If you haven’t eaten in a D&D restaurant before, you’ll certainly have heard of them: from Chelsea favourite The Bluebird to Soho jazz den Floridita, they’re behind a whole host of London’s most popular places to eat. They’ve forged a reputation for elegant, refined dining and Le Pont de La Tour – one of the original Conran restaurants bought out by Des Gunewardena and David Loewi in 2006 – won’t disappoint.
Creating a restaurant with staying power in London’s fickle market is quite a challenge, but this stalwart of the scene has been around for over twenty years. Offering picture-perfect views of Tower Bridge, the converted warehouse still feels contemporary and makes the most of its vista with tables up against the windows and an outdoor patio for summer dining – when it really comes into its own. Don’t expect the bare industrial look though, as once you’ve passed through the simpler, less expensive bar and grill the softly-lit restaurant is all thick carpet, white tablecloths and gleaming mirrors.
Admittedly the prices and formality draw in a pretty smart thirties-and-up crowd, but it's a comfortable mix of couples, City-types and small groups. As you’d expect, service is seamless and very attentive. It’s sophisticated but not stuffy, formal but still modern.
As befits the atmospheric waterfront site, seafood is especially good here and there’s an extensive range on offer, ranging from oysters and scallops to caviar. The scallops, served in the shell, are succulent and sweet, balanced by a light ginger beurre blanc, while the salty Dorset crab tian somehow manages to concentrate all the flavours of the British seaside into a few delicately presented mouthfuls.
Moving onto the mains, the menu is heavy on classics like lobster thermidor and chateaubriand, with an unusual twist here and there. Other dishes – including a sumptuously rich rack of lamb and flaky confit cod with a subtle parsley sauce, tiny slivers of olive and candied lemon – show great attention to detail, but don’t wow as much as the starters.
The desserts are the real show-stoppers. An inventive honey tart with sharp lemon sorbet and a tiny scoop of goats’ cheese works brilliantly, whilst a beautifully balanced salted chocolate ganache served with blood orange pannacotta is also well worth a try. And you’ll spot crêpes suzette being flambéed in the corner.
None of the dishes are a la carte as such. Instead you can have two courses for £38.50 or three for £44.50. Beware, however, of the £5 and £20 supplements on many options which could bring an unexpected sting in the tail, though they do run regular offers.
When it comes to the wine there’s award-winning tome to peruse, including a very decent list available by the glass (£7 and upwards) which your sommelier can match to each course. The selection is fabulously extensive and you’ll find everything from twenty-year-old Bordeaux to the more recently acclaimed English sparkling wine from Nyetimber. A standout from the slightly more affordable end is the Domaine d’Escausses ‘La Vigne de l’Oublie’ (2008) – a heady, Sauvignon-Muscadelle blend with notes of tropical fruit, honey and an unexpected weight, that comes in at just under £40. And if you’re really going to push the boat out there’s a slew of exquisite desert wines, too.
The Last Word
Boasting some of the best views in the city, Le Pont de la Tour offers a little bit of timeless, old school glamour. Just be prepared to watch your budget float off down the river.