The Reverend Eats … All Bar One Shad Thames
A lazy Tuesday afternoon and I was feeling a little stir-crazy. I have been enjoying cooking and catching up on my recorded TV but I really needed to get out in the fresh air. It wasn’t raining but was quite cold so put on my warm jacket and headed out for a walk. We are very lucky that we live close to the river and so within moments we are alongside the Thames. In an area called ‘Shad Thames’ there are a number of bars and restaurants and I had already picked out ‘All Bar One’ as somewhere for a quick drink and maybe something light to eat.
Outside All Bar One Shad Thames
It does have a view to be envious of! To the left there is Tower Bridge and the skyline of The City behind it. To the right there is Canary Wharf. Joining the two is the Thames and various river crafts that travel along it. The river-frontage does have a number of restaurants and bars and if you want to, you can head onto Shad Thames road where you’ll find some more restaurants but without the river view.
Inside All Bar One Shad Thames
All Bar One is a chain so the inside was nothing to be amazed by. It was lacking a personal touch in the styling but we managed to find a big table with a curved sofa to sit at. Sometimes bars/restaurants don’t want 2 people sitting at anything that isn’t a table for two, however All Bar One didn’t mind at all. Maybe it was because it was quieter or maybe it was because we are lovely people? All I do know is that we had a comfortable seat and could sit next to each other while looking out to the river and Tower Bridge.
Being a chain means that the menu is available on-line. I had already checked it out before we left and saw they did ‘small plates’. Unsure whether these would be tapas or starters I knew there would be enough choice for us to have one or two with a drink. There is a ‘normal’ menu with Burgers/fish and chips/burritos if that is more your thing. All Bar One also have a Set Menu which starts at £10, for those on a budget. If you are catching up with friends and fancy a bottle of wine for FREE then if you order 4 of the ‘small plates’ then they give you a house bottle of wine! Not a bad deal at all!
Originally we had planned on getting the 3 small plates for £17 however as we hadn’t been here before, and the menu recommends 2 people share 5 plates for £27, we went for 5 small plates. Our choices were;-
- Bruschetta with crushed Avocado
- Buttermilk Chicken Wings in a Korean glaze
- Salt & Pepper Calamari
- Ginger Teriyaki Chicken Skewers
- Halloumi Fries
Unsure how small these small plates would be, I also added a portion of seasoned fries. I was expecting small plates when I ordered. What arrived was mixed when it came to sizes!
The Bruschetta had far too much of the tomato salsa. It really is a ‘first world problem’, I do understand that, but it made eating them much more messier than it needed to be. We even took to removing some of the salsa before eating. It was like they had the correct salsa quantity for much larger pieces of bread or they had a lot of salsa that needed using up and just dumped huge tablespoons of it on each bruschetta! 5 slices of bread meant that this was certainly larger in serving size than we were expecting.
The bread was cold, the avocado was more of a puree than ‘crushed’ and the salsa was cold and tasteless. A real disappointment. There was plenty of them, which works in a sharing small plate. I only had one of them and didn’t fancy any more. I could have filled up a jar with the left over salsa and used it through-out the year! Not that I would have wanted to serve it to any of my friends…..
I Do Love Chicken Wings!
The chicken wings were a choice of mine – you know I love a bit of fried chicken! Disappointingly there were only 4 small chicken wings. Or more correctly, only 4 small chicken half-wings. On the plus side at least it was the ‘upper’ section and not the ‘wing’ section so there was a bit more meat on them. The buttermilk coating was lovely and crispy and the drizzled glaze gave it just the right amount of flavour. I did dip a wing into the extra sauce but found it was too much and didn’t improve the flavour of the chicken wings. The freshly sliced chilli and spring onion were a nice added touch.
The taste really did work on these chicken wings. Sweet, tangy, crispy and chickeny. Avoid using the additional sauce as it will overpower the chicken completely and you won’t enjoy them as much.
The 3rd small plate was the calamari. As you can see from the picture, it was not a ‘small plate’ at all. Tons of calamari and it came with a classic sweet chilli dipping sauce. They obviously had some left over chilli/spring onion from the chicken wings and it did help break up the bland beigeness of the calamari. I don’t like seafood (prawns being an exception) so I didn’t try these myself.
Most of the calamari was eaten. I took this as a good sign and there was plenty of it. A good dish to order if you are sharing with friends.
Chicken Skewers – Oh No!
Next up were there Chicken Skewers. My first thought was that someone from the kitchen had got hungry and eaten part of one of the skewers! With only 3 skewers being offered, it wasn’t chicken I had spare to share! A bit like the chicken wings, it really should have had at least 4 skewers as even the full sized ones didn’t have much meat. The inconsistency of the sizes was confusing to say the least. Imagine you were trying to share this meal with someone (which I was!), 5 Bruschetta – 4 Wings – 3 Skewers. That’s not how sharing dishes are supposed to work!
This was the biggest disappointment of the order. Not only were there only 3 skewers. Not only was one of the skewers of chicken tiny. The real shame was how bland and flavourless they were. Ginger is a power-house of a flavour and teriyaki is no retiring wallflower. How can you get this so wrong?
The final small plate was the Halloumi fries. This is where the meal redeemed itself. There were plenty of the Halloumi fries. They were served with a wedge of lemon and it really seemed out of place. It got moved to the Calamari plate – the lemon wedge’s natural home. The fries were large, tasty and had a good breaded coating.
Winner of the meal! Great taste, good quantity and decent size ‘fries’. If you are ordering from the ‘small plate’ menu at All Bar One then this is certainly one of the plates that you should add to the order.
The seasoned chips were good. Very hot, which is becoming rarer with chips for some reason, and with a light seasoning. They were crispy with only 2 chips that had somehow ended up ‘soggy’. Two small chips out of a whole bucket, I’m happy with that.
This was a very late lunch for 2, including drinks. The total bill was about £38 including tip. We felt it was over-priced for what we ate and next time we would get only the Halloumi, Wings and calamari for £17 instead of £32.
The Reverend’s Final Thought
Great location, good staff and a mixture of food. There are plenty of other things on the small plate menu that might appeal, or you might even want to try the set menu or just order a la carte. We weren’t rushed by the waiting staff and we spent an enjoyable hour chatting, eating and relaxing while the world (and the river) passed by us.
If you are near Tower Bridge and you head east rather than west (towards London Bridge) you can explore a part of London that doesn’t get the huge number of tourists the south bank does. During the summer it gets packed so try to get there before the offices nearby close at 5pm then you can get a seat and enjoy the river, the view of Tower Bridge and seeing the sun set on the greatest city in the world! (I might be slightly biased!)