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Canary Wharf: How Roe restaurant aims to build on Fallow success

We chat to James Robson of Roe about food, drink and serving up to 2,000 customers a day

Image shows the exterior of Roe restaurant at the base of the One Park Drive tower in Wood Wharf. It has a large terrace and overlooks the waters of nearby South Dock
Roe is located at the base of One Park Drive in Canary Wharf’s Wood Wharf

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“It’s pretty simple,” said James Robson, in answer to why the trio behind runaway central London success, Fallow, have opened Roe in Canary Wharf.

“The view and the terrace at One Park Drive are stunning.    

“You don’t get many terraces like this, with the sun catching it, from about 11am until late evening.

“We wanted to put a world class restaurant in a world class building.”

James is one third of a partnership that has seen much success in recent years.

Together with chefs Will Murray and Jack Croft, he opened nose-to-tail restaurant Fallow in St James, just down from Piccadilly Circus in 2021 to much acclaim and popularity.

Building on that success, they opened Fowl, a beak-to-feet chicken shop with a similar sustainable ethos, nearby.

But Roe is a very different animal, albeit also named for a species of deer.

First of all, it’s big – about double Fallow’s size and in east London rather than the city centre.

It’s tucked back off Water Street and opens out above Harbour Quay Gardens’ Boardwalk.

There’s an open kitchen, much marble, fixtures made of rebar, golden metalwork and a 3D printed plant-based sculpture, intended to recall the structure of a coral.  

Image shows James Robson of Roe restaurant, a bearded man with blue eyes wearing a light green hoodie in front of a black and white marble background
James Robson, one of the trio behind Roe restaurant in Canary Wharf

Building big at Roe

“It’s huge, it’s a beast – it’s one of the largest independent restaurants I’m aware of,” said James, himself no stranger to east London, having been born in Bow.

“We don’t know where the journey will go yet.

“It will be a fantastic place to come.

“We’ve got about 100 team members and I expect to end up with between 200 and 300 eventually. 

“We’re aiming to cater for 400-600 customers a day, and that could end up being 1,000 to 2,000 a day.

“We’re very organic in our approach to things like that.”

Capable of anything from 250 diners to 500 depending on configuration, Roe is the result of extensive thought and planning.

“Opening Fallow was wonderful, but it was intense – it was during lockdown and it was a rush,” said James.

“We had to get it open and everyone came together to make it happen.

“With this one, we’ve had time on our hands to get even more of the details right, so I feel pretty proud sitting here right now.”

An image of the interior of Roe restaurant in Canary Wharf featuring a large sculpture that looks like a coral in white and red hues
Roe’s interior features a large 3D printed, plant-based sculpture intended to recall the structure of a coral

Interior features

The team have transformed a spare concrete box, working with 30 contractors to deliver a finished restaurant.

The installation includes around 16 metres of aeroponic and hydroponic vertical farm that is already being used to grow ingredients for dishes and cocktails.

“The way I put it is that we’ll have about 300 plants growing at any one time, and we’ll be producing about £1,000 to £1,500 worth of produce a month – although this wouldn’t last more than a week with us,” said James. 

“What it does do is engage the team, some of whom will never have grown a vegetable in their lives.

“They come to work with us and this way, they get to understand those ingredients, they see things grow, they taste them straight from the vine and that does wonders for the team.

“That comes across in the business and hopefully this comes across to the customer. For me it’s about the team engaging with nature – the customers love it too. 

“We’re currently growing padron peppers, lemon verbena, thyme, basil and strawberries.”

An image of maitake Cornish pasty with walnut ketchup, costing £9 at Roe
Maitake Cornish pasty with walnut ketchup, £9 at Roe

What’s on the menu at Roe?

Vital, of course, to Roe’s reception will be its food, which comes with a focus on sharing dishes served with a side of sustainability.

Snacks include breaded mushooms, charcuterie and oysters, while small plates feature sea bream tartare, cuttlefish fried toast and lamb ribs. These range from £4-£21 and £9-£16 respectively. 

Skewers of white cabbage, venison, octopus and rare breed pork are available with prices ranging from £9-£13. Flatbreads come with either scallops, snail vindaloo or pumpkin and cost £10-£16.

Large plates include a venison and dairy cow burger, flamed siracha mussels and a baked potato, with prices from £14-£16 and there are also steaks from £26-£36 or at £11 per 100g. 

Feasting options for two or more include seafood, a mixed grill or Jacob’s ladder ribs for £75, £52 or £42 respectively.

