Jamie Dobbin worked at celebrity haunt The Ivy before he was appointed head chef at One Canada Square, Canary Wharf. The restaurant offers a Bottomless Brunch at the weekend, offering two courses for £20 or three for £25, with unlimited selected cocktails or wine for an extra £15.
I first stepped into the restaurant about 18 months before it opened when the place was a shell, so you had to have a long-term vision for it to work. But the building is so prestigious and its clientele expect the best, so how could I refuse the job?
The Wharfers, as we call them, are very time-conscious, so the challenge is getting everything just so while managing the demanding expectations of our clientele. The key, as with anything, is communication. A lot of our customers are wealthy, but we also have people coming in here who aren’t. Our customers come from all walks of life and from all over the world. So we needed to create a really versatile place that could work as an everyday restaurant, but would also be interesting enough to be a destination restaurant. When we wrote the menu, we wanted it to have lots of choice, whether you were spending £100 or £10.
When you open the door, there’s a chorus of people having fun and enjoying the food. As a chef, that’s wonderful and very gratifying. I like it when people notice how fresh the fish is. We’re so close to Billingsgate Market that we go down there and buy the fish daily. It’s great that we have that resource so close by. The best way to show fresh fish off is to have it raw in things like ceviche and sashimi.
The blueberry pancakes are very popular, especially as we have a lot of Americans around. I think people feel more energetic in the morning, because we get a lot of business meetings and people thrashing out deals over pancakes.
You just mix the batter then put it in a hot pan. When it’s in, it’s all about timing. Remember, you cook with your eyes, ears and mouth. If it’s spitting and smelling burnt, it’s saying, “I don’t want to be in here, take me out.” Just watch it and listen to it. Once the surface starts bubbling, turn it over. It’s a simple, but enjoyable dish to make, especially on a lazy Sunday morning.
Ingredients (yields 16 pancakes, serves 4)
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 2 large eggs (beaten)
- 30g butter (melted and cooled)
- 300ml milk
- For the blueberry compote
- 250g frozen blueberries
- 80g sugar
- 50ml water
- Maple syrup
- 12 rashers of cooked streaky bacon
- Start by making the blueberry compote, place the ingredients in a saucepan and bring the boil. l Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the berries have started to pop and the mixture has thickened. Keep warm until needed.
- NB: you will probably have too much but it will keep for up to one month in a sealed container in the fridge. I particularly like the blueberry compote spread on a toasted muffin with cream cheese.
- Next, make the pancake batter by placing the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. When well mixed, add the eggs while continuing to whisk.
- Slowly add the milk, continuing to mix until well combined and you have a smooth batter the consistency of lightly whipped cream. Transfer to a jug or squeeze bottle for easy pouring.
- Heat a smooth griddle or non stick pan on the stove. When the pan is moderately hot, add a little butter and squeeze or pour a little of the batter mix into the pan. The pancakes should be about 7cm in diameter.
- When you cook the pancakes, all you need to remember is that when the upper side of the pancake is blistering and bubbling it's time to turn them over and cook the second side. This only needs about one minute.
- To assemble – cook the bacon and place the pancakes, bacon and a spoon of compote in alternate layers on four plates.
- Pour over the maple syrup and serve.