London Shell Co review, Regent’s Canal ★★★★★
This taste excursion on the Regent's Canal with London Shell Company is the full five star treatment
In a nutshell: A Jason Atherton protégée is serving best-in-class seafood dishes on a boat on the Regent's Canal.
The welcome: All the comradery of life aboard a seaborne ship awaits, thanks to the friendly and informal management style of sibling owners, Harry and Leah Lobek. He sources the produce, she runs the front-of-house.
The space: Unsurprisingly for a narrow boat on a canal, tables hardly leave room for reclining after 5 courses, and the hum drum of diners resounds - but that is exactly what you're paying for on this bright and cheery adaptation of the staid riverboat cruise.
Expectations of rustic hipster makeshift (which would still have been lovely) were usurped by absolutely charming luxury. Buffed golden fixtures and fittings compete with stately heavyweight cutlery and glassware feature. This is opulence defined, with a side of adventure.
Don't miss a trip to the bow at Maida Hill Tunnel, where a spectacular optical illusion is reminiscent of the boating scene in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.
Food and drink: Never again do we want to hear that a kitchen can be too small!
The rate and vastness of dishes leaving the 'kitchen' aboard the HMS Prince Regent dispels that myth entirely.
When we dined, eight varied and expectation-upturning dishes flew out of a cookery hatch ten times smaller than the average kitchen.
When we overheard that preparation requires the chef's call time to be impossibly early in the mornings, we felt even luckier to be part of this militant operation of greatness in the most difficult of spaces.
We couldn't decide whether the careful and theatrical dishes or the intriguing wine pairings from independent vineyards captured us most.
We had small plates of oysters, smoked roe and then pickled herring in a sublime hollandaise. We had cod fillet with cannelloni beans and smoked leeks, "angel hair" fries and a devilishly good apple crumble with Pomona cream.
From the seven wines paired, four were English and highlights were a sprightly Kingston Black aperitif from Somerset's Cider Brandy Company; Hattingley Valley's superb Classic Cuvee from Hampshire and the oak-barrel-matured Somerset Pomona, a new-age Brit classic and night-closer at 20%, in a show stopping tangerine orange.
Would we return? You'd be forgiven for assuming that dinner on a boat would either be novelty and hip, or sad and commercial.
But such thoughts will get you in deep water - Leah and Harry's tips are expert, and this canal boat's 10 year lease is here to stay.
|What||London Shell Co review, Regent’s Canal|
|Nearest tube||Camden Town (underground)|
01 Dec 2016 – 01 Dec 2026, Cruise times vary, please see website
|Price||££45 lunch, £60 dinner|
|Website||Click here to book via the London Shell Co.|