We’re a family friendly website on here people, get your mind out of the gutter. This fine establishment is five minutes walk from my East End Abode and I can well attest to its greatness. Here is Gentleman Loves Cake to tell you about one of the best local restaurants around. I hope you’ve eaten right now because this, again, left me ravenous…
“He was hardly more than five feet four inches but carried himself with great dignity. His moustache was very stiff and military. Even if everything on his face was covered, the tips of moustache and the pink-tipped nose would be visible.”
Oh how I’ve always loved Hercule Poirot – Agatha Christie’s leading man – the most enduring and dapper super-sleuth of them all. So being seated in a restaurant and discovering I’d be dining alongside the most famous Belgian of them all, was really quite a treat.
I probably need to unravel this mystery a little further.
On my first visit to Il Bordello in Wapping, I was shown to a table just feet from where David Suchet was enjoying dinner with his brother, former ITN newsreader, John.
In a similar fashion to the time I bumped into Sir Ian McKellen and his two sausage dogs at The Grapes on Narrow Street, I think this serendipitous experience has given me what will be a life-long love of this cosy eatery, one of the Thames Path’s best-kept secrets and surely one of the finest local restaurants in London.
More Italian than a Fiat 500 with a wheel of Parmesan strapped to the roof, Il Bordello (The Brothel) is located barely into Zone 2, just a spit from the Thames, over the road from the wonderful Captain Kidd pub, and a mere stroll east of Tower Bridge through the chain-dominated and relentlessly disappointing St Katherine Docks.
With tables cosily packed and a centre bar resplendently clad in shiny copper, the dining room is quite an experience in itself. Combine this with a small army of pensionable-aged and waistcoated Italian gentlemen running the floor, it becomes increasingly clear why this restaurant always seems to have a queue snaking from the door.
So the stage is impressively set. But Il Bordello is unequivocally and unashamedly all about the food. With starters the size of mains and mains bigger than the sun, no one is ever going to go hungry. But where Il Bordello really succeeds is in the clever variety of its menu, and success in translating well-known and traditional Italian fare from page to plate in the heart of the East End.
This place is no pizzeria, but Il Bordello offers a classic selection on perilously thin bases with circumferences close to that of the London Orbital. Order the seafood version and an entire aquarium will arrive at your table.
Antipasti is widely covered, as are salads, seafood and fish. But, predictably resorting to carnivorous type, it’s the ‘carni’ section of the menu which provides the real treats – and it is very difficult to look past the five offerings of veal, especially the chop grilled with sage, butter and wine.
Desert? Tiramisu. Done.
We all know London can occasionally feel a little impersonal. From the large chains seen throughout the capital looking to pack you in and turn you around quickly, all the way through to the must-eat, special-occasion restaurants which have their sights set on the (Michelin) stars, it often feels like some places have lost the art of providing genuine hospitality with character and atmosphere and an authenticity which is, well, authentic.
But if you head just slightly off the beaten track and look down a side street or two, you’ll never find yourself too far away from a genuine local restaurant – somewhere both in and of the area it serves.
Whenever I need a restaurant in London, Il Bordello always makes the shortlist.
I’ve done the detective work for you, so give it a go, whilst I sit here and twiddle my imaginary moustache…
Il Bordello can be found at 81 Wapping High Street, London E1W 2YN. Nearest tubes are Wapping High Street and Tower Hill.