Two years ago, a little café called Towpath caused quite a stir when it opened on an otherwise empty stretch of the canal at De Beauvoir Town. Since then though, the area has seen fervent flat-building – waterside property is an appealing prospect, and the old industrial edifices around there are being replaced at quite a rate. It’s one of these new ‘multi-use units’ that houses Waterline (hopefully actually ‘above waterline’).
It aims to offset the impersonality of a just-thrown-up space with mismatched furniture – can you buy that in boxes from shops now? Like broken biscuits? – which turns out to be a not-bad idea. Despite the high ceilings and exposed ducting, it has a cosy and not unpleasantly utilitarian feel. Big windows are ready to open out on to the bucolic waterway when temperatures allow it – this place will be heaving when it gets sunny. Through the back is a darkened function room that was showing films, and up a metal staircase is a small mezzanine. There’s a long bar with a little open kitchen at the end – Waterline’s as much restaurant as it is bar.
A not-very-pub-grub menu includes the likes of leek and wild mushroom tart, roast scallops and lamb with cranberry and star anise; a ‘duo of salads’ with orange and crayfish and gravadlax may have once existed separately but were presented mixed together in a bowl. Still tasty though. And a simple rib-eye steak and chips was good too and a generous portion.
A small but thoughtful draught selection consists of Bitburger, Meantime London Lager, Hogan’s cider, an Adnams and the demonically dark Black Isle stout from the Scottish Highlands. A mid-sized, mid-range wine list looks tailor-made for sitting next to the canal in the summer, ignoring the constant convoy of cyclists and pretending you’re somewhere more sylvan than Haggerston.