Monday, 31 October 2011

Ski Chalet On Thames

Riverside Italian, Cantina Del Ponte have constructed a ski chalet for the winter months. I take a visit for Scout London.

The combination of a sunny spot overlooking the river and lots of space to sit outdoors absorbing the striking cross-Thames views has helped Cantina Del Ponte gain its reputation as one of London’s classiest Italian restaurants, and certainly the best located. Come winter, though, few are hardy enough to brace the full fall-out of the Great British Winter.

The masterminds at D&D, the restaurant group formerly owned by Terence Conranand Cantina’s parent company, certainly aren’t going to sit by and watch their most vibrant traits turn grey for months on end. If they can’t bring some South Italian sun to our shores, they can at least bring a taste of North Italy’s après-ski to our river banks, converting Cantina’s outside terrace into a wintery homage to the chalets of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy’s most glamorous ski resort.

Find time before spring comes to take a visit and sit on the sheltered terrace, which is adorned with some essential patio heaters and cosy knee warming blankets. The cotton wool cladding which has been used to give the space a snowy feel does verge on the tacky but hey, we’re not adverse to a bit of that.

Cockle-warming cocktails include a hot mojito served like mint tea (but much more alcoholic) from a teapot, mulled wine, and a dangerously drinkable white chocolate martini. Highlights of the food offerings include Bagna cauda, a classic Piedmontese dish of fresh vegetables dipped into a hot anchovy and garlic sauce; Fegatini di pollo con pane, or chicken liver pâté with toasted bread, for those of you who can’t recall Italian GCSE; a selection of Italian cured meats; utterly autumnal roasted chestnuts; and, of course, both cheese and chocolate fondues.

With all that, you’re sure to leave full and contented. And the restaurant’s usual classical Italian menu is also available. Heed our advice and go easy on the fondue, though. Else you may end up harbouring a Baby Cheesus. And knowing what London’s like in the run-up to the festive season, there’s probably no room at the Holiday Inn...

Cantina Del Ponte, 36c Shad Thames, SE1 2YE 

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