Bolly and beer as four go to dinner on the town

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Officially it was a high-level dinner date between two of the world's most powerful men and their wives. But it looked more like Bill and Hillary and Tony and Cherie whooping it up on the town.

Fellow-diners at Sir Terence Conran's Le Pont de la Tour restaurant near Tower Bridge in central London might have choked briefly on their foie gras to discover they were eating metres from the Blairs and the Clintons, but with true London style they swallowed politely and pretended they were not there.

The party arrived at 6.45pm, their huge convoy adding to the tail-end of London's rush hour traffic in surrounding streets.

Before eating, the four made light work of a complementary bottle of Bollinger 1989 -- price pounds 91.50 - as they perused the menu.

Le Pont's chef did not appear to have dreamed up any unusual dishes in honour of his celebrated customers. The only items on the "specials board" were parsley soup and plum and almond tart.

Mrs Clinton chose a mixed salad and Dover sole. Mrs Blair had foie gras and a fillet of halibut. The Presidential palate plumped for seared rare tuna and roast wild salmon. Mr Blair started with roast stuffed squid and chased it with roast leg of rabbit. The men drank beer, the women wine.

There was heavy security outside the restaurant and some tables were left empty surround- ing the Prime Minister's party.

On her way to the ladies' room, Mrs Blair stopped to chat with diners. It was all part of the cosy atmosphere, according to Joel Kissin, the managing director of Conran Restaurants, who kept a watchful eye over proceedings.

"We found out they were coming yesterday afternoon," said Mr Kissin. "The Prime Minister knows the restaurant quite well, he is a regular here and he thought it would be a lovely place to bring the Clintons.

"I understand that the President was keen to see the restaurant with the nice view over the river. There has been a lot of security ... but I don't think the other customers have minded - I think they have quite enjoyed having such high- profile guests here."

Sir Terence Conran was at the restaurant to greet the most powerful diners ever to grace its tables. The French-style restaurant was opened by Sir Terence in Butler's Wharf, redeveloped dock buildings on the south bank of the Thames in Southwark.

Less than a mile away is the new Globe Theatre, where Mrs Clinton and Mrs Blair enjoyed a performance of Shakespeare's Henry V yesterday afternoon.

And after a sumptuous meal there was only the small matter of the bill. Roughly pounds 300 by all accounts, minus the tip.

At 11pm the Clintons took off from Heathrow airport for Washington, no doubt to be immediately presented with a three-course in-flight meal.