Review: Perkin Reveller, Tower of London

Review: Perkin Reveller, Tower of London

Settled literally underneath one of the most famous bridges in London is a little restaurant that’s usually chanced upon by eager-eyed tourists taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the city (smells are down to the street vendors selling cups of caramel peanuts and hot sugared almonds). The Perkin Reveller – we’ll get to why it’s called that in a moment – is a cute little place serving all kinds of hearty foods and sumptuous cocktails, overlooked by the river, and the imposing Tower Bridge.

We popped over to the Wharf for a quick bite on a Friday evening to check it out, and honestly, we were impressed. Becasue although you’re in the heart of tourist town (the place is literally sandwiched in between two hugely historic places of interest) the Perkin Reveller was full of locals enjoying a quick drink after work before heading back to their homes for the weekend.

Firstly, the name and another little history lesson (hey, what are we without the past?). Chaucer, who not only was a great poet, also worked for the king organising building projects on Westminster Palace and, you guessed it, the Tower of London. He spoke about the Perkin Reveller in his poem a Cook’s Tale which mysterious cuts off halfway through. An impish apprentice chef, known for trouble and mischief, he caused havoc wherever he went. Who was this chef? No one really knows. So with Chaucer working on building the wharf and writing about food, it seems fitting that this name has stuck. There are poems dotted around on the walls, but good luck reading them if you’re not a fan of calligraphy!

The restaurant is beautiful, with floor to ceiling windows giving all diners a view of the Tower to the left and the bridge to the right. As you walk in you’re given the choice of propping up the bar with a seasonal cocktail (it was Halloween when we visited, think toffee apples and pumpkin pies), sitting on the terrace right on the Tower wall, or heading straight over to the candlelit tables to choose your food.

We opted for lavender and orange cocktails to start, followed by crab toast and smoked duck with figs, with the Cornish Fish Stew for the main. Seriously, I’ve never seen a bigger bowl of clams, mussels, fish and crab in my life. It was huge! Absolutely delicious though, and full of vegetables. A proper hearty meal – and the first time I’ve ever used a crab cracking deely. Obviously I couldn’t finish it, although I was secretly leaving room for the desserts. For dessert I was swayed into trying my first ever pumpkin pie. Although it was creamy and baked well, I think I’ll leave pumpkin to our American friends over the pond.
When we spoke to the waiter, I asked how they could possibly turn a profit given the portion sizes. The stew really was enough for two people, let alone little old me! But he reassured me that all fish is bough from local markets like Billingsate. And as there are so many tourists all wanting a bit of Britishness with fish, chips and mushy peas for lunch, this means they get great deals on seafood. I thought him explaining so candidly was a great sign, and it was nice to know we were supporting local people in the area.

All in all, it was a brilliant night, and although you pay a bit more for eating next to such iconic buildings, food is reasonably priced and a steal if you’re treating someone special to a meal to remember. If you’re not in the mood to chow down on the grub, you have to make a quick stop to sample the ever-changing cocktail menu. If cocktails STILL aren’t your thing, have a warming coffee and watch the ships sail by in the warm this winter.

Perkin Reveller | The Wharf at The Tower of London, London EC3N 4AB | 020 3166 6949