Mediterranean Mood Music
A slick Canary Wharf eatery, Jazzgir impresses with delicious Italian dishes and relaxed live jazz each night
Review by Martin Stickley
It’s been quite some time since I was accompanied by live music whilst I ate. I’m not just talking about hovering up giant Bratwurst or burger whilst at a festival either, I mean a proper live band whilst in a restaurant. I don’t know why, but it’s the sort of thing which I always associated with a Greek taverna whilst on holiday. Therefore it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I headed to Jazzgir, on Harbour Exchange Square – Canary Wharf, where I planned to sample the food whilst being immersed in their live jazz atmosphere.
Like a lot of the eateries around Canary Wharf, the restaurant itself is slick and classy with a rather impressive view across Millwall Inner Dock. Despite being part of the quay, it gives you the feeling that you’re dining on a moored ship but without the unpleasant movement. The interior is chic and contemporary but with a distinct flavour of 1940/50s Americana courtesy of the ribbed ceiling and walls. I noted that the serving and bar staff were also impeccably turned out, not a prerequisite to great dining in my opinion but it impressed nonetheless.
The menu at Jazzgir is Mediterranean and the dishes seem to be geared towards sharing, there is no distinction between starters and mains so you can either choose to order a number of dishes at once or structure them like a typical two to three course meal. We decided to go for the latter approach but only as the top of the menu seemed to steer towards entry dishes.
For starters I had the Veal Meatballs with parmesan and parsley whilst my partner had Tuna Carpaccio with pressed cucumber, asparagus purè, pea shot, crispy shallots and a Martini dressing. At first I rued my choice when I watched a positively mouth-watering Burrata being delivered to the table next to us but my initial concerns were soon put to rest. The meatballs were rather exquisite, the tomato and parmesan sauce they were served in the right side of tangy. The portion was definitely fit for sharing too with four meatballs each slightly larger than the size of a golf ball. The tuna Carpaccio was also very good. The fish was tasty and fresh with the asparagus purè, pea and shallots combining with the main ingredient rather than overwhelming it which can so often be the case with fresh tuna.
Next came pappardelle with rabbit ragu, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, and parmesan tuil whilst my partner was served the grilled squid with green herb purè, frisèe salad, roasted red pepper, tropea onion all’Amaretto and vinaigrette. There are occasions when a dish has looked utterly inviting only to be let down by a lack of flavour or poor combination of ingredients but thankfully this really was not one of those occasions as the squid looked and tasted divine. The pappardelle had a wonderful firm texture and the rabbit ragu positively melted in my mouth. By looking at the various other dishes being brought out to other patrons it was clear that the rest of the menu was of equal quality – it was just a shame that I could only just fit in a dessert as I dearly wanted to try some of the other recipes on offer. Fortunately the tiramisu which came recommended by the waiter was the perfect way to round off the meal. Apparently it’s made using an old family recipe, and I was surprised to find that it was quite light for a tiramisu and not at all rich.
Food aside, Jazzgir left me more than a little impressed and I found that the atmosphere of live music was one I rather took to. The band that played that night (The Brogues) were a three piece consisting of singer, double bass and piano and were of considerable talent and quality. The artists rotate regularly too with a different act every night. The attention to quality did not stop with the entertainment either. I found the serving staff both attentive and skilled with our waiter able to pair both our dishes with a fantastic wine. The cocktails from the cocktail bar were also quite delicious. All in all the quality runs right through the establishment from the fittings, to the menu to the staff leaving me a rather happy diner!
Enquiries: Jazzgir, 15 – 16 Harbour Exchange Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 9GE / 0207 0010400 / www.jazzgir.co.uk/