The Narrow is a gastropub on the river in Limehouse near Canary Wharf that is part of the Gordon Ramsay group of restaurants. It opened in its present form in 2007, though the place was previously a pub called The Barley Mow. It is directly on the river and several tables have fine views out over the water. The menu was fairly appealing, with pub staples like fish and chips and assorted British dishes. I was puzzled to see “Jersey Royals” on the menu given this was September (whose season runs at best from April through July), but perhaps the kitchen has access to a time machine. The wine list started at £25 and sample references were Chapel Down Bacchus Reserve 2015 at £38 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £18, and Trimbach Riesling Reserve 2015 at £65 for a wine that will set you back £24 in the high street, and Domaine Alain Chavy Puligny Montrachet 2015 at £130 compared to its retail price of £40.
Chicken liver parfait came with toasted brioche and hazelnut dressing. The brioche was fine, but the parfait had been left out of the fridge quite a long time and was suffering in texture, being quite runny. It did not have a lot of liver flavour though the hazelnuts were pleasant (11/20). Smoked salmon with toast, crème fraiche, pickled cucumber, and watercress was fairly sorry for itself. There was not much salmon, and what there was consisted of small strips that were a bit hard in places and quite salty; more pickled cucumber would have been beneficial. There was no comparison between this and the excellent version at Parlour, for example, where the salmon is smoked on the premises and served with home made soda bread. Yet this dish, inferior in every possible aspect, was pricier than the Parlour version (10/20).
Haddock and chips arrived, the fish being in the most pallid looking batter than I can recall. The fish inside it was at least cooked, but the chips were almost completely cold. When I pointed this out they did manage to rustle up a separate side portion of hot chips at least. Bear in mind that this shambolic dish (10/20 is kind), with its cold chips and dodgy batter, was priced at £18, £3 more than the borderline perfect version of the same dish at The Scran and Scallie, and almost twice the price of the well-regarded version at Masters Superfish in Southwark.
By this stage nothing was going to rescue thus meal, so we skipped dessert. Service was, not to put too fine a point on it, poor. When we arrived we had some difficulty finding where to check in, and a waiter finally directed us to an empty desk where we waited, and waited some more. Eventually a manager turned up and announced that as we were fifteen minutes late (which by the time he turned up, we were, just) our reservation had been cancelled. He then said that he would see if he could fit us in, which seemed pretty likely given that we actually had a reservation and hence a table, and there appeared to be no walk-in traffic eagerly bidding for our newly free table. There are a few dining areas here plus a bar, but we were eventually shown to our original table, which at least had a nice river view. The waiter and waitress that we encountered were perfectly pleasant, though the one question that I asked about the menu, which the waitress had referred to the kitchen, went unanswered. This is a pub and I don’t expect Le Gavroche levels of service, but it was all rather unwelcoming.
The bill came to £67 per person with decent wine but no dessert or coffee. If you had three courses and coffee and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per person might come to around £65. This is way too much money given the fairly dismal level of the food that we ate here. Add in the mediocre service and the only thing that this place has going for it is the view over the river. If only there was some sort of celebrity chef TV program available where a former top chef could go in and sort out under-performing nightmarish kitchens by shaming the current staff, simplifying the menu and applying a coat of paint to the place, eh Gordon?