Ratty had it spot on when he said there is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. I’ve always loved just being on the water, whether it’s jumping off the back of a catamaran into turquoise seas (who wouldn’t?), building makeshift vessels as a child and seeing if we could make it down a river or braving the Thames at 6am on a winter morning when I dabbled in rowing. I also love eating. So when Bateaux announced that they were launching a new floating restaurant, Glass Room, I knew I had to go.
It’s a real ‘does what it says on the tin job’, in that it is a giant glass room – you might have seen it floating serenely down the Thames. That said, they haven’t let the fact that it is a restaurant on a boat be it’s only selling point, they could have quite easily made it gimmicky or left the views to do the talking but they haven’t. Designed by Tom Dixon, inside it’s chic, contemporary and nautical with plenty of plants, ultramarine blues and red banquettes. There’s also a bar with back-lit mirrored bottle display and porthole-style lighting and hand blown Murano glass lamps. Oh, and a small balcony so you can get those photos.
Glass Room sets sail for lunch, Sunday lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, offering a range of different set menus. We decided to make the most of our Friday night (doesn’t a weekend seem so much longer when you do something on a Friday night?) and book in for the 2 hour 45 minute cruise with a five course meal.
Championing British produce the menu makes the most of seasonal ingredients, so we started with a fresh pea and mint velouté with coconut yoghurt, sumac and a Cheshire cheese sablé, before moving on to a sweet caramelised onion, cherry tomato and goat’s curd tart and a red pepper essence. Chicken ballotine with pearl barley risotto, asparagus and broad bean was the perfect springtime main course, I just wish there had been more of it. Perhaps because I hadn’t eaten much during the day or perhaps it was because I had been to the gym, but either way at the end of the five courses I could still eat more, a thought echoed by another table around us. For pudding there was Bateaux’s take on an Eton Mess, the classic pudding updated with basil and white chocolate infused with elderflower. To finish there was Isle of Mull cheddar and Colston Basset stilton.
Whilst we were eating, we sailed from Embankment Pier down to Battersea Park and back up towards Greenwich, which 1) means we were going much faster than I anticipated (although apart from some wash created by a Thames Clipper going even faster, there is no need to worry about motion sickness) and 2) you get to see some of London’s most iconic landmarks lit up at night from the Thames which never gets boring.
Admittedly Glass Room isn’t going to be your new local, it’s the sort of restaurant you’d go for a special occasion, but what a way to mark a special occasion. The service was brilliant and personable and the live music gave it a twinkling, warm atmosphere without any suggestion of it being a glorified booze cruise.
Glass Room sets sail daily from Embankment Pier