We try out Mini Patel’s Blueprint food
Chef patron Mini Patel is battling hard on the plate to make up for Blueprint’s tricky location
The Blueprint Cafe needs a plan. Robbed of its natural footfall with the departure of the Design Museum in 2016, it sits nearly at the end of Shad Thames’ long parade of waterfront venues all trading off the same Thames-side location.
Above the rest, its first floor location is easy to miss thanks to its unobtrusive entrance and the bombastic terraces of All Bar One and Brown’s next door.
Worse still, punters have to run the gauntlet of three restaurants also run by D&D (which operates Plateau in Canary Wharf ) – Le Pont De La Tour, Butler’s Wharf Chop House and Cantina Del Ponte – before they reach Blueprint, assuming they’re coming, as most must, from the direction of Tower Bridge.
On the Wednesday evening I attended, it wasn’t what you’d call busy.
Perhaps that’s why its fixed price menu is almost indecently good value at £19.95 for three courses.
Even allowing for the necessary side dish supplements of around £5, that’s still only a couple of quid more than the most expensive of the mains on the a la carte.
It’s also refreshingly cheap for a restaurant that offers a pleasing view of Tower Bridge and lets you see over the various pleasure craft habitually moored alongside the sea-level venues.
Better still, and what ought to be the main plank of any strategy to boost Blueprint’s fortune’s, is recently arrived chef patron Mini Patel’s food.
Readers who have a long association may dimly remember The Battery, an ill-fated, short-lived restaurant atop the lighthouse shaped building behind what was then the Four Seasons hotel, off Westferry Circus.
Hopefully, with more robust backing from D&D, this tricky to find venue with a pleasant view of the river will not suffer the same fate.
It doesn’t deserve to. From the pink candyfloss sillyness of the Fairytale Martinis my companion and I opened proceedings with to the reassuringly serious bookend of the chocolate bar with blood orange sorbet that closed it, the food was precise, whimsical and inventive.
My vegetarian main of charred cauliflower with spiced butter, aged feta, capers and almonds was a triumph of vegetarian cookery, rich in texture and tongue-pricking flavours.
Less of a blockbuster, but equally innovative in its quiet sort of way was my friend’s burger – a refined take on the patty in a bap.
But it was his soup – an iridescent green pool of Portwood Farm asparagus and garlic croutons that stole the show, even defeating my Jackson Pollockinspired spiced lamb croquettes on the presentation front.
Mini’s flavours were matched in warmth by the well-drilled yet nearly invisible front of house team, who managed to top up glasses, collect used plates and deliver dishes with minimal impact and maximum efficiency.
Located about 25 minutes from Canary Wharf via the Jubilee and Northern lines, Blueprint is a bit of a stretch for lunch.
But as an option in the evening, for a quiet summit or a romantic date with the backdrop of Tower Bridge, it’s an overlooked gem.
Just don’t get sucked in by its rivals on the way. Go to blueprintcafe.co.uk for more information
The Blueprint Cafe offers some grand views; (left) chef patron Mini Patel with two of his triumphant creations, the asparagus soup and the charred cauliflower