Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cantina del Ponte, London

Butlers Wharf, 36c Shad Thames,
London SE1 2YE Map

I joined Toptable a while back, and its really good. It makes booking really easy – no hanging on the telephone for hours only to be told that the day you want is fully booked – you just book online and wait for an email to tell you whether the booking is confirmed or not. In addition to that, you get told of special offers that the restaurants are doing, and some of them are really good. That, in itself, is worth joining for (and why wouldn’t you anyway – it’s free) but in addition, for every meal you book and review through the website, you earn points, and when you have reached a certain amount, you can have a free meal from a list of selected restaurants.

So it was, that having gorged ourselves at enough restaurants to earn a free meal for two, my wife and I decided to have a day out in London spending the afternoon at the theatre watching Dirty Dancing and taking advantage of a free lunch on the way.

The restaurant we chose was Cantina del Ponte, which is set on the bank of the Thames, just down from Tower Bridge. As it was a rare sunny summer day, we had a table outside with a nice view of the bridge and the river.

The free meal deal was from a set menu, from which we had the choice of two courses. Of course you could decide to pay for a third course if you so wished, however as we were also planning to go out in the evening - just to finish the day off - we decided to limit ourselves to starters and mains.

To start, I had a fairly basic parmesan salad that was well presented, very fresh and crispy.

For mains, I had an aubergine and smoked cheese ravioli in a pesto sauce. The smokeyness of the cheese really came through and complemented the pesto sauce really well. The aubergine seemed to be there more for texture rather than taste. It was very good. My wife, who has very rarely found a fish dish in the UK that she likes, went for the swordfish, but didn’t enjoy it at all. To accompany it, she ordered some rosemary potatoes, of which I had a taste, and they were very nice – and perfect for mopping up the last of my basil sauce!

The service was very friendly and efficient, and the setting was lovely. We paid for coffee, the potatoes and a couple of glasses of nice wine which came to about a tenner each. Okay, so not a completely free meal, but that’s not bad for a two course lunch in London!

As for Dirty Dancing, well the less said about that the better – it really wasn’t my thing at all…

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