The Mayflower Inn versus La Lanterna

So why a historic gastropub versus a traditional Italian Trattoria.  The reason is Open House London or Open City as it is now called, an event that allows for free access to some very interesting places. We had a tour of Sands Film Studios in Rotherhithe, an amazing place that among other things provided costumes for films ranging from Little Dorrit to Pride and Prejudice.  The studios are directly opposite The Mayflower Inn, so that popular scenic pub seemed an ideal location for dinner.

The Mayflower is a great pub with a floating deck area right on the river. Great for drinks that is, it used to do good food too – maybe it still does!  However when we saw the price on the chalk board for Fish and Chips, we just could not justify it – £21.00 (see picture). So we headed up river to Shad Thames, and went to La Lanterna, which is a “real” Italian Trattoria, with genuinely friendly and hospitable Italian staff. In style this place is almost the antithesis of the modern Italian restaurants typified by Zucca and the River Cafe.

We chose a bottle of my favorite Italian white wine (Gavi de Gavi), and I ordered Antipasto misto all’italiana (mixed appetisers) at £7.20 ( this dish was for one, but could have fed four). I followed this with fish from their specials board – Halibut with Scallops and Langoustine (not cheap at £21 either, but a lot more than just fish and chips).  This dish was nicely cooked and served with a tasty citrus sauce and a side order of vegetables, it  was also a huge portion.  Way too big for me, so  the waiter kindly offered to box the piece of halibut I left for take away.

There was absolutely no room for dessert so I just had coffee.  This was followed by a complementary liqueur (we were offered a choice of Amaretto, Sambuca, Baileys or Limoncello) –  a very nice way to end the evening.

La Lanterna also has an attractive inner courtyard for eating al fresco (in the summer).

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The Table – by design!

For a late breakfast or brunch away from the crowds, I would recommend The Table.

It is perhaps not somewhere you would find in passing, as it is located a couple of streets behind Tate Modern, housed within an architects‘ head quarters. (I found it while visiting the offices as part of Open House London).  It is a casual venue with shared tables and a small outside seating area.

There is also usually a small selection of Cakes

Marks out of 10 (Visits in 2009 and 2010)

Food 6

Service (Counter and table delivery) 6

Ambience 5

The Table – upping its game!

The Table just gets better and better.  There was a real buzz during my visit today, see video :-

It was  busy when I arrived, but one of the waiters immediately spotted me and found me a space.  The service and the food based on this visit was actually better than I remember from earlier visits.   My sweetcorn fritters (which the waiter advised me would take at least 10 minutes to make) were just perfect. They were served with two lovely runny poached eggs as well – an addition that had not been part of the dish last time I ordered it.  The staff were really on the ball, a glass of tap water was provided within about a minute off asking for it, as was the bill.

The area (Southwark Street – near the Blue Fin Building) is much more lively now too, lots of restaurants and bars with outdoor seating.

Marks out of 10 (Visit in May 2011)

Food 6.8

Service 6.8

Ambience 6.3

The Table on Urbanspoon

UPDATE – October 2011

I think The Table may have peaked, as my last couple of visits have been disappointing.  Slow service and lukewarm food, perhaps it’s just getting too popular.

Marks out of 10 (Visits in September and October  2011)

Food 4.9

Service 4.8

Ambience 5.9

UPDATE – August 2013

The Table’s menu and chef has changed. The interior is slightly different as they have removed the area that used to be used to display cakes, so no longer somewhere to pop in for  just coffee and cake. It’s main focus is still breakfast and brunch type dishes, it is also now possible to make reservations.

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