Pont Plage at Le Pont de la Tour, Tower Bridge
South side of the river, Tower Bridge is dominated by the commercial enterprises of powerhouses such as the Ernst & Young and PwC offices. It’s a place of corporate hustle and bustle where the word ‘holiday’ is synonymous with retirement. And yet, what’s this? A row of blue and white striped deck chairs lining the bank off the Shad Thames? Colourful bunting, beach towels, buckets and spades, chains of dangling oyster shells?! ‘Is this a mirage?’ you may ask yourself, staring down at your pinstripe suit and leather briefcase. No, this is land ahoy on the horizon of your sea of work – this is Pont Plage.
From June till September, the folks at Le Pont de la Tour have decided that if London can’t make it to the beach, the beach will come to London. The Thames-side terrace, offering stunning views of Tower Bridge, has been transformed into a 1920s beach-inspired retreat. With outdoor heating, pillows and blankets, you can be transported to the Riviera whatever the weather.
Push the boat out, get into holiday mode and start with a glass of champers and half a doz. Colchester Rock Oysters. Move on to Salt & Pepper Squid with citrus aioli and Deep fried Soft Shell Crab – kick back and relax.
Half a roasted lobster comes with garlic butter, and is beautifully presented – dressed and ready to eat, you won’t have to surrender any dating decorum to enjoy this luxury. If craving something meatier, the steaks are locally sourced from Heron’s Farm in Essex – get the Rib-Eye with Béarnaise sauce and fill out the main with sides of pommes frites (make that two orders) and fine French beans.
For dessert, the Cheese Cake with summer berries and a quenelle of palate cleansing lime sorbet is the perfect way to finish. Enjoy with a golden, sweet Loupiac, Château de Ricaud, served in a crystal glass.
You’ve been thinking of taking the next step and going away together for a while now, but that pesky high pressure job just won’t let you go. You stare wistfully out of your office window overlooking the Thames, dreaming of sun, sand and Sex on the Beach. Plans have been pushed aside, remade and broken and it’s time to do something about it. As the scorchers start to set in – escape to Pont Plage!
This seaside date tactic is foolproof. After a celebratory glass of champagne order the first of many rounds of cocktails – the signature Pont Plage (Tanqueray Gin, Lillet White Vermouth, grapefruit liqueur and grapefruit bitters) is balanced and refreshing, and the Rosemary Negroni is perfection. As dusk falls over the Thames and Tower Bridge lights up, grab a blanket and go for one last cocktail snuggled up on the deckchairs. Work? What work?
I couldn’t possibly.
5. Hello sailor…