This darling restaurant is a testimonial to fine dining, a purveyor of exceptional hospitality and the archetype of modern French cuisine.
Nestled behind the restaurant’s own food store and wine merchant (which sadly was closed when we showed up) the modest front of the restaurant was accessible via an arched entranceway just off the cobbled streets of Butler’s Wharf.
Upon arrival I was whisked through the bar area, enjoying the chic ambience of the live piano music. With it being such a pleasant evening we chose to dine upon the terrace where we were treated to the breath-taking backdrop of Tower Bridge; it looked even more illustrious when it was lit up at dusk.
The tables were draped with immaculate white table cloths, clad with spotless silverware. Our table was located next to the hedge bordering the terrace, adjacent to a quiet promenade running alongside the Thames.
The restaurant’s clientele were predominantly middle-aged, smartly dressed corporate types- it appeared that some tables were even hosting business meetings with clients. With no vacant tables in sight, there was a bustling and vibrant atmosphere with an air of civility, and diners could converse without the need to raise their voices.
Onto the food!
The menu I am reviewing is the Johnnie Walker Menu available from 8th-21st July. For those of us who are not whiskey connoisseurs, Johnnie Walker is a fine scotch whiskey hailing from Kilmarnock in Scotland.
Not normally being a fan of salmon, I must admit that I was sceptical sampling this plate. Reservations aside, I devoured one of these small cylinders of salmon and was pleasantly surprised. The delicate flavour of the salmon; cut into generously thick slices, partnered well with the crème fraiche which filled the insides of these fishy roll-ups. The delightful potato blini hiding at the bottom of the plate was a creative and quirky addition to this tasty dish.
Alongside the starter I sipped on a refreshing Johnnie Walker cocktail with honey syrup, fresh ginger and fresh lemon juice. There was a choice selection of Johnnie Walker-themed cocktails on the menu, but with a starting price of £11.25 I think I’ll stick with a humble glass of house wine next time.
Elegantly arranged on the plate, the main looked highly appetising. The accompanying Johnnie Walker sauce infused the dish with rich aromatic flavour, setting it apart from the standard duck a l’orange on offer at other restaurants. I got stuck into the confit duck leg first; the sweet delectable meat fell right off the bone. The slices of duck breast, cooked medium rare, fell short of my expectations being particularly chewy and difficult to cut with my knife. The highlight of this dish for me was the braised puy lentils; bathing in the sweet whiskey sauce and cooked to perfection it rounded off the main course nicely. A sweet and fruity red wine was pre-selected by the chef to enjoy with the meal, to my regret I didn’t catch the name as it went down a treat!
There are no words I can say that will do justice to this culinary masterpiece. Intensely indulgent, my taste buds were overwhelmed by the plethora of rich chocolate flavours. The smooth aftertaste which followed was brought to you courtesy of Mr Johnnie Walker. The “cigar” was presented on the plate as a work of art; the metaphorical ‘cherry on top’ being the edible gold decoration. The coffee and “petit fours” which followed (two pieces of heavenly vanilla fudge with raisins and two petit chocolate cakes) brought the evening to a gratifying conclusion.
The sum total of the three courses was a modestly priced £45- a bargain considering the calibre of the establishment and the extravagant menu on offer.
I wish to commend the staff for their impeccable manners and their conscientious and doting nature. During the course of the evening, the temperature on the terrace dropped quite substantially and I began to feel quite cold. Pre-emptively a waitress offered me and several other patrons a blanket which was a most courteous gesture. The friendly staff also transferred us to another part of the terrace with a heat lamp so that we could dine in greater comfort.
All-in-all, I had a most enjoyable dining experience at La Ponte De La Tour. Although it is not a venue I would normally find myself in (my bank account would surely never forgive me) it is an enchanting place to spend an evening in. If you find yourself upon its doorstep step inside and become immersed in its opulent atmosphere, sample the delicacies it has to offer and make it an occasion in this sublime restaurant on the Thames.