Bokan 37 review: high-altitude fine dining
An ambitious bar and restaurant, with stunning views across London
Towering above Canary Wharf, at the top of a glimmering glass-plated Novotel, sits the restaurant, bar and rooftop terrace complex Bokan.
Split across three floors, the bar and eatery is guided by chef Guillaume Gillan, a graduate of L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in London’s West End.
The vista alone from the vertiginous restaurant and bar would have been enough to draw in punters, but after a few years of fine tuning, the food on display here is now every bit as good as the panoramic views the location affords.
The experience begins in the bar and terrace on levels 38 and 39 respectively, where the view across the capital opens out before you. The terrace is the true star of the show, especially with spring arriving and the light lingering later into the evening. On a clear afternoon as the sun begins to dip below the skyline, the inviting lounges and soft candlelight make for a romantic setting.
On colder days, though, the bar one level down is a solid alternative, shielded from the elements, but with much of the same relaxed charm as the upstairs terrace.
After drinks, the main event beckons on level 37, where Gillan’s ambition becomes apparent.
The menu is modern European with influences from around the world, championing fine British produce – think teriyaki eel with foie gras terrine and seared hake with wakame (a kind of seaweed) sauce and Oscietra caviar.
To begin, my dining partner goes for one of the most complicated dishes on the menu – an organic Welsh egg, which comes served with garlic foam, broad bean & apricot ragu and an unusual (and unusually delicious) fungus, the Scarlet elf cup, which looks, well, like a red cup. I opt for a crab and coriander concoction which features blood orange jelly and a yoghurt sauce. Gillan rarely does things by halves.
For mains, my Guinea fowl comes sheared into slices that look something like the skyscrapers visible in the window in front of us. Here a chunk of 30 St Mary Axe; there a slice of the Shard. Squint and the morel sauce could be a twist of the Thames.
My partner’s Grilled Rhug Estate organic lamb is more of a monolith – a handsome chunk of meat accompanied by panisse, which hints at Gillan’s Gallic roots.
For dessert, we share a chocolate mousse, which comes brilliantly disguised as an Apple, redolent of the lauded pastry chef Cédric Grolet, whose fake fruits at Le Meurice in Paris turned him into an Instagram sensation. This brilliant confection deserves equal acclaim.
For views alone Bokan is hard to beat. But if you can tear your eyes from that skyline to focus on the food in front of you, you will discover that Gillan’s cookery is every bit its equal.
Bokan 37, 40 Marsh Wall, E14 9TP, bokanlondon.co.uk