Luxury French dining on the banks of the Thames
Where? Le Pont de la Tour, Butlers Wharf, 36d Shad Thames London SE1 2YE (020 74038403)
What? Traditional French cuisine with a modern twist
What’s so special about it? The 1930s-style Parisian-chic décor frames gorgeous views of Tower Bridge and a pianist provides the soundtrack for the perfect night of old-school glamour. You can watch the boats and the world go by from your window seat and pretend you’re in a dining room on an ocean liner or a black and white film. Perfect for a first date, anniversary dinner or even just to celebrate it being a Tuesday – any excuse will do!
Does the dining measure up? The service is attentive, occasionally overly so, but the food is spectacular. The restaurant offers three courses at £31.50 for lunch and £44.50 for dinner. We were tempted by the salad of roasted globe & baby artichokes to start with, or even the dozen Maldon rock oysters. After much indecision, we settled on the Hors d’oeuvre maison: smoked salmon blini, oyster en gelée, with a crab cocktail. For the main courses, I plumped for seabass with a delicious celeriac ragout while my dinner guest had haunch of venison and glazed winter vegetables with braised white cabbage and spinach as side orders (£3.95 each). Sated, we still managed to find room pudding menu with Jivara milk chocolate mousse and morello cherry sorbet. Should you be so inclined, the cheese trolley is well worth a look with an extensive selection sourced from far and wide by the resident cheese expert.
And to drink? Award winning sommelier Nicolas Clerc looks after Le Pont de la Tour’s impressive wine offering – and he’ll look after you too if you ask nicely. The list includes some of the rarest Grand Crus alongside a selection of far more accessible wines to suit every purse.
If you’re in celebratory mood, take their advice and allow your waiter to pair your wine to your food. I ended up with a delightfully refreshing glass of Tattinger to start with followed by a Sauvignon Blanc (if I remember rightly…).
Need to know: The restaurant is open for lunch between 12pm and 3pm Monday to Saturday with dinner served from 6pm until 11pm. On Sundays, lunch is 12pm until 4pm and dinner 6pm-10pm and they offer a three course set menu with roast beef and all the trimmings for £28.50.