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).