Not many restaurants offer live music along with your meal. I can sort of see the point. The idea summons up a rather fusty image, a situation whereby you’re dipping bread into a cheese fondue whilst a husky-voiced woman in her fifties lies on top of a piano and belts out showtunes from musicals that no-one can remember. Rather than adding class, it merely introduces a feeling of desperation and a creeping sensation that no-one will emerge from this restaurant happy.
But then again, not many restaurants do live music in the same way that Boisdale’s do. Rather than rope in a covers band or a collection of coots relying on muscle memory to get them through the night, the restaurant has gathered together musicians that have snap, panache and the ability to captivate an audience rather than just be the background music to a meal. On the night I visited, the calibre of entertainment was seen in the presence of Louise Clare Marshall, a singer that Jools Holland – patron of music at the venue – reckons is one of the finest that he has ever worked with. And if it’s good if enough for the boogiemeister…
The branch of Boisdale’s at Canary Wharf is a luxurious restaurant with the interior in keeping with the Scottish legacy that underpins everything that Boisdale’s does. There’s tartan on the walls, a bar that is a library of whiskies and the presence of the best elements of Scottish cuisine (no laughing at the back) on the menu.
In a neat coincidence of circumstances, Louise Clare Marshall and her band struck up just as our starters arrived. I went for the fresh on the day langoustines that were poached with mayonnaise whilst my companion ventured for the Loch Duart salmon gravaldax. The richness of both was matched by Marshall’s stirring voice which was so dark and sugary that it’s only a distillation away from making rum.
What you hope for in any kind of music, whether it is classical, jazz or rock, is that it should be tight. Far from having any bum notes, Marshall’s band were taut whether in the slow numbers or the more up-tempo tracks.
The main course was on its way after Marshall introduced the different members of the band. I would have liked to have paid more attention to who was playing what but my attention was focused on the steak that was coming my way. I’ve been on a lucky streak of steaks lately and it was continued by a 28-day aged Aberdeenshire sirloin on the bone that was sheer pleasure in terms of the complexity of the meat. My companion’s Dover sole was immaculate with a neat delicacy that was in splendid contrast to my steak.
By the time our desserts had arrived, Marshall had already brought the night to an end in a spectacular finish. The music was thrilling, providing an atmosphere in the restaurant that it was confusing to know which was more enjoyable, the entertainment or the food.
Tel: 020 7715 5818