The best things are often unexpected. Making the best of a rainy Saturday evening we took the tube into London. Our destination was Bodeans at Tower Hill. This American smoke house restaurant had been recommended by one of Mab’s pals for huge piles of meat, cocktails and beer.
After a quick drink in the bar we were shown downstairs to our booth and it wasn’t long before we were tucking in to our starters. I had the buffalo wings in BBQ sauce. For £5.95 I got six wings in a smokey hickory sauce which would have been a meal in itself. Very tasty and very messy, but fortunately Bodeans provide towelettes to clean the sticky sauce from fingers (and whiskers). My main was the KC Brisket sandwich (£7.95), basically a small mountain of beef in a bun with chips and coleslaw. Even though I had difficulty fitting this I could not resist finishing off the Burnt end beef from Mab’s Soho Special (same sort of thing as the KC Brisket only with flame roasted beef).
The cocktails were pretty good too. I had a 007 Vesper (£7.45) while Mab had a Passion Cosmo (£6.95). The 007 Vesper is basically a blend of vodka and gin and Kina Lillet, (a French apertif) invented by Ian Fleming in Casino Royale and named after the novel’s doomed love interest. Bodean’s version eschews the Lillet, but still tastes pretty good. The Passion Cosmo substitutes passion fruit vodka for the standard vodka. From the beer menu I chose the Samuel Adams draft (£3.85) , a rare flavoursome exception to most American draft beers
I thoroughly enjoyed Bodeans, the food and drink were great and despite its reputation for showing sport, it was relatively unobtrusive. The music was mostly 80s American AOR, fine by me, I’d much rather hear Blue Oyster Cult‘s Burnin for You than any Simon Cowel endorsed manufactured pop anyday.
Absolutely stuffed we emerged from Bodeans and discovered that the Sun had come out, so we waddled down to the embankment by the Tower of London. As we got to the river we heard sirens sounding on Tower Bridge and witnessed pedestrians legging it over the bascules before the bridge was raised to allow the steamer Balmoral to pass through.
Despite having lived in or around London for over 50 years this was the first time I had ever seen the bridge open to let a ship through, in person and was a completely unexpected treat.
Inspired we decided to make going home an adventure and booked a ticket from Tower Pier on the Thames Clipper riverboat. It was a bit expensive at £5.40 (we got a whole 60p off the standard fare with our Oyster Cards), but much more fun than the tube. Just before maritime Greenwich we passed the Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Ocean that will be berthed in the Thames for the duration of the Olympics.
However our destination was the new cable car crossing over the Thames, the Emirates Air Line, at North Greenwich. So disembarking by the O2 it was only a short walk to Greenwich Peninsula Station.
It wasn’t too busy, so there was no queue and we could even use our Oyster Card to touch in for a discount fare (£3.20 instead of the £4.30 for cash). I always find the ascent in a cable car pretty terrifying and the Emirates Air Line rises to 300 foot above the Thames as we left the O2 Dome behind.
The crossing takes only a few minutes to cover the 1,100 metres over the river.
Apparently the cable car can ferry 2500 people over the Thames in an hour, it’s also a pretty impressive piece of engineering with some spectacular views over east London and the Thames Barrier.
For just over three quid it was a totally exhilarating trip and I think we may well be returning after the Olympics to try it again. So landing at Royal Docks we just made it to Royal Victoria Docks Docklands Light Rail Station for our journey home, before this brief window of the British summer closed and the rain started pummeling down again.