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 Wharf - - Wharf - Jon Massey

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

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