St Katharine Docks, despite its proximity to two of London’s most famous icons – Tower Bridge and the Tower of London – seems to be mostly overlooked by tourists and has a real ‘I know a little place…’ charm.
We should probably thank the Brutalist beast of a hotel by the bridge that hides it away from the world, because who would think that behind that towering concrete block are gleaming docks, imposing yachts, boutique shops, walkways crisscrossing the water and one of London’s most glorious pubs, The Dickens Inn.
And now, this surreal oasis in the city has Dokke, which feels more like a charming, contemporary open-plan living/dining room than a restaurant, and it might just serve London’s most beautiful brunch…
It’s run by luxury private island specialist Neil Wager, who has over 27 years’ experience cooking in some of the world’s best hotels and restaurants, from South Kensington club and Gingerline in London to luxury resorts in the Seychelles and Cambodia. So I should imagine he’s rather used to being surrounded by yachts, chinos and boating shoes.
None of those things are compulsory for a visit to Dokke, but what they hey, let’s get into the spirit of things, don your most elegant boater hat, grab a glass of fizz and channel the spirit of Cannes for a glorious brunch on the dockside terrace.
Dokke is Neil’s first foray into restaurant ownership, and as well as the chic, relaxed, my-home-in-the-Med atmosphere he has created in the restaurant-cum-living room (he’s even sourced beautiful Japanese ceramics from which to graze and rather cool black cutlery), his menu is a thing of beauty.
His penchant for Asian-fusion cuisine suits me just fine, since Japanese food is right up there for me, but I’ll take the spices, the edible flowers and the burgers too, please. Using, of course, only the finest local produce, he adds new-world flourishes of full-on flavours that create contemporary taste sensations.
Even the Dokke Breakfast – which masquerades as sort of run-of-the-mill fry up with sausage, egg, bacon, avocado, Wapping Sourdough toast and cherry tomato – is absolutely glorious
You’ll find Vagabond coffee, Daily Fish and Wapping Sourdough on the menu, all served up with glorious seasonal produce on a menu that changes daily. His popular and staple brunch dishes of Crispy Potato with kimchi and black pudding (amazing), Cloud Egg with crispy kale, avocado and chorizo (yet to try), and Supergreen Fritatta with kale, edamame, chilli, avocado and fig chutney (light and lovely), however, are safe staples, so fret not.
Even the Dokke Breakfast – which masquerades as sort of run-of-the-mill fry up with sausage, egg, bacon, avocado, Wapping Sourdough toast and cherry tomato – is absolutely glorious. Right up there with the most Instagrammable dishes, for sure. Exhibit A:
The most beautiful “#fryup” ever #Alfresco #brunch at the beautiful new @dokke_london at @stkatsdocks ☀️ . . . #SummerinLondon #eggs #sourdough #bacon #avocado #sausage #allthegoodthings #breakfast #Dokke #StKatharinesDock #loveLondon #liveloveLondon #Londonlifestyle #luxuryLondon #yachts #Iwantayacht #boatparty
We also indulged in a few snacks, like the delicate prawn, avocado and kimchee maki rolls, the KFC (Kosho fried chicken panko wings, served with shitake ketchup), and the fabulous red hot chilli burger (I opted for the not-so-hot version, because I can’t handle the heat) with cheese, chilies, lime onion jam, a mini burger and egg. If I had to eat just one thing for the rest of my life, it’d probably be that burger.
The experience was enhanced by the addition of a Sechuan Button – an entirely new experience for me. The little edible flower bud was served alongside the burger. You pop it in your mouth, pre-burger, and your entire mouth slowly starts to zing with a tingly, mouth-watering sensation that stays with you, evolving slowly, as you eat the burger, enhancing every flavour you encounter. Very Heston. Very impressive.
Because we’re rather greedy, we also sampled a few of the sharing dishes: crab charcoal risotto with Chinese black rice, samphire and cucumber; salt-baked tuna with wasabi, watermelon, jalapeno and samphire; green papaya curry with sticky rice, bok choy and jungle spice; rump of beef with Bulgogi Spices, nashi pear and egg. All might feature on my last supper list…
Dining on a sunny afternoon at Dokke really is the life. So here’s the new #LifeGoal: A penthouse duplex overlooking St Katharine Dock, a super yacht and brunching at Dokke. Can I crowdfund that?
Ivory House, East Smithfield E1W 1AT; 020 7481 3954; dokke.co.uk
PS: This brunch isn’t bottomless, but we heard it straight from the horse’s mouth… chef-patron Neil Wagner is thinking about introducing it!