Fine dining on the River Thames
Between you and me, I’d always thought of those dinner cruises on the Thames as being strictly for camera-toting tourists, more interested in snapping a selfie beside the Shard than in the quality of what’s on their plate. But London has just seriously upped its floating food credentials with the arrival of Bateaux London’s fine dining cruise experience, Glass Room.
by Russell Higham
What’s on board?
A 235-cover floating restaurant with stylishly modern interior designed by Tom Dixon. Think upmarket nautical-themed bistro with low-slung table lamps and crisp white linen with good looking waiting staff buzzing about in smart uniforms. Departing from Victoria Embankment on the north side of the river, just steps from the entrance to Embankment underground station, the almost-totally glass structure allows for uninterrupted 360 degree views of London’s major sights. The cruise passes the London Eye and Houses of Parliament, up to Chelsea, back round to the Tower of London and then on to Docklands before heading home again. There’s a ninety minute lunch cruise or a longer, more leisurely three- or five-course dinner with live piano and saxaphone accompaniment from a discreet duo softly playing jazz classics.
How’s the food?
Superbly made, artistically presented British fare including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. My mid-week Premier menu dinner began with an amuse bouche of butternut squash and sage velouté followed by a starter of beetroot and root veg salad with feta cheese and kale pesto. Main course was a succulent roast chicken breast with celreiac purée and tomato salsa served with seasonal vegetables and confit rosemary potatoes. Dessert of Bateaux Mess was a highlight, the cinnamon lending a warming spiciness to a cold winter’s night. A selection of British cheeses followed, the Somerset Brie being the stand-out here. The wine list is good value for a restaurant of this calibre: I chose a first-rate bottle of Malbec for a very reasonable £31.
What you need to know…
There’s a dress code which adds to the sense of occasion — this is definitely a place for a birthday, anniversary or a special date. Glass Room can also cater for parties and will be offering a Christmas menu over the festive period. There are viewing balconies all around the boat but make sure you lay claim to a space on the rear platform for the ultimate Instagram shot as you pass right underneath Tower Bridge. Prices start from £39 for the three-course lunch but go for the Premier Dinner menu at £79 for five courses plus coffee and one of the best tables right by the window. Anywhere you sit, though, you’re guaranteed unrivalled views and an unforgettable dining experience aboard this chic river-going restaurant.