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Lunch aboard The Grand Duchess

The Grand Duchess floating restaurant

Over the last few years, Paddington Basin has had a major revival and there are now lots of bars and restaurants along the Grand Union Canal, making it a really vibrant, buzzing place. I was walking along one day and spotted a new edition – The Grand Duchess. It looked so lovely and how novel to have a meal aboard a barge in central London? So I immediately booked lunch there for that coming Saturday.

The Grand Duchess is a floating restaurant and is part of the London Shell Company, who also own The Prince Regent (which is a cruising restaurant). It is a delightful setting with a focus on British fish, which is delivered daily.

We’ve now been twice. First it was just my husband and I and we sat at the counter so we could have a great view of the canal and all the passing boats, paddle boarders and even a family of swans! It was beautiful weather that day so there were lots of GoBoats and canoeists on the canal. It was fun to watch them.

Counter seating on The Grand Duchess
Passing swans

The menu changes daily and focuses of course on fish, although there are some meat and vegetarian dishes too. The first time we went we had a starter of charcuterie and a lovely light beetroot salad. It was so hot that day so a salad was a good choice!

Starter at the Grand Duchess
Beetroot salad starter

In terms of seating, you can sit canal-side at the counter tables, or there are bigger tables (for three or four people) on the other side of the barge. That’s where we sat the second time we went when we took our friend Emma for lunch.

Table seating on The Grand Duchess

If you’re celebrating a special occasion or there are 8 of you, you can book the Captain’s Table, which is a semi-private dining area at the bow of the barge. When we first went there was a family celebrating a birthday. The second time we went it was free so I was able to take a photo! Isn’t it lovely?

The Captain's Table

It is located behind a large wine rack, hence it being semi-private.

The semi private dining area

Unless you’re right behind the wine rack, every table offers a view of the kitchen where you can see the chefs working.

On to the food! If you’re a lover of fish then you’re in for a treat. Around 90% of the fish comes from Cornwall and is delivered daily so it’s really fresh.

When we went for lunch with Emma, I had the poached rainbow trout with samphire and lemon mayonnaise to start and it was delicious! Emma and my husband opted for burrata. They were really flexible too as the burrata was served with anchovies but my husband just wanted tomatoes and they happily accommodated his request.

Poached rainbow trout starter

For mains, Emma had the Rainbow trout with cucumber and a new potato salad. It looked gorgeous and she said it was very tasty.

Rainbow trout with new potato salad

My husband had the whole Lemon Sole with clams and a tomato sauce vierge. It looked like summer on a plate and reminded me of being in Italy, on the Amalfi coast. I had a clam and all the peas (my husband hates them) and it was delicious.

Whole lemon sole with clams

I chose the halibut with cavelo nero, aioli and crispy potatoes. The fish was cooked beautifully with a crispy skin and soft, succulent meat. The potatoes were fabulous! I really enjoyed it.

Halibut with crispy potatoes

We washed it all down with a chilled bottle of their Grand Duchess sparkling wine – yes, they have their own wine, which is produced in Hampshire! In fact, they specialise in sparkling wine. Of course there are lots of other wines on the wine list too if sparkling wine is not your thing.

We managed to find some space for dessert and Emma and I both chose the strawberry pavlova, which was served with Chantilly cream. It looked stunning and tasted lovely, however the bottom of the meringue was quite chewy so we couldn’t really eat it all.

Strawberry pavlova

All in all we had lovely meals the both times we went and we will definitely be back. It’s a lovely setting and something a bit unusual too. And after you’ve finished your lunch, you can take a stroll along the canal and visit Little Venice.

Little Venice

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Lunch aboard The Grand Duchess in Paddington

Kirsty Marrins

Reader, writer, occasional runner, travel lover.




  • Nikki Hall

    I love Paddington Basin and the surrounding areas of Little Venice. Will need to go back and try lunch here though – it looks fab!

    • Kirsty Marrins

      Me too, it’s a fab area! Especially when the weather is nice.

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