Places To Eat In London: The Gun, Docklands
When I approach reviewing a restaurant, especially in a big city such as London where people sometimes never repeat a restaurant, while I want to give you my take on some of the cities hottest new openings (mainly because I want an excuse to try them for myself!) I also like to seek out hidden treasures that no one seems to know about, and visit some old haunts you may not of thought of for dinner to see what they’re doing now. When one of my usual restaurant review partners in crime and I were invited along to check out dinner at The Gun way out in London’s Docklands the other week we had a funny little dinner that we could not quite form a strong opinion of, but found a few strong reasons why this pub needs to be on your radar.
While it is a bit of a sod to get to (a good 20 minutes walk from Canary Wharf station, 10 minutes from the nearest DLR stop) and there is nothing much else around it, it is a lovely, old, traditional pub inside (perfect for cozying up during the coming winter months) and while it’s outdoor terrace is small (only 6 or 7 tables) it has an incredible view out over the water to the O2. There is also a dining room across the rest of the terrace with the same view out of the window where you can take a table for drinks or food.
However, with the drinks stick to the classics. There is a really lovely, really impressive wine list at The Gun with everything from a good by the glass selection to end of barrel and vintage bottles, and they have a great line up of local beers and spirits (including a very impressive gin collection) behind the bar, too. They do have some house G&T serves which I was excited by (I always get excited to try a new way to Gin Mare) but were rather disappointing, and I ended up leaving my ‘Garden of England’ gin cocktail as it was just too sour.
Once it was time for our reservation we moved inside, I ordered a very nice glass of Sancerre, we tucked into some good bread and I enjoyed the highlight of the meal for me: the oysters. Any time I see oysters on the menu I have to have them as one of my all time favourite foods, and these were not just delicious oysters but there was literally nothing I could fault with their preparation. They were beautifully presented on ice that was still frozen (you don’t want to know about why that is now something I look for!), and came with perfectly done examples of my must have oyster trio: excellent shallot vinegar, lemon wedges with the seeds removed, and a choice of tabasco. At just over £1 each they’re typically priced for the city, so if you need just one reason to visit The Gun, it is to book a terrace table with a couple of friends if you’re looking to celebrate something, choose a special bottle of white wine, and to order your weight in oysters.
For our starters he ordered the English asparagus, crispy fried egg, bacon crisps and potato rosti, served with a homemade HP sauce. It looked good on the plate, and he loved the quality of the ingredients and how the simple flavours were really allowed to shine. Another thing I always order if they’re on the menu are the scallops, so I had them with spiced Lincolnshire sausage, roasted corn, broad beans and a lime paprika pickle. They were lovely and seasonal, and the scallops were rich, plump and perfectly cooked, but I did not think the dish melted together as well as it could have done, perhaps not enough sauce? I just could not help but think back and compare the dish to the last plate of scallops I had at Applebee’s in Borough Market, where the pork belly and scallops on a bed of puree I we were served was utterly sublime.
For our mains we really went to town on the gender stereotypes, him having a massive great steak and me one of the fish dishes. The steaks are 45 day Cumbrian rare breed, and do not come in cheap, with a sirloin (450g) starting at £29, a rib eye (500g) priced at £32 and a Chateaubriand for two (600g) at £58. While it was good meat that was perfectly cooked, his piece had a bit too many gristle and other bits that needed to be cut away leaving not enough meat, and the bernaise sauce was a little thick. However, the chips were perfect.
My pan fried sea bass with grilled artichokes, heritage tomatoes, crispy kale, garlic spinach purée, radish and potato crisps was excellent fun. It looked so pretty on the plate, and there were so many colours, flavours, temperatures and textures, from the crunchy, light kale, to the crisp fish skin, and the cool, perfect seasonal tomatoes while the dish was rather retro and I did not understand the splodges of green, it was still enjoyed.
For dessert, I had the strawberry tart with coconut cream and a elderflower strawberry sorbet and he had the praline chocolate mousse with apricot sorbet. The desserts were solid with good ingredients, but I think the rather retro presentation, and that they were lacking that indulgent, more-ish quality let them down a bit. However, a special shout out needs to be made to whichever guy in the kitchen has the job of making the sorbets; they were both simply flawless, fresh, bright distillations of their flavours for a real fresh burst of flavour with every bite. They need to start offering these separately.
Don’t get me wrong, while I have written much worse, this is not the most glowing restaurant review I have ever written. I think the food at The Gun is not really in keeping with the nice atmosphere of the bar, and the dining room takes you back to the 80’s/ 90’s food scene where I’d probably put money on the chef being from too. The restaurant staff are so attentive and provided absolutely flawless service, but while I will hands up accept that she may be new and still learning so I won’t hold it against her, the girl serving us in the bar is not long for the restaurant world if she does not learn how to pull a pint properly! But all that being said, we had a good time and as I also mentioned, there are a few solid reasons to take the trip out to The Gun: go for the oysters, wine and the view, to enjoy their beer garden in the sunshine, or if you’re looking for somewhere cozy, out the way but still with a buzz for drinks on a first or second date.