Mike enjoys an attractive new ‘Transatlantic Journey’ menu inside the Sea Containers Building on the Southbank. Once he finds the way in, that is.

Architecturally, I’ve always considered the London landmark of Sea Containers House to be one of the least attractive lumps on the banks of the Thames, although I see an array of colour changing LED lights have been stuck to the façade to cheer it up.

Tonight, I’m going inside for the first time and am reminded of what they say about the views of an ugly building: They are improved when you look out.

The entrance is around the back according to Google maps, through a glass façade into a hotel lobby, then tucked away around a curved feature wall shaped to resemble the hull of a large ship.

Here we finally discover a stylish restaurant bustling with patrons and staff. Although our table is not right up against the large river view windows, you still get enough of a sense of it from our standpoint to feel a bit special. 

Black framed metal partitions with reeded glass divide the areas of tables around us and in the rear, I spot a sizable private dining room in full swing.

The restaurant has just launched a ‘Transatlantic Journey’ menu and we’re here to sample a selection of it. Executive Chef Ryan Matheson and Head Chef Terence Barrow have combined Modern American and British cuisine with hints of Jamaican spices, as a nod to Matheson’s Jamaican roots. 

We begin by choosing an excellent Bergamot Negroni and a first-rate Seven Seas Old Fashioned as our welcome cocktails and settle in for a treat of a night.

The menu offers a range of flatbreads from courgette to curry goat but our taster version tonight is a massive and delicious hybrid oozing with cheese, melt in the mouth ham and fresh rocket. Thankfully, with a base thin enough not to fill you up too soon.

Pan fried squid arrives sitting on top of a generous dollop of mash – who knew? But they have really made it work with garlic and a welcome zing of spice, it’s really good. 

A cabbage side arrives. Now, this is not any old cabbage side dish, this is a grilled sweetheart cabbage so elaborately decorated with squiggles of red miso aioli and crispy shallots that it resembles a Klingon’s forehead. That may not sound palatable, but, trust me, it is delicious.

Our shared main is a whole Seabass, grilled simply and to perfection. Our waiter fillets it at our table in under a minute and plates up with lemon and parsley. Add lovely little buttered new potatoes and you can’t go wrong. 

Silence reigns as we savour. Just lovely! Other dishes are designed to be shared too, such as a whole lemon Thyme Fried Chicken and a Boston Rib of Beef.

Other new flavours available from the new menu include roasted bone marrow, with capers and garlic or English Coastal oysters and Chalk stream trout, parsnip, fennel, sea veg and fish jus. All the meat and fish are locally and sustainably sourced and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options too.

We pause before a dessert to resume chatting and to drink our Carignan, Le Rouleur, a full-bodied steady red with fruity berry aromas. Sea Containers does not have a stuffy interior at all, it’s designed by Tom Dixon with the modern yet casual aesthetic verging from ‘industrial edge’ to ‘posh canteen’, but it’s easy to enjoy the ambience – as the whole room seems to be doing.

To finish, we just have room for tasty slices of sticky caramelised pineapple with pistachio ice cream to cut through it. 

It’s great. In fact, all the food has been of a very good standard. Seeking a Thames walk after our night out, we head to the rear to leave, but then notice an exit directly onto the river – always nice to graduate from the tradesman’s to the front door.

20 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PD

Phone: 020 3747 1063

Reservation: seacontainerslondon.com