Monday, 27 September 2010

Camino - Puerto del Canario, Docklands (yes, the new one)

Camino has all the edgy good looks of a converted warehouse - with exposed brickwork, high ceilings, floor boards, industrial fittings and opens onto a funky bar next door. One wall is all windows, looking out onto the Thames, outdoor seating in summer and presumably some excellent sunsets. Unfortunately, I spent the prime romantic moments of sunset running around Canary Wharf like a stunned rabbit in the headlights - the place remains a black hole maze of mystery to me. But arrive by ferry and you'll land right on Camino's doorstep, a mere tip toe from your first glass of dry, palate cleansing Manzanilla.

About the ferry. Who knew? It's called the Thames Clipper and zips along the Thames past the magical sights and lights of London, picking up and dropping off at stops along the way - including Canary Wharf, Embankment and Waterloo. It's exxie (I paid £4.80 for a single) but it proved to be a wonderful way to to by-pass the disgusting late night Tube to end a fantastic evening.

Camino means "path" or "roadway", in this case between the wonderful regional specialities and wines of Spain on offer. We start with a dry vino de Jerez (sherry), tasting both the Manzanilla "La Gitana" (salty, yeasty, nutty) and the Amontillado (9 years old with almond and hazelnut flavours) before settling on a luxuriously smooth Oloroso Antique, Fernando De Castilla (£5.50/glass). All I can think about is how I would like to start every night with a sherry for the rest of my life.

Our waiter (who proves to be a delight every step of the way) recommends we nibble on a simple txigorki as we fall further in love with our sherry. It's a Basque style bread with sun dried tomato, oregano, peppers and grilled goats cheese (£5). It's alright - and the mellow goats cheese is a good accompaniment to our wine - but it's a bit non descript and, as we suspect, there are better things to come.

Pulpo A La Parrilla arrives straight from the charcoal grill - a hefty, wonderfully tender octopus tentacle with silky olive oil mash and smoky paprika (£9.75). Also from the grill, the Presa Iberica 6oz - luscious slices of charred Iberico black pig shoulder, cooked medium rare (£9.50). It's exquisitely rich and piggy - pure, heavenly indulgence on a plate. Steak lovers will be converted. Pork lovers will lap this one up and lick the plate. If there's one dish not to miss, this is it.

I am almost always disappointed by croquetas but our waiter recommends the Croquetas de Jamon (£4.75) and I'm enjoying the wine so much I go along for the ride. They're surprisingly good - crisp giving way to creamy and, I write on my menu, "grorgois" which I now translate as "gorgeous". And it's still early in the night.

No Spanish feast would be complete without some Jamon Iberico (cured for 36 months), the acorn diet of the pigs giving the ham its unique, sweet flavour. We share a plate which is creamy and delicious, although cut slightly too thick (£7.25). TPG even prefers the Jamon Serrano, meat from the grain fed pig, which has been cured for 18 months (£5.25) -  it's lovely, but for me it's no match for the more decadent Iberico.

Arroz Negro Con Calamares is a garlicky mix of black rice, made from cuttlefish, squid ink and calasparra rice, with baby squid and alioli (£6.50). It sounds like my idea of heaven but unfortunately its saltier than the Dead Sea which throws it out of balance. If they get the seasoning right (and I have a feeling they will), this could be a fabulous dish of contrasting textures which I would have on my table every time.

All fresh meats and eggs are said to be free range and all fish from sustainable sources, mostly caught on the coast of the British Isles.  The all Spanish wine list deserves a special mention. There's so much fun to be had here, even aside from the delectable sherries. Wines are available by the glass, carafe and bottle at reasonable prices, and are listed in order of weight. We accompany our meal with bottle of Petalos, Descendientes De Palacios, 2007/08 (£30) - it's quite a big wine, with cherry flavours and goes well with the food.

For dessert, I have a lovely trio of ice-creams (including ginger and leche) which I slurp up with a sweet, raisoney Pedro Ximinez (£5.50). The Peanut Gallery enjoys the gooey, rich Pastel Chocolate (£5.00) with a satisfying glass of port.

