Review: Paddington's New Floating Restaurant Makes Us Wobbly At The Knees
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There is an old Scottish adage that you can take anything, deep fry it, and it'll taste three times as good.
Alright, we just fabricated that, but we can at least with surety add lobster to the 'batter's better' list. Throw in a punchy homemade chip shop curry sauce, and you've got an encrusted masterpiece of a crustacean on your hands (and all over your digits). It's the dish everyone's to be swooning over on board The Grand Duchess, London Shell Co's second floating restaurant in Paddington. But there's plenty here to set hearts racing.
Unlike its sister vessel, the Duchess is too unwieldy to ply the waterways of north-west London; this journey all take place on the table. The crew of chefs — scurrying about a galley kitchen — are acutely aware of this, tossing together a jewel box of seafood and garden-fresh veg that's as invigorating as a slap around the chops with a rainbow trout.
A plate of raw radishes is a swaggering move, but brings a zingy taramasalata to the fore. The dulse-sprinkled cockles perched on a hefty Mangalica loin, shows you what surf and turf can mean, when you've been graced with an imagination. Fruit salad to finish might sound unimaginative, but a gin and tonic sorbet breathes boozy life into the strawberries and apricots (like the radish, they're almost dripping with dew).
The valedictory shot of honey-infused tequila (discovered on a Bristol bar crawl by one of the Shell Co team) is our posh tot of grog — and proves this place has left all pretentiousness back on dry land. They serve things here not to impress, but because they love them.
There is a caveat: items on the Duchess's menu come and go, meaning that deep fried lobster might not be on during your visit. We can say with confidence, though, that a trip aboard this boat will leave you with wobbly knees. In a good way.
The Grand Duchess, Sheldon Square, Paddington
Last Updated 12 June 2019