If someone were to attempt a London-set remake of Woody Allen’s Manhattan (Heaven forbid!) then Tower Bridge would surely be a firm favourite to feature as the iconic feature on the poster and backdrop for the end of the couple’s first romantic engagement. The regal bridge is without a doubt one of the most breath-taking feats of design and engineering in the capital and was the backdrop of D & D London’s Blackout Banquet, which forms a part of The Thames Festival and runs daily until the close on the 15th.
The concept IS not dinner in the dark, but rather an attempt to capture the beauty of a candlelit dinner of a bygone era when light pollution was not as rife in the capital. So from 8:30 the group heralding the scheme made up of Le Pont De La Tour, Cantina Del Ponte, Blueprint Café, turn off all their lighting, plunging the area into a state of darkness never before experienced and allowing diners a unique opportunity to savour the grandeur of the Thames and views of the river simply by candle light. Sadly the local council’s refusal to turn off the lamps and lights along the riverfront meant that it was not exactly the “blackout” as advertised. However, certainly gave me the clearest view of the London night sky I can recall from such a central location; and sat at one side of a 140-seater long banquet table opposite my dinner companion, we basked in a stunning end-of summer sunset, whist preparing for our meal.
To quench our first we were treated to a rather unique cocktail, A Swim and Tonic. Translated, this is a gin and tonic, in a plastic bag with a colourful, plastic goldfish inside. I’m not a G and T, man, but my companion was very pleased with it. Much more on my pallet-length was the espresso martini, which I had for an after dinner treat.
The starter of blackened crayfish on a bed of segmented plum tomatoes with a pesto garnish was a dish that aesthetically was worthy of its surroundings. Fresh, light and appetising, it was very much a summer dish, worthy of the warmth of an evening that was clinging desperately to the dying embers of summer. Had the crayfish been a little more seasoned, its contrast with the sweetness of the tomatoes would have created a much more palatable dish.
The main, however, satisfied any feelings of wanting that I had from the starter. A succulent, roasted slab of pork with a crunch crackling rind intact was complimented perfectly with a bold pairing of yellow plum slice and cranberry jus. Call me traditional, but despite my satisfaction with the tangy, slightly tart cranberries and juicy plum, you can’t beat apple and pork. This said, I was pleasantly surprised by the combination. Completing this was a black potato? This was a first for me and left mixed feelings. What it lacked in presentation it made up for with its nutty taste and texture, more akin to a chestnut – which is a nut that can do no wrong in my book – than the noble spud.
Finally a syllabub with berries and shortbread biscut was served after a pleasant interval which allowed the night to completely draw in and envelope the riverfront. The berries that formed a base provided a sharp sour contrast to the sweet, creamy syllabub, while the shortcake’s rich, buttery flavour and crisp texture meant a spoon was merely an option for the consumption of this divine pud’. Perhaps blackberries would have been nice to continue the theme, but that’s merely a nit-pick on a great dessert.
An ideal evening for a romantic engagement – many doe eyed couples were staring across the candles – or a group outing, as exhibited by the “merry” group who tried to initiate a Mexican wave of fashions, substituting full wine glasses for arms.
Meals at the Blackout Banquet banqueting table are priced at £35 per head for three courses including an arrival drink and coffee. Reservations can be made by visiting http://www.bwblackout.com/ or by calling 020 7940 1833.
This article was first posted on September 10, 2013