For a significant meal, expect to pay between £35 - £55 per head including wine and service. However, portions are generous so be careful not to over-order on the basis that it's "just" tapas. Before I sign off - there is but one unspeakable horror that needs to be aired. I hope you're sitting down. Nearly every dish (excepting desserts) comes decorated with an inexplicable ... sprig of parsley. A singular sprig. Parsley, be gone.

Greenery aside, this is a terrific little place which the workers of Canary Wharf will likely come to see as a welcome, gluttonous refuge. Nothing less would entice me to the Docklands - but put me on the sherry ferry bound for Camino any day, and I'll be back.

Camino, 28 Westferry Circus, Docklands, London E14  (Tel: 020 7230 7709) 

Greedy Diva was invited to dine as a guest of Camino.

(Camino at Canary Wharf is the newest branch of the original Camino located at Kings Cross. Across from the King's Cross branch is Bar Pepito - a tiny sherry bar (or Andalusian bodega) of the same ownership which I am now bursting to visit. It recently won Time Out London's Best New Bar Award for 2010).

Camino on Urbanspoon


  1. I hope it's better than the original one where we couldn't get served or drink without being scowled at or swallowed by an avalanche of dirty glasses on Saturday night.

    Plus the music was so loud only sign language was possible...

  2. Wow, Octopus looks awesome, and an equally awesome price!!

  3. I went to Camino in Kings Cross well over a year ago and returned again recently; I must say I was disappointed by the move from the sliced octopus on discs of potato with paprika, to the huge tentacle as the former was better. Still had a gorgeous meal though; the portions of padron peppers were generous which pleased me no end.

  4. Miss South - Well they're only new at Camino Wharf so it wasn't yet crazily busy, but service was pretty faultless all round and seemed equally helpful to other tables as to ours.

    Ruari - It was good.

    Lizzie - I wonder why the change? Still, I thought it was really good.

  5. That octopus tentacle looks insanely good! Reminds me of Greece actually hehe :)

  6. I think I'm just bitter because I wanted octopus on Saturday and didn't get to order it. Maybe I'll take my tentacle craving to Canary Wharf...

  7. Catty - Don't remind me! Too painful...

    Miss South - Ha ha, yes give it a try! I think I read that the staff have had a lot of training there. In any case, the extra tentacle might come in handy to ward off the avalanche!

  8. Oh, that tentacle looks great. I'm a sucker (sorry) for big bold presentation. If the flavours match the looks, then Camino could be a great place to eat. I think this will definitely be worth a clipper trip from more central areas. I'm intrigued by the pork too. It sounds fabulous.

    I've been to Pepito (as a warm up to Chilli Cool, bizarrely) and it was lovely. I like the small size and the jamon, as I remember, was very tasty indeed.

  9. Dear Miss South,
    We are very sorry to hear about the level of service you encountered on your Saturday night, we really appreciate you bringing this to our attention and if you have the time to e-mail us day and time of your visit we will look into this in detail. Thank you for letting us know, without these comments from customers we cannot improve our service.
    Camino managers

    Camino Bar and Restaurant
    3, Varnishers Yard
    Regent Quarter
    London N1 9FD
    Ph: 020 7841 7330 (reservations)
    Ph: 020 7841 7331 (general)
    Fax: 020 78417 332

  10. Grubworm -I SO wish I had used the sucker line first. Maybe I can sneak it in up there? Anyways, I am now DESPERATE to go to Bar Pepito soon - we nearly headed there on Sunday, but discovered it's closed that day. I'll be going soon. Need to do something to deal with this hankering sherry and black pig craving.

    Camino - Thanks for your comment and the lovely evening.

  11. wow, that octopus looks AMAZING!

  12. Ditto on the octopus! Pity about the black rice though as that was my favourite dish at Camino (King's Cross) when I visited. Looking forward to try out this Camino myself!

  13. Abigail - It's so hard to find octopus this good. A lovely combination of flavours too.

    London Chow - Yes, I think - given the standards and care here - that the seasoning issue with the black rice won't last long and you'll be left with a really great dish. I visited quite soon after opening so that probably increases the likelihood of 1 or 2 minor "blemishes".

  14. Suspect there is about to be a deluge of Camino posts (writing mine right now!) I liked the black rice the best, oh and the steak, and the pork! So impressed you eradicated the parsley with your comments - oh the power.

  15. Gourmet Chick - So glad you liked it too. A great place. Excellent news on the parsley too!


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