It`s all about al fresco dining at this time of year and when in London it`s all about the River.
Last Friday I was lucky enough to watch the sunset from a riverside pew at ‘Le Pont de La Tour’ – the first class Shad Thames restaurant that has stunning views across the Thames and down towards Tower Bridge.
Located near the design museum it came as no surprise to discover that this smart and buzzy venue is a member of the D&D family. Previously owned by Terence Conran this franchise includes the equally sophisticated Skylon, Launceston Place and Coq d’Argent. Whilst each restaurant has its own ‘USP’ the theme is consistent: old fashioned values meet great food in a contemporary setting.
Le Pont De La Tour is no exception to the rule and prides itself on being able to offer the very best in modern French cuisine and fine wine. Their head chef Lee Bennett has worked with Gordon Ramsay and keeps dishes simple, focusing on quality ingredients and stunning presentation. The menu has a particularly excellent range of seafood, crustacea, salads, grills and of course Champagne. And in a nod to its watery location it’s piece de resistance is a fabulous plateau de fruits de mer.
I arrived in time to try out their a la carte evening menu and as both my guest and I are seafood and wine lovers the Pont was catering to the perfect audience! We began the evening with a glass of champagne and a small taster of gazpacho – perfect on a warm almost Mediterranean night. We then decided to continue with fish, beginning with a Buisson of king prawns that tasted of the sea and a more elaborate house seafood specialty. This came beautifully presented on a large white dish and included rare delicacies like scallop tartar and oyster en gelee. They were almost too pretty to eat!
For mains I opted for seared red mullet that came with the exotically named aubergine caviar .The mullet was perfect – succulent and full of flavour and. My companion chose a tender poached halibut with a noilly prat veloute. Also excellent, we both agreed we would have been happy ordering either.
What’s surprising about the dishes is how filling they proved to be. As the staff make sure you’re offered a selection of bread through out the evening you probably don`t need any asides. We had decided to share some green beans and potatoes and whilst they were delicious they were perhaps not necessary.
Throughout the meal we were offered advice by their on hand sommelier. Le Pont De La Tour take its vino seriously so if you prefer to order by the glass there are experts able to help advice what to drink with each chosen dish. And it does make a difference. The Chablis that arrived with my main really set off the strong and meaty tones of the mullet. My guest particularly raved about this desert wine, a ‘Coteaux du layon’ . It’s something I normally forget about but was happy to rediscover as we tucked into a rather incredible creamy cheesecake.
The food is fantastic; the views stunning but perhaps the most impressive part of the evening were the staff: Smart, funny, attentive and ever patient. Perhaps the only downside are some of the guests, who by a Friday night mistake their hard earned city pound to be a license to shout rudely at the waiter. Not classy behaviour.
However after coffee, fine wine and a couple or brandies we left feeling content that all was right in the world. Le Pont De La Tour is on my list of top London restaurants. I will be returning this summer and I`ll be bringing my appetite with me!
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