Monday, September 29, 2008

A mediocre meal on the Thames

Cantina del Ponte
The Butlers Wharf Building
36c Shad Thames
London SE1 2YE
Tel: 020 7403 5403

Having managed to accumalate 4,000 points on the TopTable website we decided to cash them in before our trip to the National Theatre last Wednesday. The nearest restaurant that did a 'rewards menu' was Cantina Del Ponte, an Italian on the thames. The reviews were pretty good so I went ahead and booked.

We arrived a restaurant a few minutes late, but it was very quiet. Unfortunately, it wasn't really nice enough to sit outside so we were shown to a table by the window. The interior was very modern and quite swish, the waiting staff were dressed very well and I was impressed. We were given the menus and left to mull over them. I had to call the waitress back to tell us what menu we could choose from. It was the set menu at two courses for £15.95 which was the free menu.

The choices weren't very inspiring but I decided on the Octopus and Spelt Wheat salad and the Veggie chose the leek and potato soup to begin. For mains we both opted for the Potato and Truffle Gnocci with sage and butter sauce. Some nice bread and oil were brought over whilst we waited for our food.

Unfortunately, an error was made and I was presented with the wrong starter, a courgette and tomato salad rather than the seafood dish I had ordered. The waitress that I called over seemed to have no idea that Octopus was on the menu but after checking they apologised, removed the dish and brought me the correct one a few minutes later.

The Veggie thought her soup was quite nice although it contained rather more potato than leek. My Octopus salad was unusual, the slightly chewy pieces of seafood mixed with slightly chewy wheat grains. It was pleasant but nothing special.

Sadly, the main dish was rather more of a let-down... Unlike the Gnocci that the Veggie had enjoyed at a previous restaurant these dumplings were heavy and bland, not fluffy and light. There was no discernable trace of the earthy taste of truffle and a disappointing lack of sage, that most fragrant of herbs, in the sauce. Instead there was potato and butter and not much else. The Veggie couldn't finish her's as she just found it too dull to eat. I was quite hungry and ate it because of that rather than because it was tasty. Rather a shame, and even though the meal was free I still felt let down by it.

I didn't really peruse the rest of the menu, so I can't even say I would want to go back to try any other dishes. If I had forked out for the set menu it would have been very annoying indeed as it wasn't even worth £15.95. I suppose if it was a sunny day it would be nice enough to sit by the thames and have a few glasses of wine but come here for the food? No way.

Scores on the Doors: 5 out of 10

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