Under the glistening high-rise towers of Canary Wharf, with views of the River Thames, the London Marriott Hotel might not be the standout building on the historic Docklands, but its location is truly enviable.
While excellently positioned to capitalise on customers from the hundreds of international businesses that make up the Wharf, the hotel is also just minutes from The O2 Arena and Surrey Quays Shopping Centre.
But while the bedrooms are busy, having an array of hospitality options on its doorstep does mean that competition for the drinking and dining dollars is fierce.
More locally, West India Quay has become a hive of F&B, with high street restaurant and bar brands such as Burger & Lobster, Pizza Pilgrims and Rum & Sugar all taking a position waterside.
The Manhattan Grill is the hotel’s leading dining concept. Originally opened in 2012, the restaurant has clearly got staying power. There is a temptation from hotels to pull the trigger, refurb and try something new in order to boost bums on seats. But six years on, and despite the many and varied options close by, this brasserie-style eatery has carved its own piece of the market.
But this is no accident or good fortune; the Manhattan Grill has kept up with the changing culinary trends of the high street while also evolving its position as a hotel restaurant.
The first key to its success has been its locale and design.
Based at the rear of the property, the restaurant is sat on the boardwalk. With its own branded entrance, large glass windows and tempting interiors, the grill avoids the need for potential walk-in customers to navigate the oft-intimidating hotel lobby first.
“The Manhattan Grill has its own style and branding,” says Tamas Laszlo, F&B services manager at London Marriott Hotel – West India Quay. “Since it is located within a hotel, it is important to ensure that the identity of the restaurant is quite strong on its own, in order to appeal to all guests.
“It’s very important. We believe that our concept and theme help the restaurant stand out.”
The 90-cover restaurant specialises in steaks, serving cuts from around the world; from wet-aged USDA prime Black Angus from Creekstone, Kansas, to Scottish cuts from Inverurie – the birthplace of the renowned Aberdeen Angus steak.
Diners can observe the talented chefs using the traditional Montague broiler, as Manhattan Grill benefits from a chic theatre-style kitchen.
The layout is attractive to the eye, with an open kitchen at one end showing off the kitchen team and flames from the Montague, while a mezzanine offers an exclusive semi-private dining room seating up to 40 guests, boasting privacy while still allowing guests to enjoy the ambience of the restaurant.
“The steakhouse also offers a wide variety of fine wines from South Africa, Chile, Argentina and France, which can be bought by the bottle or by the glass, thanks to a hi-tech wine-preserving system (pictured),” says Laszlo.
Similar to the single-serve wine phenomenon that is Vagabonds, the bottles are preserved in Enomatic glass cases at perfect serving temperature, allowing them to be perused by customers but also sold by the glass, in turn promoting the opportunity for guests to sample different styles and interact with the in-house sommeliers,
allowing them to upsell without the customer having to commit to a whole bottle.
A large selection of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines is available by the glass, while an impressive cellar includes wines from the renowned Barons de Rothschild estates, and they can be paired with each steak.
The executive chef is Damian Trejo, originally from Mexico City, who has most recently worked for seven years at the Warsaw Marriott in Poland.
“Before moving to Europe, his first job was as a grill chef at a steakhouse in Tabasco State in Mexico, where the speciality was USDA prime beef seared to perfection on a three-metre-long charcoal grill,” says Laszlo.
While the menu changes seasonally, the core beef steak mainstays – USDA Black Angus from Creekstone, Kansas, and Scottish Aberdeen Angus (grass-fed, gold label pure-bred, dry- aged for 28 days) – are complemented by Australian Wagyu rib eye (10oz), baby back ribs, Manhattan Chuck steak burger, spatchcock chicken and fish and pasta dishes.
Arguably the centrepiece of the menu is the steak sharing platter (£35). Available for a minimum of four guests, five of the best steak cuts are included, as well as the ‘steak of the month’, complete with name tags and detailed explanation from the service team. A tasting flight of red wine is also on offer for £12.50 per person to accompany.
A monstrous 20oz t-bone is the largest portion of the Aberdeen Angus steak selection, while the rib eye (8oz or 10oz) and fillet (10oz) complete the cuts.
From the USDA selection, there is the fillet (6oz or 8oz), the New York Strip (10oz) and rib eye bone in (14oz).
The choice of toppings includes a blue cheese crust or mushroom with hollandaise, while the sauces include creamy horseradish, chimichurri, béarnaise, bourbon peppercorn, red wine and mushroom sauce. While the Manhattan Grill has created a strong brand, neutral to the hotel, it still offers the changing personal touches to the menu of an independent restaurant.
