Why the Water House Project is the hottest ticket in town

Lucy Halfhead
·3-min read
Photo credit: Water House Project
Photo credit: Water House Project

From Town & Country

On an unassuming corner of London’s Mare Street, overlooking the Regent’s Canal, you’ll find the Water House Project. It would be reductive to call it a restaurant; really, it’s best described as a stylish nine-course gourmet experience, designed to bring food-lovers together around two communal tables (albeit currently at a social-distance) to enjoy fine-dining without the stuffiness or hefty price tag. The Water House Project first opened as a permanent site at the start of the year, having evolved from a popular supper club set up in 2015 by the former Galvin La Chapelle chef Gabriel Waterhouse, which he ran at his own home.

Photo credit: Water House Project
Photo credit: Water House Project

The monthly menu makes the most of seasonal produce, procured from the very best British suppliers, and has clearly been curated with a great deal of care and flair. Each course is heralded with a short introduction from Gabriel that adds a charming sense of occasion. To start, we were served nibbles and a choice of aperitif – I opted for a sophisticated twist on a Negroni that was poured over an oversize ice cube and garnished with a slither of orange peel. Special mention must at this point go to the bread and butter we were served before our meal, which was unlike any other I’ve tasted before. The warm black treacle sourdough was paired with two whipped butters, including one flavoured with Marmite, and we savoured each incredible mouthful.

Photo credit: Water House Project
Photo credit: Water House Project

A great start to proceedings, the first course of girolles mousse, elderberry vinaigrette and kataifi pastry was a delight of interesting textures. Then came one of the standouts for me: St Austell muscles, artichoke puree, preserved lemon, fermented artichoke and chive oil. We greedily scooped up the juicy muscles, floating like islands in the super creamy sauce, and marvelled at the subtle blend of flavours that evoked the best summer seaside lunches. In the next two plates, we dined on traditional mainstays combined with magical sauces and accompaniments: monkfish with cauliflower and fermented apple; dill and pine nut dressing; and a venison pastille with plum chutney, aubergine and cumin puree, and harissa. I also loved the interval course of Cornish scallops with a refreshing elderflower dressing, beautifully presented in their shells; plus the palate-cleansing sweet potato and ginger sorbet, a vibrant mix that was smeared onto a large, smooth stone and designed to be licked off for a bit of fun.

Photo credit: Water House Project
Photo credit: Water House Project

Finally, a stunning combination of stilton, fig, port and walnut was served, before a pudding of parsnip and milk ice-cream, chocolate soil, oak emulsion and cocoa nib tulle. Dessert was accompanied by coffee or fresh mint tea, a selection of bitesize chocolate nougat and black treacle financiers. As well as the spectacular food, you’ll get to try six cleverly paired wines that have been provided by the natural-wine experts Ancestral, among them a delicious Brand and Fils ‘La Chimère’ from Alsace and a Churchill’s Reserve port. And what about the chic crockery on which every course is served? It’s handmade exclusively for the restaurant by the London ceramicist Jo Marland.

Photo credit: water house project
Photo credit: water house project

Overall, I highly recommend the Water House Project for a truly special evening with friends or family. Now is the time to snap up a ticket for when lockdown lifts, since it’s normally fully booked for months in advance. If you can’t wait to sample these mouth-watering delights, the good news is that the team has put together the six-course tasting-menu kit ‘WHP at Home’ that is available for home-delivery and comes with wine-pairings, how-to-plate instructions and other extras.

Photo credit: water house project
Photo credit: water house project

The Water House Project (07841 804119; www.thewaterhouseproject.com) is at 3 Mare Street, London E8.