The bohemian glamour of 1920s Paris is the inspiration behind long-standing former tea warehouse. Woody Allen tried to conjure it in Midnight in Paris, Baz Luhrmann failed to grasp it in The Great Gatsby, and Le Pont de la Tour is devoted to creating it along the banks of the Thames. Rumour has it that Tony Blair used to take Bill Clinton here when he was in London, but he didn’t take George W Bush because he didn’t think he would get it (I might have made up the last bit).
WHERE? It’s yet another one of those restaurants down hard-to-find alleys, but this one is at least signposted along the trendy, cobbled streets of Shad Thames. Step inside and chrome fixtures, leather banquettes and starched table linen swiftly announce your arrival in the 1980s, but the views of Tower Bridge, all aglow of an evening, compensate handsomely.
WHO? Head chef Frederick Forster was a protégée of Ramsay, Blanc and Roux Jr who went on to head up The Ritz and The Boundary in Shoreditch. He’s also worked at luxury hotels in Barbados and Dubai.
ORDER THIS... If you’ve only got an hour, try the bonkers-cheap three course £20 set menu in the Bar & Grill, Still, it’s only £12 more in the restaurant., which is where you should be, let’s be honest, having the five course tasting menu instead. Since Forster joined, it seems the food is has loosened up considerably. French classics such as foie gras, steak frites and scallops still put in an admirable appearance, but now they’re accompanied by delicate pea vol au vents and kohlrabi slaw. There are no fewer than two varieties of tortellini on this supposedly French menu (the duck-stuffed one wins), and two types of herb gnocchi. It’s positively Mediterranean and far more interesting for it. Don’t be persuaded by the chocolate mousse and berry sorbet, though; it’s wincingly tart. Despite having “tart” in its name (twice), the tarte tartin is a safer bet.
BUSINESS VIBE: It’s somewhere you can go for proper lunch. Smart, leisurely affairs that have the potential to get very boozy. The main dining room has generously-spaced tables, but there’s also a private dining room in the wine cellar. Call 020 7403 8403 or visit lepontdelatour.co.uk
THE VERDICT... Much like its D&D stable mate Coq d’Argent, you don’t come to Le Pont de la Tour for cutting edge cuisine served in a jam jar. You go for classical gourmet dishes, in a polished setting with great views, and on that front, it delivers. And I don’t mean to start arguments among siblings, but the view is almost certainly better at Pont.
ONE MORE THING... Get that pointy bridge full in your face by asking for a table on the terrace. Reserved just for walk-ins, it scores highly on the Cosy Quota for its woodland fairy lights and sheepskin-draped wicker armchairs.