For example, there is the 125ml glass of Moët & Chandon served with an appetiser deal on the menu, or the steak of the month, which has varied from Iberico pork fillet to more uncommon beef cuts such as Flatiron, through to the current 8oz venison steak, served with broccolini, mashed potatoes and a delicious red wine jus.
Guests using the boardwalk entrance might never know that the Manhattan Grill is part of a Marriott hotel, and the strength of the concept has helped to develop a walk-in and local clientele. Boosted by those staying overnight, the
restaurant is a fine example of a restaurant within a hotel, rather than a hotel restaurant.
The G&Tea Lounge
Within the hotel, just off of the stunning atrium reception, The G&Tea Lounge does exactly what it suggests. Not only does it offer an afternoon tea service with ‘free-flowing’ champagne but it also specialises in craft gins and distinctive tonics.
“It is a great place to meet with friends and colleagues for pre-dinner or after-work drinks,” says Laszlo. “With a relaxed mood by day and a vibrant air by night, it is the ideal place for unwinding and recharging, or for an informal gathering after hours.”
The 60-cover lounge boasts an extensive collection of more than 180 types of gin, offering bespoke gin flights and even gin masterclasses every month.
“Our expert bartenders will take you on a journey through the spirit’s dramatic history before lifting the lid on how gin is made,” says Laszlo.
“Insider knowledge will also be shared on how different botanicals and infusions are helping to create the array of flavour combinations found behind the bar today.”
During the hour-long session, gin aficionados will also learn to taste and identify the unique characteristics of some of the most unusual and interesting gin brands, such as Bulldog – the London Dry Gin with multiple layers of flavour – and Hayman’s Gin with its intense bittersweet notes “A rotating menu of three gins will be sampled during each masterclass, along with a range of the bar team’s favourite botanically brewed tonics,” adds Laszlo. “Each guest will conclude their session with a gin and tonic of choice from the three samples, along with the opportunity to stay a while longer and put their new-found gin skills into action.”
While the Manhattan Grill is a great example of creating a high street-style brand within a hotel, The G&Tea Lounge offers a space that can benefit both outside guests looking for a gin or afternoon tea experience and overnight guests looking for a relaxing hotel experience.
MANHATTAN GRILL SAMPLE MENU
King prawns – chilli, tomato, garlic (£14)
Crab cake – mango salsa, lemon (£13)
Burrata – fig chutney, ciabatta (£12)
Seared scallops – carrot puree, crisp chorizo (£15)
Creekstone Kansas USDA Black Angus
Fillet 6oz or 8oz (£29/£35)
New York Strip 10oz (£30)
Rib Eye Bone In 14oz (£38)
Scottish Aberdeen Angus
T-Bone 20oz (£36)
Rib Eye 8oz or 10oz (£24/£27)
Fillet 10oz (£35)
Australian Wagyu rib eye 10oz (£32)
Baby back ribs – home-made marinade, apple slaw (£18)
Manhattan Chuck steak burger – streaky bacon, cheddar, brioche bun (£16)
Spatchcock chicken – home-made marinade, apple slaw (£18)
Linguine – wild mushroom, spinach (£13)
Seabass fillet – chive mash, tomato cucumber relish (£18)
Warm Danish pudding – salted caramel ice cream (£8.50)
Manhattan Cheesecake – red berry compote (£7)
Baked nutmeg custard – coffee macaroon (£8.50)
Quay lime pie – clotted cream (£6.50)
G&Tea Lounge Sample Menu
S.X. ON THE QUAY
Brockmans, Archers, Triple Sec, fresh lemon, lime cordial, cucumber, elderflower tonic
Slingsby Rhubarb, Lanique, fresh lime, strawberry puree, Moët and Chandon Brut Rosé
Brockmans, Chambord, peach puree, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, prosecco
Sipsmith Sloe, Cynar, Triple Sec, fruity chamomile, light tonic
THE GILTRU BORN
Gin Mare, Martell VS, Grand Marnier, fresh lemon, sugar rosemary
VII Hills gin, tomato juice, Tabasco, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, celery and olives
Aged Larios Dry and Hayman’s Sloe, lime,
champagne, passion fruit puree
Edinburgh Raspberry, Brockmans, red fruit, fresh lime, cranberry juice
WIQ CHOCO MARTINI
Home-made Larios Infusion, Edinburgh Raspberry, White Cocoa Liquor, Monbana Choco, red fruit