Have you had that experience, where you go to a restaurant with a great view over a beautiful square, a river or the sea – yes, the view is amazing, but then the food arrives and it’s frankly underwhelming? It’s happened to me several times in some of the world’s famous tourist spots. So often it’s the small places in the back streets, unknown to the tourists but frequented by the locals, where you can find the greatest cooking and the best value. However, Le Pont de la Tour, on the banks of the Thames by Tower Bridge disproves that ‘rule’; it’s always been one of my favourite South London restaurants and I went there recently to meet a friend for lunch.
Now you might be thinking – yes, it’s got a great reputation but it’s also very expensive. Well it’s true that the a la Carte menu is something you’d generally choose if it were a special occasion or the firm were paying, but at SLB we’re always on the lookout for value for money and I’d seen that the Menu du Jour offered two courses for £25 and three for £30, so I thought it would be worth trying. This menu is available at lunchtimes Monday through Saturday (slightly different on Sunday) and in the evenings outside of the 7-9pm slot and offers a choice of three dishes in each course, which change progressively over a two-week period.
So with our window table offering a great views over the river and bridge, we tucked in to our starters. We both chose the white bean velouté with slow cooked hen’s egg in hazelnut crumb. The velouté, a soup made from a classic French recipe, was poured onto our plate at the table and as we broke into our eggs, the yolk ran bright and yellow into the soup – it looked good and tasted even better. It was a refined and thoroughly delicious starter, and one that required a high level of culinary skill.
Again choosing the same dish for mains, we had the duo of pork, a cheek braised in cider on a bed of creamed cabbage and bacon, with roasted loin on mash. The contrast of flavours, texture and appearance was notable, but there was an inherent harmony about the dish which was an absolute delight on the palate.
We managed to choose something different to finish off with my friend going for the sorbet while I had the passion fruit panna cotta with coconut ice cream, mango puree and meringue; both were absolutely delicious with mine given the full works on presentation. Wines can be expensive here but their lowest priced white is £22 and red £23, with glasses priced from £7. We both had a glass of crisp Chablis at £9.50 which was excellent quality. All in all, a fantastic lunch.
Le Pont de la Tour Menu du Jour offers fine dining at a very reasonable price. The food is excellent and the service impeccable – being in an iconic location has not dulled the passion of this restaurant and its team to reach the highest standards.