Ab was more reserved about this one,"It's too chewy. Tenderness' good but it's way too chewy."


Presa iberica (£9.50) was perhaps the highlight of the evening. Iberico black pig shoulder grilled to a crisp on the outside and still pinkish in the interior, ever so lightly salted, sliced and served with a dark sweet sauce. Adrienn told us that it was sherry based. Boy, this tasted heavenly. Even Ab was nodding his approval as we quickly cleaned it off. For my next visit, this would be the first one that I'd go for.

For dessert, I went for the crema catalana (£4.50). It did looked like the typical creme brulee when it arrived at our table. The catalan custard cream, however, tasted richer and had more depth than your run of the mill creme brulee.


Ab's tarta de santiago (£5) was an tart made with almond essence with a slight helping of almond nuts on the side. While it looked somewhat unspectacular, a small cup of warm milk helped brighten up the dessert a bit.


It was nearer to 9pm towards the end of the meal and the dining area was barely a quarter filled. The drizzle outside had died of a natural death and two couples were huddling outside determined to grab a smoke. The lights at Camino were dimmed a bit and the volume of background music was toned up slightly. There was a nice relaxing atmosphere all round with Wharf workers gradually filing in for a round before heading off for the weekend. Admittedly, Camino's location isn't exactly at the heart of Canary Wharf but its tried and tested formula might just win the day yet - provided the weather holds up.

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The London Foodie said...

I also greatly enjoyed my visit at Camino, my favourite dishes were the Arroz Negro and the Presa Iberica. I will certainly return.

Luiz @ The London Foodie

C K said...

Hey Luiz,
Seems that Arroz Negro is a hot favorite. Have been telling others working in the area of Camino as well. I would imagine dining outside by the waterfront would be quite an experience assuming the weather permits.

hotels in canary wharf said...

Spending a sunny day there is a dream to me. Camino is a great place for dining :)