With the growing number of food delivery apps disrupting the restaurant business, from Ubereats to Deliveroo and more in-between, the art of restaurant fine dining is coming under increasing pressure. This is good and bad news for the committed restaurant goer.
The good news; there are many more offers and incentives to eat in with restaurants offering special prices on set menus at certain times of the day/days of the week. The bad news; it will cause the demise of many small independent restaurants. That is bad news.
Forgetting the questionable employment ethics of these delivery apps (mentioning no names), quite why anyone would want to order take out from a quality restaurant, delicately savouring their Terrine of Fois Gras or Chateaubriand from a bashed up polystyrene container, surrounded by underpants drying on the radiator with their dog yapping for scraps beneath their knees is quite beyond me.
I am sure I do not need to press the point that fine food deserves to be served at the correct temperature with some semblance of presentation? Jostled by couriers and brought to your door in cold puree form does not a dining experience make! I’ll stop sitting on the fence..
In this brave new world of the delivery app, I am going to introduce you to the best menu du jours and special deals that are being offered at some of London’s top restaurants in an attempt to stop you from going over to the dark side. And if I can’t convince you through a reverence for food and wine or by appealing to your conscience over low pay and road traffic accidents, then perhaps the economics of the matter will convince you – many of these menus are the same price or less than ordering a Pizza Express takeout (3 courses Vs 3 courses) from Deliveroo!
Le Pont de la Tour, London – Menu du Jour – £30
Located in the rejuvenated Shad Thames in a 19c warehouse, renovated in summer 2016, the landmark London restaurant, Le Pont de la Tour, offers spectacular views over Tower Bridge which, on a late winter’s evening, with the view of the City and Westminster behind, has to be one of London’s best dining vantage points.
I’m not alone in my appreciation of the setting or the view. Le Pont de la Tour was visited by the Blairs and the Clintons in 1997 when the US President was in London welcoming Tony to power at the dawn of New Labour’s first government. Let’s not hold that against this place though.
My visit, in early March 2017, found the restaurant almost empty. I’d booked an early dinner ,6pm, accompanied by a vegetarian friend of mine. The menu du jour consists of three courses, all of which have four varied choices but just one vegetarian course. Fortunately, though limited in choice, my dining companion delighted over each course of his meal but less easily suited vegetarians may want to check the menu first.
Most menu du jours in the UK don’t include wine or water or any beverage in the price but usually do include bread. The wine prices at Le Pont de la Tour are not outlandish for a London restaurant but… London restaurant’s wine mark-ups are eye-watering on the whole, any decent bottle of wine here will set you back a minimum of £40.
Although I didn’t get to enjoy any, the restaurant does present a large range of wines by the glass; although still on the expensive side. You can console yourself somewhat on the price, the freshness will be guaranteed as the restaurant uses the Coravin system on their by the glass selection.
My first course was the vegetarian option; the cream of cauliflower soup. The soup came within 3 minutes of the waiter taking our order. A generous serving of warm, spiced and creamy cauliflower soup that was both thick and flavourful, helped along by some excellent wholegrain rolls.
The breast of free range chicken, garlic leaves and wild mushrooms was tender and cooked to perfection, the sauce had power and flavour without overwhelming the chicken. In hindsight, the potato puree side (£4.95) would have gone excellently with this as I was left with plenty of the garlic and mushroom sauce.
The dessert, lemon tart and honey comb with cream and rhubarb was a highlight, the lemon tart was not high on sugar unlike so many tarte au citron and the combination of flavours worked really well.
I’m impressed by the wine menu and the wine on show at Le Pont de la Tour. I chose a white wine, a Sancerre, the Domaine du Pre Semele from the the Loire simply because I’m on a rediscovery of Sauvignon Blanc at the moment having given it so little attention on my previous blog and during my last WEST course. The wine had good acidity, plenty of citrus notes and minerality and was perfect for drinking even without food, fresh, crisp, it really accompanied the whole meal perfectly. The wine would retail outside of a restaurant for around £15. 89 Points.
We came away having enjoyed the evening. Fast service, calming ambiance, magnificent views, food cooked and served to perfection and a good choice in wine. I would return and rate this restaurant 5/5.