Paddington is changing. And I’m not referring to a new outfit for the marmalade-handed little bear from Peru.
Time was the only reason you would venture to Paddington station would be for a journey down to the West Country, or a business trip to Wales. But now the area has been regenerated, and with glitzy new office blocks and a modernised canal-side business district, comes a new tide of drinking and dining destinations.
Heist Bank is the most recent addition to Paddington Basin’s social scene. Sold as a ‘playground for grown ups’ it really is just that, but with beer (there are at least 12 varieties on tap at any given time!). There are board games dotted around on shelves which line the bare brick walls, there’s a pool table and even a karaoke room downstairs. It’s kind of like the best student bar you’ve ever been to – and even better because it’s not full of students!
But don’t be thinking that the laid back vibe and edgy interior means chips and dips when it comes to eating. Oh no, the menu here is anything but basic. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many innovative dishes on the menu. There are small plates such as olive and cheese curd doughnuts (£4.50), Broad bean byessar (£5) and N’duja croquettes with sorrel mayo (£5) for those wanting to share a few dishes tapas style, or to order as a starter. My companion and I went for the byessar and the croquettes and we couldn’t have been more pleased that we did. Fresh and tangy, the former was a vegetarian delight, and the latter were oozing with flavour as they oozed out of their breadcrumb batter.
If you’re after a full meal there are large plates which can be a good lunch in themselves, or to follow a starter as a main, and a host of crazy ingredient-combination pizzas. There’s one with lamb, preserved lemon, Brockley feta and wild rocket (£10) and another topped with aubergine, nettle pesto, Rosary goats cheese and dried tomatoes (£9). But I went for the interesting option of cauliflower with four cheeses and caraway (10). Despite sounding like something left over from Sunday dinner, the pizza was excellent. The combination of flavours and textures proved just right, and not too heavy. My companion had plumped for the boneless chicken served with Essex quinoa (yep, Essex quinoa!), avocado and a green chilli aioli. You could tell the aioli was freshly made, and the quinoa was light and perfectly seasoned (£15). The venue also offers breakfast and brunch, making it a great place to stop on the way to or from meetings in the surrounding offices.
There’s an ample, if basic, wine list, and an inviting array of eight different G&T combinations as well as another eight cocktails.
The great thing about Heist Bank is that as soon as you arrive you relax. Staff are approachable but not overbearing. There’s a smile if you want one but they’re happy to just take your order and leave if you’re not in the mood for a chat. The building itself is effortlessly stylish and offers enough to keep you amused for a whole afternoon. There’s even a space for a florist to set up, something our server told us will be happening soon, so you can always grab a bunch of something beautiful to take home after enjoying your visit, and there are bikes available to hire should you wish to explore the surrounding area.
It’s still in early days, but Heist Bank has a promising future as an epicentre for socialising in the regenerated Paddington Basin. Find it at 5 North Wharf, Paddington, W2 1LA. Call 0207 723 8080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a table. See www.heistbank.com for more information.
- Next Tuesday (September 20th) Heist Bank is teaming up with beer experts from Fourpure, Wild Beer Co. and Wolfpack for a night of pizza-eating, beer tasting and discussion of what makes this go-to duo such a winning combination. Heist Bank’s delicious wood-fired pizzas will be paired with quirky craft beers from the likes of Millionaire Milk Stout and JuiceBox IPA. Tickets for this event are £15 and include pizzas slices and three beers to pair.