Review by Clare Hastings on The Prince Regent
It started with a slight panic due to the adverse weather conditions which resulted in delays on the circle line to Paddington. Would the boat leave without us? Of course not! As soon as you step on board, you know that a good evening lies ahead. Where better to eat fish than a floating fish restaurant. Your journey starts canal side at the back of Paddington station, in an area that’s been distinctly gentrified. The good thing is you really can’t miss the boat, which is a major plus if you are experiencing a slight panic. The greeting dockside is warm and welcoming. This is a wide beam barge, so the tables are close together, but you certainly don’t feel claustrophobic, except in the kitchen, where the team manage the galley. If I was the chef, I would definitely beg to reverse the design.
As we were only two, we shared a table. This could be a risk, but looking around the guests on board were a cheery, friendly crew, expecting a happy night. We obviously got an excellent draw, sharing with Helen George and her partner Jack Ashton, who were taking a night off to celebrate Helen’s birthday. Apologies to both if we were a bit chatty…….
The cruise takes you down the canal through Little Venice, up past the zoo and along to Camden before turning back to Paddington. The Maida Hill tunnel is a treat as are the houses, ducks, gardens and river folk. Expect a bit of waving to those shore side. The journey takes around two and a half hours, the route is chosen so you don’t have to go through any locks and the time vanishes in a blink. Definitely go up front to take in the views, otherwise, you become so preoccupied with the food it is easy to forget you are on a boat. The food is seriously good. There is no choice, the menu changes daily and there are five fish courses. The beer battered Dorset Estuary Oysters definitely deserve a mention, potted shrimps took on a new meaning and the poached Hake was cooked to perfection. The crew also take their wine seriously, and if you do too you can opt for the pairing menu, which comes at an extra £10. We didn’t, but the wine and drinks list is comprehensive.
I really can’t think of anything not to enjoy about the evening. If you don’t like sharing a table it could be an issue, but you could take more friends or book to sit up at the ‘bar’. If you want to avoid the transport panic the boat and bar are open an hour before departure, so really there is masses of time to settle in. It does get noisy, so you are more likely to talk to the person next door than the one opposite. This is a lovely night out. We would certainly go again, and indeed again... If you don’t know the canal you should. Unexpected London, providing what London does best, a unique dining experience that lives up to its promise.
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