Reflecting the extended reach of the Thames Festival (it’s a ten-day affair this year, instead of a single weekend), the riverside restaurants at Butler’s Wharf (Le Pont de La Tour, Cantina del Ponte, Blueprint Café and Butler’s Wharf Chophouse) are getting in on the act. They are offering a rare opportunity to enjoy Thames views unspoilt by light pollution – by switching off their lights completely each evening from 8.30pm.
Over the ten days, the Butler’s Wharf Blackout will host a series of themed events celebrating the history and beauty of the river. Every night a 40m banqueting table seating 140 will be laid out beside the riverbank, lit entirely by candlelight. The Blackout Banquet will serve a rotating menu of dishes from the four restaurants while a clear covering will ensure the romantic feast goes ahead whatever the weather.
Alfresco meals cost £35 for three courses including a drink on arrival and coffee. Reservations can be made via 0207 940 1833.
And there’s more: the individual restaurants are also creating their own three-course, fixed-price menus for the duration of the festival and they’ve all had fun coming up with a programme of appropriately quirky activities. At Butler’s Wharf Chophouse, there’s a Victorian feast followed by a late-night ghost-bus tour of the docks (Sep 12; £55). Blueprint Café is staging ‘Neon Noir’, a spectacular neon food fight in the area outside the restaurant (Sep 6, 9pm).
A ‘Fire and Flambé’ night at Le Pont de La Tour (Sep 11) might sound a bit naff – but add the element of darkness, or as close to it as you can hope for in central London, and we admit we’re tempted. At Cantina Del Ponte they’ve identified a solution that ensures light will be eliminated entirely: a blindfold! With sight obliterated, the ‘Love is Blind’ banquet (Sep 13; £35 for four courses) will invite diners to concentrate on the remaining senses: opera singers will provide entertainment during the meal.
Afraid of the dark? There’s no need to miss out: during the two festival weekends the outdoor table will be in situ at lunchtime too.
For more Thames Festival highlights see our feature.