What: A laid-back offshoot of upmarket London restaurant Le Pont de la Tour that takes inspiration from classic bistros and brasseries and serves “regional French dishes at accessible prices”. The Tower Bridge opened in 1991 in a former 19th century tea warehouse and is known for its riverside location with views of Tower Bridge. Le Pont Bistrot has taken over the former bar area adjoining the original restaurant.
Who:Le Pont de la Tour is owned by high-end restaurant group D&D London, which is run by Des Gunewardena and operates more than 40 restaurants around the world, mostly in the capital. Le Pont Bistrot is overseen by Le Pont de la Tour executive chef Tony Fleming, who trained with Richard Neat and Marco Pierre White, before winning a Michelin star at Angler in 2012. He is in charge of the stoves at Le Pont of the Tower since 2020.
The food: Fleming’s menu offers a more streamlined approach to French cuisine compared to the elegance of Pont de la Tour. Prices are also more accessible, with starters mostly around £10 and most main courses between £15 and £25. Starters include a selection of oysters and shellfish, as well as hot Gougères with Comté cheese; mussel and saffron soup; and pig’s head terrine. The main courses, meanwhile, offer duck confit with French peas, honey and Madeira; morel omelet with fine herbs and small salad; and saddler pork belly with black pudding, white asparagus and mashed apples. There’s also a range of daily specials like rabbit parmentier on Tuesdays; pepper wing ray on Wednesdays; and Cumbrian Sirloin Roast on Sundays. Desserts include lemon pie; caramel cream; and a selection of French cheeses.
The beverage:Head sommelier Michele Orbolato has created a concise wine list of mostly French labels, starting at just £6 a glass. A range of “signature” cocktails is also available, including the French 75 with Tanqueray 43, Taittinger Brut and lemon juice; and a Sidecar with Hennessy VS, Cointreau and lemon juice.
The atmosphere: Occupying the former Pont de la Tour bar, the 32-seat dining room is polished and spacious, with a huge marble bar at the back, plenty of light throughout, and banquettes. 24 additional seats are available on the terrace overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge. A small stage at the end of the restaurant is used to host live music sessions on Wednesday and Friday evenings, with a variety of sets inspired by French jazz.
And something else: While the recent application of calorie labeling on menus in Englandled a number of groups to shake up their food offerings, D&D refused to let new legislation dictate its menu choices and give it more power. Prices at Pont Bistrot can be competitive, but the calorie counts of some of the main courses are unique. Take the rabbit shepherd’s pie with pommery mustard, tarragon and carrots, which has 1,754 calories; the duck confit with French peas honey and Madeira which is 1934 calories. And the most caloric of all? The pork belly saddled with black pudding, white asparagus and mashed apples, which is a mouth-watering 3,054 calories. For balance, there are also plenty of low-calorie options, including some under the 1,000-calorie mark like wild mushroom omelet with herbs and a small salad (294 calories); pappardelle of boletus ragout with borlotti beans, hazelnuts and marjoram (724 calories); and pepper skate wing with brown butter, brown shrimp, capers and lemon (718 calories).
36D Shad Thames, London SE1 2YE