The restaurant itself is now something of a London landmark in its own right having just celebrated its 20th birthday. It was in the vanguard of the Docklands revival movement in the '90s and during that decade's recession, it was reported that Le Pont de la Tour was where Norman Lamont, then Chancellor, saw a full restaurant prompting his famous 'green shoots of recovery' statement. Not to be outdone, Tony Blair took Bill and Hilary there in 2003 along with a reported 500 Secret Service agents keeping watch.
Le Pont de la Tour comprises both a 'bar and grill' area as well as the more formal restaurant. We had decided by looking at the menu on line before arrival that we wanted the fruit de mer and on arrival at the restaurant, we find it is served in both areas. Both we observe have available tables outside, with the restaurant area distinguishable by sporting classic white table cloths, whereas the bar and grill does not. Feeling casual in the sunshine, we chose the bar and grill.
A pleasant greeting on entry, with no table booked, we were invited to wait a few minutes at the bar while our table was made ready. The barman was very friendly and looked after us well on drinks including the making of an excellent non alcoholic cocktail. The restaurant models itself on a classic French restaurant, inspired by those of Paul Bocuse. All the staff are smartly attired with the French waiter look and indeed, all of them we interacted with were actually French.
The fruits de mer is listed in the starters section of the menu but at £29.50 per person is hardly starter prices. Did we need a main to follow or would it be sufficient? Our waiter sincerely replied that that depended on how hungry we were. We hedged our bets and opted to share a burger for the 'main'. Overall, it proved a good strategy.
Mussels were meaty and the whelks cooked well, no chewiness. The crab had been broken down and presented in the shell though for personal preference, we would have preferred the claws on the platter. Overall, it was a competent fruits de mer but not a memorable one. The slightly more expensive fruits de mer from Boisdale Canary Wharf (£35 per person) comes with 6 oysters, prawns and langoustines with plenty of each that seems to justify the extra money we think. Finger bowls were brought to the table close to the end and fresh napkins provided which was a nice touch not always considered. The wait staff seemed a little overstretched, possibly they were a man down, but they genuinely seemed to want to deliver good service.
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