There was a time when the more francais a restaurant was, the more of a treat it was deemed to be. Now, whilst some top restaurateurs may be bemoaning the drop in braying City types self-consciously splashing their bonus cash on the bottom end of their wine list, its good news for anyone else wanting to treat themselves to the riverside splendour of Le Pont de la Tours accomplished and very French acceil in relative peace and quiet. And its refusal to adhere to any trend other than that of classy modern French cuisine with whip-quick service erring on the right side of reverential means there still are plenty of diners who want to do that stars such as Jerry Hall and Orlando Bloom included.
Tucked away just off London Bridge, the restaurants Conran-designed interior complements its idyllic Thameside setting with the feel of an ocean liner dining room, its lively clientele reflected by the SEM caricatures of French society lining the walls. Buzzy enough to absorb a party occasion, Pont de la Tour is also anonymous enough for the most romantic of meals and the modern French gastronomy guaranteed to delight even the most sophisticated of palates.
On ELLEuks visit the green asparagus, perfectly poached hen egg, slow roast cherry tomato and truffle hollandaise entrée had a complexity that belied the menu description, and the roast cod, green asparagus (can you tell it was in season?) brown shrimp, capers and shallot plat principal was robust, flavoursome and beautifully cooked. The only slight disappointment was the Valrhona dark chocolate and cherry layered mousse dessert, with praline and vanilla Chantilly. As Black Forest Gateaux go, it wasnt bad but if proof, as they say, is in the pudding, then however French its presentation, Sara Lee has nothing to worry about.
The ELLEuk Score
Good for: Special occasion; First date; Romantic; Group dinner; Work lunch/dinner
Style of food: Modern French cuisine rooted in tradition
Prices & Other Details at Le Pont de la Tour
Address: The Butlers Wharf Building, 36d Shad Thames, London, SE1 2YE
Opening times: Mon-Fri: 12pm-2.45pm and 6pm-10.45pm; Sat: 12pm-4pm, 6pm-10.45pm; Sun: 12pm-4pm, 6pm-10pm
Average price per person for two-course meal without wine: £29.50
Set menu: Two-course lunch for £27.50, a three-course lunch for £31.50 and three-course dinner for £44.50
Price of bottle of house wine: Sommeliers chosen selection from £24
Price of glass of house wine; Sommeliers chosen selection from £7
Price of a glass of house champagne; Piper Heidsieck £12.50
Price of a bottle of house champagne: Piper Heidsieck £65
Private dining room? Yes, a private room and wine cellar, with no minimum spend or room hire as long as there's a minimum of 10 guests
Outside dining? An extensive covered terrace with a front-row view of Tower Bridge and the Thames
Bar? Yes, with non-diners welcome. There's a pianist from 5.30-7.30pm weekdays with complimentary canapés
Best table(s)? Any of the many window tables, or outside tables where you can drink in the stunning views along with your bubbly
Who goes? A well-heeled melee of City boys, ladies who lunch and discrete couples nonetheless add up to a buzzy atmosphere
Nearest tube: London Bridge - a 5-10 minute walk away