It’s fair to say that taking the guidance of the waiting staff on what and how much to order is advised.

Helmed by head chef Jon Bowring – who, like founders Will and Jack, used to work at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – the kitchen is a hive of activity at Roe.

An image of a nail vindaloo flatbread with mint yoghurt and coriander, costing £11 at the restaurant
A snail vindaloo flatbread with mint yoghurt and coriander, £11 at Roe

Full flavour

“Flavour is a massive thing for us,” said James.

“We’re not your average restaurant – it’s very intense, quality products served by a team that is relaxed, casual and happy – not pretentious in any way.

“People can expect great food. I’d really recommend people come and try us – our menu is so diverse. 

“It might be vindaloo flatbread with snails, our amazing breaded mushrooms, a fantastic Sunday lunch or our take on Fruits de Mer, which is nothing like the traditional version.

“What you will not get here is the mundane, a light salad, just chicken or just beef – you will get flavour.

“Personally I like to order a snack, a flatbread, some skewers and our banana dessert, which is one of the best I’ve ever tried.

“For a cocktail, my favourite is the Carrot Gimlet with No. 3 Gin – which divides people. We use sand carrots for the cordial that give it a lovely flavour.”

An image of breaded mushrooms with kombu and garlic mayonnaise costing £7 at the restaurant
Breaded mushrooms with kombu and garlic mayonnaise, £7 at Roe

Drinks, design and energy

Many of the drinks at the bar feature ingredients from Roe’s vertical farm.

Its signature drinks are all priced at £12 and include a Lemon Verbena Swizzle with vodka and lime and an Apple Sour with butterfuly sorrel, Buffalo Trace, green apple and egg white.

While food, drink and interior design all contribute to success in the restaurant industry, James said the sum of those parts was the important equation to consider. 

“A world-class restaurant is a combination of things,” he said.

“If we can be so bold – and we’re not there yet – it’s design and it’s people.

“There’s the team and the customers. It’s food and drink too. All those things together lead to energy, positivity and happiness.

“I’ve seen places that just have amazing service or just have amazing food or just have amazing design fail – but I’ve never seen a restaurant with that good energy go bust.

An image of cuttlefish fried toast with pork skin, sesame and chilli jam at Roe, costing £11
Cuttlefish fried toast with pork skin, sesame and chilli jam, £11 at Roe

“We’re here to give people a great experience and we’ll do all we can to do this in a timely manner.

“If you want to get in and out really quickly, we may not be the one for you.

“We work on atmosphere, on focus and on flavour.

“A lot of business is done at restaurants nowadays, so I would say we’re the place for a long lunch.”

Raring to go

“We’ve engaged with the neighbours a lot, which has been nice and they’ve been supportive and come back,” said James

“It feels like the start of the journey now.

“I don’t call this Canary Wharf, I call it Wood Wharf, east London.

“There’s a certain demographic that only know the estate for its tall financial towers, but the way it is now is that there are more £1,000 trainers and £200 T-shirts here than there are suits.

An image of the vertical farm at Roe in Canary Wharf with plants growing up a lit wall surrounded by rebar
Roe features a vertical farm, allowing staff to grow produce in the restaurant

“It’s a wonderful environment – it’s digital lifestylers and Instagrammers – there’s a really good energy to it.

“I think that message is lost when you just say ‘Canary Wharf’.

“It’s about getting across that there are thousands of residents here – not just people working in financial services.

“I would say the demographic we’re after is about 80% non-financial.

“Our main business is our neighbours, followed by destinational foodies, which is why the Elizabeth Line and Jubilee line are fantastic for us.

“We’re not the norm for this area. We bring another level of energy, and hopefully a level of flavour and excitement here.”

An image of a large dining table at the restaurant in Canary Wharf with place settings. Large golden light fittings hang above
Roe boast many dining areas including this long, semi-private table

key details

Roe is located on the ground floor of One Park Drive at Wood Wharf.

It is currently open Monday-Saturday from noon-11pm and from 11.30am-11pm on Sundays.

The restaurant operates a £50 per head cancellation policy if a booking is cancelled within 48 hours of the reservation.

Roe is located a short walk from the eastern exit of Canary Wharf’s Jubilee line and Elizabeth Line stations.

Find out more about Roe restaurant in Canary Wharf here

Read more: How YY London is office space fit for 2024 in Canary Wharf

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- Jon Massey is co-founder and editorial director of Wharf Life and writes about a wide range of subjects in Canary Wharf, Docklands and east London - contact via
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