The search for “The One” in Tower Bridge.
Okay, I’ll admit it. When it comes to Tower Bridge, I assumed I’d “been there, done that” – I’ve strolled the length of the river from London Bridge and ended up lost somewhere in Deptford; I’ve sat in one of the Coppa Club’s domes; and I’ve even taken a (totally shameless) selfie with the bridge in the background.
Turns out, I’d barely scratched the surface. Over the last few years this once tourist-trap has totally transformed, thanks to a collection of incredible new bars and restaurants popping up under the name of “One Tower Bridge”. The pedestrian-only streets, modern yet thoughtful architecture and those riverside views lend the perfect backdrop to lazy lunches and lively dinners.
I was invited to sample the latter, but with a twist – each course would be enjoyed at a different venue. Allowing me a first-hand peek into the wealth of food options in the development, giving me a chance to find my favourite, but most importantly allowing me to eat a LOT of great food (a keen hobby of mine).
Starters at The Ivy
The night starts how all the best ones do: with a champagne cocktail. The Ivy Tower Bridge is arguably the chain’s most stunning venue, with floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the river and Tower itself. A winter’s evening couldn’t even destroy The Ivy’s elegant vibe – with stunning interiors that more than made up for a darker view. Think: plants hanging from the ceilings, art deco floor tiles and plush leather booths, all crying out for an Instagram filter.
But enough about the location. I am here for the food, which I enjoy with my usual gusto. Delicate scallops are enjoyed with grilled chorizo, balanced on top of seasonal butternut squashed, and washed down with the Ivy’s very own champagne – blended with Courvoisier, Grand Marnier and bitters… But I have to focus. Two more courses to go, and I can’t let champagne cloud my judgement, or my search for The One.
The main event at Gunpowder
Next, we head to Gunpowder – a restaurant that’s been a long-term feature on my London bucket list. While it proves virtually impossible to get a table at their Shoreditch flagship, Gunpowder’s new Tower Bridge post is a welcome addition – the venue is much bigger (two floors!) with a cosy, home-style interior to match its understated yet delicious Indian-inspired menu.
We share a selection of small plates to get a flavour for some of Gunpowder’s best dishes: their signature aloo chat blending warming spice with a creamy, yogurt topping; a suspiciously spiky but totally delicious venison doughnut (spikes made from vermicelli, natch); and possibly the best soft shell crab I’ve ever consumed – lightly battered and delicately drizzled with an aromatic, coconutty karwari sauce. Washed down with a slightly less Indian, but still totally delicious glass of Beaujolais.
The grand finale at Tom Simmons
And so we roll a few steps to neighbouring Tom Simmons for our final course of the evening – and arguably my favourite. I summon my “dessert stomach” with eagerness and dive right into the menu, where we quickly conclude that three desserts is surely better than just one?
This restaurant is Welsh chef (and Masterchef finalist) Tom’s first in the big city, and big it looks to be. The menu offers relaxed British fayre with a polished finish – with much of the produce sourced from artisan Welsh producers.
We dig into our dessert trio with little restraint. The terrine with delicate, thin layers of apple under light puff pastry is a surprising smash hit, and the Penderyn panna cotta topped with espresso jelly and sprinklings of praline makes for the perfect light pudding. But the dark chocolate fondant is the one that steals my heart. A dig of the spoon confirms what I was hoping for: a perfect melt of oozing hot chocolate sauce that fills my plate with gluttonous goodness. A coconut ice cream and passionfruit purée gives the perfect balance to rich, dark cocoa. Pudding heaven.
My visit to the development confirmed a new truth: One Tower Bridge is The One. And it’s one to visit – more than once, actually. This collection of eight venues offers something for everyone, and each promises a polished dining experience in a totally iconic riverside setting.
They say “when a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life.” And I agree. But I’d also say that when you’re tired of One Tower Bridge, conveniently in the heart of our beautiful city, you’re probably tired of food too. I know I’ll be back for more…
One Tower Bridge, SE1 lifebyonetowerbridge.london/