Test Driving The Grand Duchess - Cornish seafood and sparkling wine at Paddington

roe2Smoked cod's roe with breakfast radishes and nigella salt (£10) - deeply smoky and delicious, this was a good start.

So what do we need to know about The Grand Duchess?

This is the second floating restaurant from the folk behind the London Shell Co (their other boat is also moored nearby between services) and seafood is definitely a focus. 

A floating restaurant - am I going to get seasick?

Unlikely. While their other boat, The Prince Regent actually heads off down the Regent's Canal for some of its services, this one is staying put on a permanent mooring. So you can get off at any time - and it's very sturdy.

Where exactly is it?

You'll find it at Paddington Central moored alongside Sheldon Square. The best way to get here is by tube as it's just a few minutes from the Hammersmith & City Line exit of Paddington Station.

diningroomWalk-in seats on the left and tables on the right - and at the back behind the wine there's a semi-private dining space.

Where could I meet for a drink first?

If you're not heading on board straight away, then the newly opened Vagabond wine bar - just a short walk away - is probably your best bet. 

What's it like on board?

It's incredibly spacious. There are glass panels in the roof and windows the length of the boat, so everyone gets a good view of the canal and if you're having a meal here on a weekend lunchtime or early evening, you can wave to the diners aboard the Prince Regent goodbye as they set off on their cruise. 

Where should I sit?

There are tables all along one side and a very nice looking semi private dining space at the end, but we loved our bar style seats by the window (usually reserved for walk-ins only) which gave you a view direct out on to the canal itself. best for the aforementioned boat-people-watching.

What's on the menu?

As with their other restaurant, there's a definite focus on Cornish seafood although it's not exclusive pescatarian. Here's what we had:

lobsterBeer battered lobster with chip shop curry sauce (£20) - every bit as good as that description makes it sound. This is definitely the must-order dish. Wonderful curry sauce too. 

turbotPepper cured turbot with cucumber, pink grapefruit and soft herbs (£14) - the pepper cure almost gives the turbot a charcuterie taste and texture.

codCornish cod with borlotti beans, artichokes and courgettes (£22) - beautifully cooked cod and at least three of your five a day to go along with it.

porkTamworth loin chop with Parloude clams, Somerset Perry and dulse (£23) - yes, pork and clams do go very well together, adding a wonderful umami to the pork. 

dessertStrawberry, apricot and mint salad with Fishers Gin & Tonic sorbet  (£8) - a super seasonal end to a lovely meal.

And to drink?

The wine list had a distinct focus on sparkling wine and we kicked off our preview dinner here with a glass of perhaps the nicest glass of English sparkling wine we'd ever had. It's their own-label house fizz and created for them by Hattingley Valley wines. If you could taste the British summer in a glass of wine, it would taste like this. Their rosé is also very drinkable. We think it's a great opportunity to be guided to trying something new. 

Overall thoughts

Wonderful seafood, some of the best fizz we've enjoyed in ages and an added bonus of top people watching with folk on boats pootling past you on the canal - what's not to like?

Hot Dinners dined as guests of the London Shell Co. All prices correct at time of publication.


More about The Grand Duchess

Where is it? Sheldon Square, Paddington, London W2 6EP. If you walk along the canal, The Grand Duchess is moored alongside Sheldon Square in the direction of Little Venice

How to book: Book online.

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @londonshellco/


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