Matt Colk is all fired up by The Gun’s refit
Refurbished Isle of Dogs pub The Gun is quick off the draw when it comes to attracting punters, with its stylish interior and tasty menu
The Gun has managed an impressive trick shot. Pub refurbishments carry risk for regular punters and businesses alike. Should the owner mercilessly gut a treasured haunt in pursuit of profit there’s a danger of alienating faithful customers.
Do too little and old criticisms will be amplified. Fortunately Fuller’s, which bought The Gun from ETM Group two years ago, has scored a bullseye with its sensitive nips and tucks to the Isle of Dogs institution.
“Nothing much has changed physically with the building because we are limited to what we can do as it is listed, but it looks fresher, cleaner and it sparkles more,” said general manager Jean Paul Toerien.
“We have refurbished all of the rooms, they’ve received a lick of paint, a bit of love, with some fresh finishes.
“There’s new furniture on the terrace and each of the rooms is now leaning towards dining as we are a very food-led pub.
“We couldn’t really change the design much, although we have added a couple of extra covers on the terrace and in the dining room.”
The changes are subtle rather than seismic – glass-fronted cupboards replacing tired faux logs at the end of the main restaurant, for example.
“Our premium space upstairs – the River Room, which has views over the Thames to The O2 and accommodates 16 – has also been given a new look,” said Jean Paul, 40.
“It’s a little bit more stylish, contemporary and modern.
“The other two private dining rooms – the Cabin Room and the Red Room – still have the same capacity of 22.”
The closure was also a chance to update the drinks offering, delivering a bit more choice for the parched.
“We now have an Enomatic machine, which is a premium wine dispenser where guests have the opportunity to taste more expensive wines by the glass instead of purchasing a whole bottle,” he said.
“There are a couple of extra lines on the bar, so we have more ale and lager there too.
“Outside, we have our gin garden, with 32 different flavours, as well as beers and ciders out there now too.”
Much has remained the same, albeit polished, at the pub formerly frequented by Lord Horatio Nelson, who was known to dally with Lady Emma Hamilton upstairs.
But like the Admiral’s trysts, it’s behind closed doors where things have been going on.
Head chef Matt Colk said: “We have a completely new main kitchen and a new, purpose-built one outside for pastry and prep.
“It’s been a challenge with the new facilities because we have had two new members of staff as well, so we’re still fine-tuning at the minute.
“But the kitchen facilities are now 100% better than what we had before. It works really well now.”
The 30-year-old, who’s aiming to add a couple of rosettes to the one the venue has already won, has created all-new menus for the pub based around his passion for seasonal British food.
“I also like Italian and we have a bit of an American theme with the bar food and the snacks too,” he said.
“But we try to do British where we can. We do a great lunchtime offer of £29 for three courses and that’s going to be a quick turnover – we’re trying to aim for a half-hour lunch so that’s good, especially for business people.
“We are also going to have a six-course tasting menu on offer for those who book the River Room.
“My favourite thing on the menu is the Sunday roast (also available on bank holidays). I cook it medium rare and we do a cauliflower gratin instead of cauliflower cheese, which is like a dauphinois.
“We use sirloin and marinate it for about 24 hours beforehand.”
With Wood Wharf closed to pedestrians for the construction of Canary Wharf’s New District, the
pub still has a deal for Wharfers to travel there free by minicab.
“We do an offer with Carrot Cars where customers can book lunch Monday to Friday and we offer a complimentary taxi service to and from Canary Wharf – that’s definitely a reason to come to us as you don’t have to walk,” said Jean Paul.
“I would say it is great to relax at The Gun to get away from the stresses of work.
“Come sit by the river, enjoy Matt’s food.
“The service is fantastic. It is professional, but casual and this environment is very relaxing for corporates to come down.
“In the evenings, people can enjoy the sunset in the gin garden and you have the benefits of having private rooms you can book out.
“We’ll also be doing some live music out there on Sundays by the river and that’s always good.
“I think the refit has been fantastic for all of us. It has been received really well.
“From the outset we told the designers and the people who were involved that our biggest concern was the character would be changed, but that hasn’t happened and it looks really good.”
The Gun is open daily with a variety of spaces to hire including whole-venue options.
Head chef Matt Colk and general manager Jean Paul-Toerien share a joke at the newly refurbished pub
The Gun on the Isle Of Dogs offers views across the Thames plus private dining rooms, a seasonal British menu and cosy bar areas