Please note: Since this review was published, this venue has been renamed Sea Containers. Time Out editors, 2019.
London’s docklands were bustling with ‘On the Waterfront’ activity right up until the 1960s. Containerisation – the adoption of uniformly sized cargo that could be lifted easily from vessel to vessel – made London’s docks obsolete, as the bigger ships moved to the deeper waters of Essex and beyond. As the working docks moved out of the city, the new offices and corporations moved in. In 1977 a major new hotel project was built on the South Bank, but failed to come to fruition. The near-complete concrete edifice, perched right on the river’s bank, was acquired by a shipping company and became Sea Containers House. After the bankruptcy of Sea Containers Ltd in 2006, the edifice was in the doldrums for a while before eventual conversion back into a hotel.
Sea Containers is now the name of the hotel’s flagship restaurant. The shipping theme is carried through the Mondrian London hotel’s lobby, bars and dining area. Model freighters from its former use are still on display in cases. There’s even the illusion of a vast copper hull along one wall, a trompe l’oeil created by designer Tom Dixon’s team which has given the hotel its makeover. A model yellow submarine is suspended over the restaurant’s bar. The hotel dining room could easily be soulless were it not for an open kitchen on one side, and views of riverside joggers and strollers on the other.
The menu name-checks slightly too many trends and diverse dish styles, yet manages to render them well. A South American-style ceviche of marinated raw scallops was perfectly fresh-tasting, the seafood prettily arranged in a ring and delicately zipped up with olive oil, coriander and pepper. Simple ingredients were imaginatively used, for example in a Middle Eastern-style purée of smoky aubergine served with a minty labneh, diced dates, and garnish of white and black sesame seeds. A ‘larger dish’ (i.e. main course) of Italian-style gnocchi was flavoured with shreds of rabbit meat and a savoury stock-flavoured brown butter sauce. If none of these tempt the palates of world-weary hotel guests, there are always burgers, chopped salad or roast chicken to fall back on.
The dishes at Sea Containers make it well worth the stroll from either Tate Modern or the South Bank, especially as meals are served all day. Securing a table, however, may not always be easy. I was informed when I phoned the hotel that the all-day dining restaurant was ‘fully booked’ on the day of my intended visit. So to test my ‘Smells like BS’ theory I turned up anyway, at 5.30pm, with no reservation – and was seated immediately in a near-empty restaurant, which stayed that way for the next hour-and-a-half. Once first-month crowd-control measures are relaxed, this should become an excellent place for dining on the South Bank, where you can appreciate the fine view of what Angela Carter called ‘the single Amazon breast’ of St Paul’s Cathedral on such brazen display.
The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily and offers a Grey Goose bottomless Bloody Mary or prosecco brunch on the weekend, with menus reflecting the best locally sourced produce. A variety of small plates, sharing dishes and classic comfort food is available, as well as more formal feasting options.
Our new Riviera-inspired Summer Terrace launched in May through until the end of September. Featuring a restaurant terrace as well as a more casual dining and drinking area – the space will also include a bespoke Grey Goose Boat.
Our private dining room provides an intimate setting for up to 22 guests. Featuring bespoke gold dining tables and comfortable, leather seating as well as custom designed and atmospheric lighting, all designed by Tom Dixon.
A range of Feast Menus are available to ensure your occasion is personalised and unforgettable.
|Venue name:||Sea Containers|
20 Upper Ground
|Opening hours:||Meals served noon-midnight daily|
|Transport:||Tube/rail: Blackfriars, Waterloo or Southwark.|
|Price:||Meal for two with service: around £110|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
3.9 / 5
- 5 star:8
- 4 star:13
- 3 star:5
- 2 star:1
- 1 star:1
I was taken there for my 4th date last week. I must say, this is one impressive venue. The decor was authentic with a modern twist and really celebrated the nautical theme in a classy way. The part open kitchen gave it enough personal touch without being close. The island bar in the middle again was perfectly placed; it encourages diners to have a drink before dinner and continue on for more after dinner. The view of the Thames was just right to create a nice ambiance.
The selection of food was not extensive and it was a fusion of dishes however it covered the the different taste buds. The waitress was well informed of the dishes and gave us some pointers on the dish selection.
We had a selection of starters to share; the octopus dish was divine. It felt so fresh like they had just caught it a few minutes ago and took it off the stove right on time. The humble lamb meatball was complimented superbly with lovely hummus. Lastly but not the least for starters we had the smoked aubergine with black sesame seed, hmmmmm was simply melting in my mouth. The texture of the toasted sesame seeds just took it to another level.
For the main, we decided to share roasted pork with apple and celeriac. Again, it didn't disappoint. The meat was so tender and juicy with just the right amount of fat. The apple and celeriac complemented the dish without overpowering the pork.
We were so full and the place was crowding up we decided to take our drinks to the bar. The staff at the bar were very friendly although there were some new starters who were still getting up to speed with bar service. Maybe a bit more time and training is needed here.
Overall, I'd rate this place 9.5 out of 10, as it was hard to find fault with it.
I visited here over the weekend and had a very fun brunch.
They offered the most amazing bloody marys from this very lavish cart, and my girlfriend went for the bottomless prosecco option.
I had the Egg Sammy (which was awesome - minus the coriander) and she went for the pancakes.
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Ask for a table by the window as the view is spectacular.
Great looking restaurant with food to match. If you're looking to wow someone (Valentine's?!) then this is a damn good bet.
We stop by for a lazy late lunch, and this is an amazing restaurant, the food was great, as was the decour I really will have to comeback in the evening, its on my recommended list!
I had a meeting here a few weeks, ago, tried the food (really good), the spot overlooking the Thames on the southbank makes it a place to return, especially when you hear about a certain top floor bar....
The interior design is just fantastic - thanks to Tom Dixon and the nautical heritage of the place. I visited for breakfast and had waffles with dark chocolate and coconut cream, then explored the hotel in all its glory - more details and lots of photos of the amazing interior are on my blog: http://hyhoi.com/2014/11/mondrian-sea-containers-south-bank/
Have You Heard Of It? London bar & restaurant blogger | HYHOI.com
Awful experience. This is a real shame as the restaurant in itself is a Great venue, fantastic decor and views. The real let down was service and the staff. The service was slow and stroppy, 20 mins to get a drink once seated, and the only thing served was water. I understand new age but no sniff of any gesture of bred, nibbles or side plates. Meals are mainly sharing plates which means a long wait, 40 minutes for a main, after a starter. Service was unprofessional, ad hoc with some staff poor and others trying. I would not recommend despite the stunning location. Try the bar in the hotel, you may have more luck.