For far too long, Towpath Cafe has been dominating the pitstop trade along Regent's Canal between Angel Islington and Broadway Market. When the sun is out, with the crowds out in full force and spilling onto the sidewalks, there is only so much coffee and cakes people can have. Waterline, a restaurant and bar, has recently opened up right next to Towpath Cafe.
Waterline is an excellent example of what can be done to a former warehouse (presumably). With its ceilings and internal walls torn off, the unit has been converted to airy restaurant brightly lit by natural light. Like Towpath Cafe, Waterline has provided some seatings on the bank of Regent's Canal. I wouldn't be surprised if it takes a leaf out of Towpath's book by attaching a barge along the bank and plonk some tables there as well.
Although Waterline starts serving lunch only after noon, the entire restaurant floor was filled up by 1pm. the latecomers had to seated at the bar nursing an early cocktail. Despite London's fickle weather, reservation is absolutely necessary if you don't want to wait on a bar stool. Even then, you can amuse yourself with the Guardian and Observer strategically perched on a wall. Either those or the thick tomb of Farclough's Ideal Cookery Book.
Sporting a full menu, it caters to those who are looking for more than a light bite and complements its neighbour in that sense. I pleasantly surprised to find that the pricing is rather reasonable - its Sunday menu offers a two course lunch for £14.95 while a three course lunch goes for £16.95. Considering that its roast lamb mains is going for £14.95, the set meal is a steal.
The omelette with herbs and cheese was a tad dry for my liking. Served with a generous portion of side salad, it is a light meal on its own.
Roast lamb, which is the most substantial of Waterline's Sunday menu, looked rather tired when served. The watery gravy didn't help matters. There was no sign of any mint sauce that might help salvage the meat. In fact, that task fell to the accompanying roast potatoes, broccoli and carrots, which actually tasted quite good.
Seared salmon, on the other hand, was so beautifully presented that it could very well be served from a different kitchen altogether. Flower petals and bobs of sauces dotted the place like an artist palette with a thick slab of nicely done salmon (skin slightly crisped) right at the centre - it felt almost sacrilegious to touch the dish at all.
What sets Waterline apart is the small cinema screening room / studio at the back of the restaurant. Through it, they have baby clubs (screening the likes of Contagion), kids club (i.e. Brother Bear) and adult screenings (i.e. Tucker & Dale vs Evil), it is a haven for those who find Screen on the Green too much of a trek.
Dessert was chocolate mousse. By this time, LO was getting restless and we requested to have it served in the cinema screening room, which the staff gladly obliged. I suspect it was so that they can free up the table for another seating but I can't possibly have any complains about that, can I? Thick and rich, it went well with the sour tinge of the small berries that came with it.
Food clearly isn't Waterline's forte. Being relatively new, there are signs that the setup hasn't properly run in yet - its bread counter set under stairway requires the staff to stoop while slicing bread, other than the lead waiter, the remaining staff while pleasant looked bewildered when it started to get crowded, when enquired about cinema screenings, a staff referred me to the lead waiter saying that "he knows everything".
However, with summer just round the corner and the temperature picking up, I'm sure those who frequent Regent's Canal would overlook all that. If pricing and location are key to a restaurant's success, Waterline has done it just right.
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