I’ve wanted to open a restaurant in Canary Wharf for a while. I love the rich history of the nearby Docklands and Billingsgate Market, the diverse demographic of office goers and local residents that live and work there.
But going from an old basement brothel in Soho or a furniture factory in Shoreditch to a glass box in Canary Wharf always jarred. I’d occasionally receive calls from landlords offering us premises but it was always like trying on ill-fitting shoes. I was resigned to the fact it would probably never happen and put the idea on ice.
But the area has changed beyond recognition in the last five years and it’s now a truly unique part of London, like an adult Disneyland filled with cinemas, bars, restaurants, shops, galleries and art installations, all within walking distance of your office or home.
Now the Elizabeth Line connects east and west into Canary Wharf in the click of a finger and what was once deemed out-of-the-way and tricky to get to, a place only for office commuters, is now a brilliant place to work, live or simply visit at the weekend in the same way you might visit Soho – and it’s only set to get better.
Also worth noting is that this area that once lacked good restaurants and bars is now filled with the likes of Hawksmoor, Dishoom, Fair Game and Caravan.
So when, in the wake of the pandemic, Canary Wharf Group phoned me about a disused, standalone warehouse, that in a previous life was the police holding cells underneath the train tracks (and, yes, the train runs right over the top), my interest was piqued. One look around and memories of some of my favourite bars and restaurants underneath the bridges in NYC abounded – it was the perfect Canary Wharf home for Blacklock.
Fast forward to today and Blacklock’s leather banquettes are in, the stripped wood floor is laid and I can feel the steady, comforting rumble of the train reverberate over the top of our brand new restaurant in Frobisher’s Passage on the North Dock.
Inspired by those bars under the bridge in New York we’ve introduced our very first bar food menu at our biggest bar yet. Tucked away in our little corner of the North Dock underneath the tracks, Blacklock is a comforting sanctuary from the outside and a place where, with the blinds down and no prying eyes, afternoon lunches can roll into dinner before you know it.
I’m excited to join the burgeoning Canary Wharf community and hope we can bring something special to the landscape for those that live, work and go out here. I look back on those earlier opportunities and it seems funny to think that a place that once seemed such an unnatural fit now feels so much like home.
• To book a table go to theblacklock.com