East London

Published on May 26th, 2015 | by Ben Southwood


The Pearson Room, Canary Wharf

The Pearson Room, Canary Wharf Ben Southwood

Summary: A surprisingly decent restaurant despite being a jack of all trades


Cocktail of Cuisine

I’ve got to say that—at least to me—the prospect of a restaurant in a sports club in a glass box in Canary Wharf is not a hot one. What’s more, the type of restaurant that The Pearson Room aims to be is not exactly up my street. Most restaurants that try and do a lot of things (e.g. both buttermilk fried chicken, lobster pasta, and Barnsley chop) well do all of them badly. But despite all of this I had a hugely enjoyable evening here and it really is a surprisingly decent place.

It’s situated a couple of floors above Waitrose in Reebok Sports Club, with a view out on Canada Square, with HSBC on the right and typical Canary Wharf giants on the other two sides. It’s not the best view or the worst view. Sometimes the setting sun blasts right through the glass into your eyes, which is a mix of pleasant and blinding. While we were eating there was a sort of pub quiz coming through a microphone. The crowd seemed to be nicely dressed workers from the nearby financial institutions, which is exactly what you’d expect.

The Pearson Room Cocktails

The cocktail list is extensive, perhaps too long to choose from. I had to ask for recommendations each time I wanted a drink. But all of the recommendations turned out to be tip-top: a house negroni where Kamm & Sons replaced Campari, a sweet dill-based concoction (the ‘Dillicious’) supposedly popular with the ladies, the ‘Zanjeer’ with cognac, Drambuie, home-made ginger syrup and lemon juice. They cost £9 to £12, which seems to be about the going rate anywhere nowadays.

The menu fits on a page, which is always a good sign, but it risks trying to do too much and please too wide a crowd. There are about 40 dishes with wide-ranging influences—not so much fusion as mulch. But it turned out that our deep-fried baby squid were pretty good: softly rubbery inside and crisp and salty on the outside. The maple syrup coated nuts they brought as a snack were unbelievably moreish—I had to hold myself back to save space for mains.

Pretzel Fried Chipirones

The catch of the day—sea bass—was fresh, soft, moist, and a generous portion, with a very crispy skin. The only drawback was the ‘chutney’—actually some chopped aubergine with sultanas—and the slivers of soft courgette on the side. The former would have been better puréed and the latter crunchy and raw. But that’s my own personal preference rather than objective truth. The half lobster in the lobster pasta seemed a bit small, but perhaps because we split it between two; the crustacean itself was delicious but the pasta was a bit bland.

Sea bass

My favourite was the guinea fowl, which looked like half a bird, but cunningly butterflied so the dark leg and thigh and light breast were all in one piece with a surprisingly thick and crispy piece of skin laid on top. It looked a lot like the sea bass but thicker, denser and of course meatier. They told us the bird was wild—rather than farmed as guinea fowl tend to be nowadays—and it tasted it, with a flavour somewhat like the crispy outside of a sautéed chicken breast even on the soft inside of the muscle. Mains were about £20, starters about £7, salads, pasta and sandwiches about £14.

Lobster spaghetti

The Pearson Room doesn’t look like a good bet, but it turns out to be a surprisingly reliable spot.


The Pearson Room, 16-19 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5ER

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