Nestled on the banks of the River Thames, with a commanding view of Tower Bridge, Le Pont de la Tour is a landmark restaurant that intertwines French cuisine with the dynamic backdrop of London’s skyline. This culinary destination has been at the forefront of London’s high-end dining scene since opening its doors in 1991. I was offered a job there as a Sommelier around 1996, but declined as I wasn’t ready to move to London. I am not sure if I regret this or not. I think retrospectively I would have thoroughly enjoyed my time there. 

Le Pont de la Tour is not short of its celebrity guests, including a famous dinner between then Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s, which underscored the restaurant’s status as a venue for high-profile customers. The meeting took place on May 29, 1997, shortly after Tony Blair had been elected Prime Minister

Navigating the cobblestone streets leading to the restaurant, you cannot help but be captivated by the beauty of Tower Bridge. Your anticipation builds, setting the tone for what promises to be a wonderful meal. 

Unforgivably, my colleague, friend and dining companion arrived before me, as I got delayed in the wonderful Berry Bros & Rudd in St James. Upon my arrival, she spoke of having eaten here before. Almost. Her husband was taking her for dinner, location unknown. As they approached Le Pont de la Tour, she was suitably excited, only to walk by for an evening in a restaurant of less repute close by. Her story serves as a reminder of the captivation that Le Pont de la Tour holds, set against the backdrop of one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, with the bonus of wonderful food. 

As you enter the restaurant, from the Thames side, you immediately notice the wood accents, contrasting with the white linen-dressed tables that exudes a timeless elegance. Our table was positioned by the glass frontage, allowing spectacular views of the bridge. One that I shall be standing on in a few weeks time as a volunteer marshal at the London Marathon. 

As a side note, the bridge was completed in 1894, and is a combined bascule and suspension bridge. It was designed to allow ships to pass through to the Port of London, which at the time was one of the busiest in the world. It was originally powered by steam engines, which were used to pump water into hydraulic accumulators, allowing the bascules to be raised. In 1976, the steam engines were replaced with an electro-hydraulic drive system, although the original engines are still on display as part of the Tower Bridge Exhibition.

At its core, Le Pont de la Tour celebrates the richness and diversity of French cuisine, artfully blending classic recipes with contemporary innovation. The menu is a reflection of the seasons, evolving to capture the essence of each ingredient at its peak. Last month (March 2024) they started offering a monthly changing menu that focuses on one particular region. For April it is the Loire Valley, a region I have visited numerous times, so it was a perfect opportunity to visit and see what was on offer. The menu is set, costing £80 per person, with the option of accompanying wines at £40 each. 

Globe Artichoke Salad with St Maure de Touraine Goats Cheese
This was a blend of earthy and tangy flavours.The heart of the dish, globe artichoke, worked well with the creamy St Maure de Touraine goats cheese. The Frisse lettuce and thinly sliced radishes contributed a crisp, peppery freshness, while the thinly sliced garlic croutons offered a contrasting texture with their satisfying crunch. 

Monkfish Beurre Blanc with Mussels, Cockles, Sea Vegetables, and Fennel Pollen 
This was delicious. The monkfish, known for its firm texture and mild flavour, was the perfect canvas for the flavoursome modern interpretation of a beurre blanc. I mention it being modern, in that it was thinner than you traditionally find, making the dish lighter, which in the context of a mini tasting menu is well thought out.  The mussels and cockles added to the mix, bringing with them the briny sweetness of the sea, with the sea vegetables (samphire) introduced a subtle marine note that complemented the dish’s overall flavour. The sprinkle of fennel pollen on top was a stroke of genius, offering aniseed-like undertones that elevated the dish. 

Suckling Pig Belly, Wild Mushrooms, Petite Pois, Spring Greens
This was a very comforting dish with the wild mushrooms, and their earthy tones providing a rich, umami counterpoint to the natural sweetness of the pork belly. The addition of petite pois and spring greens gave a burst of freshness to the dish, their bright flavours and colours complementing the richness of the pork. 

Mille-Feuille of Wild Strawberry Sorbet with Cointreau
This fast forwarded me a couple of months by capturing the essence of summer. The wild strawberry sorbet, with its intense, almost floral berry flavour was refreshing. Paired with the crisp layers of pastry, which add a buttery richness and textural contrast. It was perfect.

I always maintain that the front of house staff make a restaurant just as much as the food. I could argue they are more important, in that brilliant service can often make up for under par food. At Le Pont de la Tour they were brilliant. In particular, Laurence, the Sommelier really stood out. He described each wine wonderfully, giving us a real insight into them, making it a richer experience. The menu represented the Loire Valley well, and I was pleased to see the portions were of a suitable size, and not just a couple of bites each. 

Le Pont de la Tour might have been around for over 30 years, but it is its inherent quality that has allowed it to stand the test of time and survive amongst a plethora of new restaurants that constantly open around the city. If you haven’t been for a while, or not visited at all, these new regional menus offer the perfect excuse to visit. I suggest you book soon.