REVIEW: FISH GAME, CANARY WHARF
Roberto Costa’s New Seafood and Wild Meat Destination is Top of its Game
Canary Wharf - once a soulless, weekend ghost town, where even tumbleweed dared not blow - has had a foodie revolution in recent years, with restaurants including Caravan, Six by Nico, Blacklock, Hawksmoor and inventive arts and culture programming transforming it into a buzzing, mini Manhattan.
One of the most exciting, new kids on its gastronomic block comes in the shape of Fish Game which, true to its name, puts seafood, wild meat and ultra-seasonal, British ingredients centre stage. Dishes are slow cooked over charcoal in a culinary theatre, thanks to a bank of diner-facing grills and table-side preparation.
The menu’s concept of earth, sea and sky brought together by fire is tastefully represented in the cosy interior, which includes elaborate wooden octopus carvings, warm tan and emerald leather seating and glass tables supported by tree trunks. Like the ingredients, the interior also features sustainably sourced (vintage and beautifully reclaimed) furniture.
And as we sip on our Espresso Martinis to pore over the dishes, Roberto Costa serves us at the table - he’s the impressive restaurateur behind Italian steak brand behemoth, Marcellaio RC and owner of Fish Game, which proudly celebrates his Italian roots. With infectious passion, he talks us through the beautifully illustrated menu's map, showing the meticulously sourced provenance of the fish and game, from Cornwall to the Orkneys.
We hand the decision making over to him, and a succession of five, beautifully inventive starters arrive at the table.
The experience starts with two, light and crisp balls of game arancini, topped with a glossy crown of whisky ketchup and served on a small log. Next comes the Moray Firth squid - meaty, light, fresh and served on a bed of salty, fried cavolo nero (Tuscan kale) topped with fermented chilli.
Their famous, Tigella starter has been recommended to us by friends, and with good reason. This Italian street food has been given a British twist, with fluffy, lightly charred muffins stuffed with Windsor Great Park rabbit and offals, slowly cooked over charcoals. Blissful moans break out around our table, as we savour the rich, gamey flavours combined with parsley, garlic and lemon.
The raw, Isle of Bay langoustines are prepared at our table, where Roberto Costa theatrically blowtorches the fish through sprigs of rosemary and wilts the samphire that they sit on, before mixing the pomegranate citronette to drizzle over them. These are wonderfully soft, tender and juicy.
But the real showstopper is the venison tartare with bone marrow. While I admire my vegan friends, I could happily suck a cow’s skeleton dry, and bone marrow is my Kryptonite. Again, this is prepared table-side. And we eat this in euphoric silence, tapping through the brûlée-like crust with our spoons, scooping the sticky, fatty marrow and spreading it on the toasted bread. Juicier and with more bite than its beef counterpart, the venison tartare was perfectly paired with the marrow, and its salad of parsley, black olives and fresh chilli.
We move onto the mains. The Cornish monkfish arrives on the bone, with firm, meaty and lobster-like flesh, beautifully prepared with rosemary, lime and Smoked Maldon salt.
We share this alongside the mutton and broccoli main. Mutton beats bland lamb on the flavour and sustainability front. And Roberto explains that the secret behind Fish Game’s excellent, Swaledale rump is that they are culled after seven years - rather than the general two to three years - which means it has greater fat and muscle, so more flavour. These beautifully rosy-centred cuts have been slow-cooked and marinated in fresh mint and mustard, with chilli broccoli and a shallot vinaigrette, which cuts through the strong, gamey flavours.
There’s an extensive wine list, with more than 200 labels. We wash our dishes down with the restaurant's own Prosecco Rose, made with 100% glera grapes. It’s light, refreshing and the crispy acidity provides the perfect palate cleanser between the gamey dishes and beautiful pairing for the seafood
The dishes are light and fresh, so despite ramming our chops with eight of them, we are not swollen, sweaty blobs of indigestion and have space for a little dessert. And praise the lords of digestion that we do, because this comes in the shape of the best tiramisu ever to pass my lips.
It’s prepared table-side and we watch the waitress soak the sponge fingers in coffee, before unscrewing the base of the jug to reveal the pre-whipped Marscapone, which she smothers them with, finishing with a dusting of cocoa powder. It’s light, creamy with sweet coffee and marsala wine bursting from the sponge in our mouths.
We meet the restaurant’s Executive Head Chef Matthew Colk on our way out - read our interview with him, here.
He joined Roberto Costa to launch Fish Game in July, celebrating their shared passion for the best edible elements from the earth, sea and sky, brought together by fire.
This is what they intend to be the first of many Fish Game restaurants, and after our delicious evening, we are very much game.
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