Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Other Financial Centre: Canary Wharf

Last week on my way back from a meeting in East London, I stopped by Canary Wharf to have lunch with Keenan at my favorite burger joint in London, Byron Burger. Since I have been remiss about writing on London neighbourhoods as of late, I thought I share a post about Canary Wharf, otherwise known as the other financial centre in London alongside the City. Headquarter to some of the world’s largest banks including HSBC and Barclays, it is said that some 100,000 people commute into Canary Wharf each day, and that would also include Keenan. If you are Facebook friends with Keenan, then you most likely have heard him complain at some point about the Jubilee Line, which always manage to have a “signal failure” or a “man on the tracks” at the most inconvenient time. Oh, the love/hate relationship with the Tube…
Alighting at the Canary Wharf underground station, I am greeted by the ticker sign of Thomas Reuters and a dozen or so gleaming modern skyscrapers, most bearing the names of major financial institutions – State Street, Citibank, Northern Trust, and the former Lehman Brothers-now Nomura-and soon to be J.P. Morgan building. Sometimes I forget that I am in London when I am in Canary Wharf as if I was transplanted to some American city. While you won’t find any elegant Victorian architecture in this corner of London, however what you will find is an underground mall (yes, underground) with all your favorite high-street retailers -- Reiss, Karen Millen, Ted Baker, LK Bennett, among others. For all the husbands and boyfriends with deep pockets looking for the perfect gift for the wife/girlfriend, take note: there is a Tiffany & Co in Chabot Place.

The dining scene in Canary Wharf has evolved significantly over the past few years. Jamie’s Italian, Roka, and Gaucho have all opened branches here. Other noteworthy restaurants in the area include the award-winning gastropub, The Gun, newcomer pan-Asian restaurant, Sri Nam, and the long awaited Obika Mozzerella Bar due to open in late November. For those looking for a more casual lunch spot, there is also your high street chains: Itsu, Nandos, Pizza Express, EAT, and Pret a Manger. If you need to stretch your legs or get a bit of fresh air, you can stroll around the Docklands or walk through Jubilee Park., or simply go window-shopping and let your credit card do the work. If you make the trek all the way out to Canary Wharf, I also highly recommend heading to Greenwich, which is just a few stops south on the DLR to visit the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory. And if you are a serious seafood lover, arrive here at the wee hours (5am to 8:30am) Tuesday to Saturday for the famous Billingates Market for some fresh supply of seafood, otherwise, avoid heading towards Canary Wharf during rush hour.  
By the way, it’s Movember month and Keenan has promised to grow a moustache to raise funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. I will be posting photos soon, but what kind of moustache will it be? Stay tuned!

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