Cantina Del Ponte, Shad Thames

Cantina del Ponte
The riverside date

The Vibe

There are some restaurants that come into their own in the summer. Like the young women of this city they are catalysed by heat and light to get themselves looking more polished, more attractive, more consumable. Enter Cantina Del Ponte, a decent Italian restaurant in winter for post-work city meals, a fantastic restaurant in summer for al fresco dating. Unlike the humble trattoria that speedily improvises at the hint of sunshine, flinging a couple of round steel tables out on the pavement, Cantina builds its offering around a spacious al fresco dining area that sprawls across the scenic walkway by the Thames, deal-closing views of Tower Bridge et al. Cantina is part of the very slick D&D London restaurant brand, which counts Chelsea’s Bluebird and Southbank’s impressive Skylon under its name. With this in mind, wily daters will benefit from the slick marketing campaigns that offer menu deals, happy hours, pasta making classes and opera nights. This is a recommended post-work summer date for the St Paul’s workers or Bermondsey-residing young professionals.

The Order

It’s a tricksy one. Whilst the pasta is truly excellent- specifically the linguine al vongole- going for a lighter option seems more season appropriate. That said, we’re not all carb dodgers here so do the following. Start with the small ravioli with prawns to share, bolster it with a caprese salad and some fresh focaccia. For mains, share the veal chop milanese style, the baby squid starter and a side of green beans (the spinach is laced with garlic). Drink rosé wine by the bottle, nay bucket. Re-adjust sobriety levels with an espresso, then keep going.

The Game

This isn’t a date you had planned for weeks, it’s something you orchestrated two days before. It’s for someone you just started seeing who works nearby, or a last minute meet-up with a fellow professional you found on Lovestruck. Wear a crisp and summery outfit to the office, something that screams purity, athleticism and impeccable summer hygiene (well-aerated white shirts/blouses and accent colours). Meet outside the restaurant and guide them to the railing by the river where you can both gaze out for a moment, marvel at the view and set the tone of romance. Then turn around, introduce yourself to the maître d’ and make sure you’ve been placed outside. If you want to drag this out start with a glass of fizz before moving onto wine. Sit languidly, loosen a button or two in front of them and veto any office talk. This is the time to chat over future holiday plans and reminisce over former stays in Tuscany or the Ardèche. Then, as the booze kicks in and the sun starts to set, loose the whimsical tone and turn the flirt on, otherwise there’s a danger this could get too smultzy, too soon. Move your chair to join them and face the view. Sit in silence for a bit, let the tension build, turn and go in for the kiss. Afterwards go for a river walk, stopping and kissing at intervals, and then deposit them at London Bridge station with a bit of a crush.

The Faults

The inside does not make as effective dating.

Sex Factor

3. Sun and skylines accompanied by wine and rustic food, oh come on.


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