Review of Upper Deck Restaurant and Bar, Hispaniola
The Hispaniola is an iconic ship moored on the Thames with a permanent location on the Victoria Embankment. The Upper Deck of R.S. Hispaniola has undergone a contemporary refurbishment and has been relaunched as the “Upper Deck Restaurant & Bar’.
With stunning and romantic views of London’s most famous architecture and historic buildings, Hispaniola is under new management since May 2013. Revolutionising its menus and transforming from an old Thames favourite to a serious contender on the river’s gourmet scene. James Bueno, General Manger – formerly of Café Boheme and Perritt & Perritt – and his team create seasonal menus to offer customers a range of dishes to suit all palettes.
With my best frock on and a dapper man by my side we strode onto the ship like Kate and Leo in Titantic, being greeted by immaculately dressed waiters serving up champagne – which kept flowing throughout the next hour.
As we walked through the upper deck the table were laid out like a fine dining room, the small tables made for easy conversation between tablemates, crisp white linen, polished silver and sparkling wine glasses topped off with comfortable armchair made way for a special not pretentious dining experience.
It was a perfect September evening, no rain with a light breeze. The London eye sparkled in the moonlight as did the whole riverside, as we sipped our bubbly the hordes of canapés began to be served…..
Thai crab cakes with homemade chilli sauce – the star canapé a good size crumbed cakes packed with sweet crab meat and excellently seasoned with fresh herbs. The spiced ketchup dipping sauce was equally as tasty, smooth, tangy and fruity.
Waldof salad tartlets – a take on the famous Waldorf salad these mini tarts were topped with finely diced shallots, apples and walnuts. Slightly too oniony for my taste however a delicious bite size odourve.
Croque monsieur – cute miniature ham and cheese toasties, simples! A classic French bar snack no crust toasted white bread oozing with mature cheese and a deli style ham sandwiched in between.
Confit of duck lollipops w/ spiced cherry sauce lightly breaded morsels were filled with rich delicate and tender shredded duck. The sweet dipping sauce was an elegant take on hoisin sauce, luscious ruby red with a hint of chilli.
For starters we had smoked pressed chicken, grapes, baby scallions, brandy mayo and melba toast. A filling starter however I cannot fault it, the smoky charred essence perfumed the succulent shredded chicken. I was worried about the grape and meat combination but it strangely worked in harmony. The crunch and sweetness of the grape acted as a palette cleanser for the next mouthful. The ivory coloured brandy mayo was airy with a tang smeared onto the crisp thin toast it was the best chicken toastie I’ve ever had.
The lamb was exquisitely cooked to a perfect pink medium rare, the meat was tender cut through like butter moist from its own meaty juices. The drizzle of mandarin jus was an unusual choice of gravy as its normally served with duck however the sweetness did not overpower the dish. Instead it acted as a light simple sauce for the lamb. The vegetables were fresh, seasonal and vibrant, blanched to retain colour cooked for an al dente bite. The fondant potato was creamy, rich and buttery, the perfect comfort food.
The belly of pork was a thick juicy wedge of meat, excellently tender to the touch remaining succulent from its slow cook. The truffle beurre mash was luxuriously velvety, airy and smooth, the smudge of cauliflower puree was not really needed but the abstract crackling was a modern take on the classic brittle skin. The presentation of the dish was magnificent each element balanced and colour contrasted beautifully.
Chocolate pot dessert lacked richness and decadence I desired the texture and consistency was like a thick jelly not smooth and creamy as I hoped. The mini lemon shortbreads however were superb, delicate in size and in flavour these tiny biscuits were the star of the dessert. Buttery and crumbly to perfection, could of eaten 5 more with my cuppa.
My night at the Upper Deck Restaurant and Bar was simply exceptional, gorgeous views of London on an impressive classy freshly designed space. The a la carte menu is fantastic value for money at £28 for 3 courses will be blown away with gourmet wholesome dishes perfect for the winter nights. The deck itself is ideal for private dining, small parties and social events.