I went to Pont de la Tour for a client lunch yesterday and had the most appalling service.
I know that there are a multitude of views about the various Conrans, but I think this generally serves some of the best food. Additionally, the location is great if you're based in the City but want to quickly feel like you're out of it (the City, not life).
Anyway, back to yesterday. The overriding feeling I came away with was that the whole service side of things was amateurish. I arrived with one guest and we were waiting for a third. When the two of us sat down, a waiter appeared and promptly removed the setting for the third person - when we pointed out his mistake he muttered something about being told it was only for two people.
We then ordered a bottle each of sparkling and still water. Two of us were having still, one having sparkling. Now I am perfectly capable of filling up my own glass and that of my guests and I do slightly object to waiters always coming over and topping up. Especially when they repeatedly get it wrong and fill the still drinkers’ glass with fizzy and vice versa, time and again. The waiters found it amusing, I found it aggravating and embarrassing, after all this was my recommendation and I was paying.
They then got the place settings wrong, forgetting to give me a spoon with my soup. The chocolate coffee beans they serve at the end of the meal looked old and tired, as though they'd melted slightly and then had resolidified.
The problems I had with service are a shame because I think the food here is actually very good. In particular, my gazpacho was beautifully seasoned and my black truffle risotto was delicious, great flavours and perfect consistency. It is also great value for money with a two course lunch coming in just under £30 per head. Maybe this is the problem? It shouldn't be. With a full restaurant they should be making plenty of money to ensure they have the best staff, especially as most bills are topped up with bottles of wine that rarely dip below £30.
It's a shame because I think this could be a great restaurant and I believe that it used to be. But service like I got yesterday is shocking and inexcusable. Apart from having a bit of a rant on here I toyed with what I should do. I could have not paid the service charge but I didn't want to make a scene with my guests there. So I decided to phone them and let them know. Their response was "So what do you want us to about it?" Although at an attempt at redemption they did quickly add they would mention it to the manager.
In answer to their question, I want them to sort out the issues. I wasn't after a free meal, I just want the level of service to live up to the level of the food.
Pont de la Tour, Butlers Wharf, 36d Shad Thames, London, SE1 2YE, UK
Tel: 020 7403 8403
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