Sometimes being a tourist in your own city and enjoying the journey makes an evening extra special
London is a big city with an excellent underground system, which transports you quickly but you do miss the city above. When commuting most people naturally focus on the speed that they can get from A to B, rather than the journey. When I worked in Canary Wharf, one of my favourite things to do of a summer evening, would be to get the river bus along the Thames some of the way home, sitting at the back of the boat with a gin and tonic in hand.
I do not commute any more, but will still catch the river bus in at least one direction if I go to Greenwich, it makes the journey part of the day out, and gives a very different perspective on London. Last month I was delighted to be asked to dinner at The Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich, travelling there by the Thames Clipper along the river.
Travelling on the river gives such a different perspective, and you will see all sorts of new views, and hidden parts of London you may not have noticed. It has to be said it is prettier on a sunny day, but even with overcast skies I still enjoy the journey.
The first part of the journey is leisurely as you go past the Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Tate Modern, and the rebuilt Globe Theatre.
One of the things I love about London, is the mix of old and new – Wren Churches tucked between modern office buildings – with a sense of history at every turn. what is also fascinating is just how much The Thames twists and turns, and how landmarks like the London Eye and the Shard appear, vanish and then reappear from a completely different angle and perspective.
Gallery Above – City Hall, Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast, The Golden Hind, Hays Galleria.
Once past Tower Bridge the Clipper dramatically speeds up, and you swoop down the river, past the modern towers of Canary Wharf, past old warehouses and city churches towards historic Greenwich, with the Royal Navel College, the Cutty Sark and views towards Canary Wharf.
The Trafalgar Tavern is situated on the waterfront, a short 10min walk from the River bus stop, past the Royal Navel College and National Maritime Museum.
We walked past mudlarkers – searching for treasures on the Thames foreshore, with the amount of traffic that used to go up and down the river, treasures such as fragments of crockery and glass abound, as well as more occasional pieces of metal, coins and other artefacts. If you are tempted to have a go, then proceed with awareness to the tide, mud and some caution – the Port of London Authority has rules on both where and how deep you can dig.
The Trafalgar Tavern, opened in 1837 to mark Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, is situated just to the East of the Royal Navel College. It is a substantial building, the main restaurant, and function rooms have large windows and balconies to watch the river go by from, looking over to Canary Wharf. The walls are lined with naval and nautical prints, with bright coloured plush velvet chairs. It is comfortable and bright with a sense of tradition.
The food is classic bar and gastro-pub fare, all well presented and cooked. The Trafalgar is justifiably proud of their sharing platters, meat or vegetarian, (£13.50 – £15.50), generously portioned to be enough for 2 for a light meal. Being gluttons we also tucked into crispy whitebait (£7.50), a goats cheese tart (£7.50), and scallops served with cauliflower purée and pancetta (£12.50) – my favourite first course – beautifully cooked scallops and perfectly presented.
For mains I had the burger (£13), topped with a generous amount of melted cheese, served in a toasted brioche, the roasted rack of lamb (£19) was perfectly cooked to order and came with Mediterranean vegetables. If you have over indulged on the sharing platter there were lighter options, such as the chicken Caesar salad with a runny egg (£12), or a starter portion of asparagus and hollandaise (£7.50). Well executed, classic pub-grub. Vegetarians get some choice if they pick from the bar menu too, but the main offerings are the ubiquitous goat’s cheese tart, then a wild mushroom risotto.
With night falling we tried a selection of the puddings (£7), the usual hearty pub puds – with the clear winner being the chocolate fondant, with its crisp shell and molten interior.
We will be returning, by the River bus, for either a weekend brunch, or one of of their choice of Sunday roasts.
Fuss Free Flavours was a guest of The Trafalgar. All opinions our own.
The Trafalgar Tavern
Tel: 020 8858 2909
The Thames Clippers depart from Westminster, Embankment and London Eye (Waterloo) piers. I usually travel from Embankment (exit right from Embankment Underground station, cross the road and the pier will be on your left). You need river boat RB1 or RB1X. They go every 20 minutes and the journey takes about 50 minutes. A single is £7 (with Oyster card) or £8 without. Check the time of the last boat for your return (currently 22.48) but if you miss it both the underground and DLR run later. More details here.