Finally summer came and I went to the River Cafe. Hello beautiful garden setting.
So here are the outstandings--the setting. Stunning. The chocolate nemesis cake. To die for.
Here are the goods. The food. Liked the squid and the fish--very well-executed.
Here are the mehs. The service. I was expecting outstanding service. We had to hail down staff at multiple times.
The yucks. Who brings kids to a place like this? And of course they have free range to run around--not pleasant for a place of this caliber.
And the price--I am all for you get what you pay for but the price is a bit ridiculous.
Food was delicious, would have deserved 4.5 stars. I reduced to two stars because our waiter yelled at my 2-year old twin girls who were looking at a butterfly. If you want to deal with puffed up waiters with attitude who will yell at your children and then have attitude when you complain, this is the place. Won't be back.
Everything I put in my mouth at this restaurant had WOW factor.
I've eaten at several michelin star restaurants across Europe and River Cafe is by far my absolute favourite. Incredible food, fantastic service and a great vibe. The sommelier made excellent wine suggestions, too.
The quality of the ingredients is what makes the food so great. The olive oil, for example, was BRIGHT green - a vintage olive oil - the KING of olive oils, if you ask me.
We started off with the grilled calamari - the only staple on their ever-changing menu. What is so special about this dish is the freshness of the squid. I've never had such tasty squid. The herbs and chill, which I absolutely loved, are the second flavour in your mouth and not there to cover-up or soften any fishy flavours, because none exist.
We also had a delicious raw beef dish that was prepared perfectly, complimented with parmesan shavings and a touch of lemon.
For primi, we had the ricotta and spinach gnocchi... little wonderful bits of heaven in my mouth. No potato and minimal flour is what enticed me to order this dish. How do you have potato-less gnocchi? Well, they did it and it was phenomenal!
I could have honestly left the restaurant and gone home happy at this point... but we stuck around for the secondi, since we did order it :)
We ordered the veal and the angus steak. Not only were these pieces of meat cooked perfectly (They didn't even ask how we want the meat done... that's such a stupid question. Only one way to do it when it's a great piece of meat), but they were accompanied by full sides. What really stood out to me was a green salsa with the beef. Very tasty and fresh.
Finally, our dessert was pannacotta served with rhubarb. Very impressive.
I'm just amazed that I loved every single thing that they served us. It is expensive, but absolutely worth it.
I don't even have one single complaint about River Cafe... I might have said I wasn't much a fan of the blue carpet when I first walked in, but this place won me over so hard that I even now love the blue carpet. The design and ambiance work great to create a fun and exciting atmosphere without being pretentious in any way.
I LOVE RIVER CAFE.
Oh my, what a nightmare. Went here for my birthday recently, and we were really disappointed.
This was our first time here. If you're looking for good service, you will not get it. The service was horrible from start to finish. The bottle of wine came long after we started eating our appetizer (we had to summon the waiter to even order our bottle), and we paid the bill before our dishes were cleared from the table. Our waiter was so out of touch and missing half the time that he actually asked us if our mains had come when we had already finished them and were ready for dessert.
The food left a lot to be desired as well. For the price, it's simply not worth it. Don't get the artichoke starter. I had some kind of pasta, and my husband had fish. Both were bland. My husband did like his mozz/asparagus salad, however.
I give two stars -- one for for the gelato I ordered, and the other for my strawberry prosecco cocktail, which were good. Everything else was subpar.
Amazing amazing amazing place. It is beautiful on the inside, the food was well presented and tasted great. Everyone was so friendly and helpful and the service was excellent.
I can't say enough great things about this place.
The only thing i would say is that you would have to ignore the price if you want to enjoy yourself.
Difficult to find somewhere between Fulham and Hammersmith the River Cafe is located in an unlikely street full of warehouses. I did not know what to expect when walking in, and I have to admit I was amazed. It looks breathtakingly good, I have never really felt so struck with a restaurant's appearance before. After being gutted by fire last year, it was designed by one of head chef's husbands posh architect Richard Rogers. V.handy.
The restaurant is beautiful but modern, and lined by a very long bar with a serene shade of blue behind it. The length of the room somewhat reminds a ship. At the very end is a projection of a clock and an open kitchen with a blazing wood fire oven.
The staff were a great in helping to choose dishes without being too pushy, they didn't rush us and were on just the right side of friendly.
The food was of course excellent. The most unpopular dish we ordered was the risotto, which I have to admit didn't look very appetising. A few on my table were rather put off, as the presentation made it appear as if it was found on a street corner. The ravioli primi, turbot secondi and panacotta with pomegranate desert we ate were all perfect. Definitely the best pasta I've ever eaten.
This is the first restaurant I've been to in my life that offers valet car parking, and my my, the driver was so lovely that he even moved the seats forward so we could get back in the car easier on the way out.
This was definitely the cream of my birthday-related activities crop so far. The atmosphere was as rich as the food, and the evening was very special. This is a fantastic place to mark an occasion.
I imagine this is a great place for celebrity spotting, not that it's particularly cool to admit that. Mick Jagger dined here last night, with his very tall lady, and someone who looked a lot like Phillip Green. I am glad to note that it wasn't just us who couldn't resist a not so sneaky peak/gawk at his table. However I bet the staff are too c'leb hardened and unfazed to make any 'brown sugar' with your coffee gags.
Well expensive but definitely worth saving for a visit.
Haven't eaten here in years but wanted to go back for AGES. Rocked up in the car and the valet beckoned me in and took care of the parking.
Mid-week, room was bustling. We had a 9PM reservation but were ready to sit us, despite turning up half an hour early. Daily menu was composed of imaginative and well thought out dishes. Cheap River Cafe is not with starters averaging out at £14 and mains up to £35. But I went for the whole nine yards with an Agretti dish followed by a sort of ravioli in ball format and chocolate nemesis. Oh boy. Tasted as good as I remember it.
Service was in a league of its own. Waitress friendly, attentive and extremely knowledgeable on all the dishes and advising my friend who had prosciutto, blood orange and fennel to start and veal with a lemon infused risotto as her main, washed down with a dessert wine (as recommended by aforementioned waitress). As we got our coats at the front desk, the valet was already drawing our car to the front door.
Five out of five, surely for a great fine dining experience. Rose Gray would have been proud of how the River Cafe continues to stand the test of time.
Though this restaurant is not really located in the "heart" of London, about 25 pounds- cab ride away from Bond Street Station (tube); I had the best meal here during my stay in London.
The restaurant setup is cool! There is a bar/barista/cold food prep stations that runs along the side of the wall. The servers just go right up to the stations and retrieve the food + deliver it to your table. The restaurant is bright, pleasant and clean.
Food: Prosciutto with charentais melon-- so simple, yet so amazing! Tagliatelle con Funghi and the clam primi were delicious... The entree, veal and dover sole ( my ratatouille was better than the fish) were all very good. And, of course, panna cotta was fabulous!
Food, service, atmosphere: all 5 stars! Go try it!!!
They sell their T-shirt for 15 pounds...
The River Cafe offers excellent ffod and service, but it comes at a price.
I went here with my parents and girlfriend and we all had a lovely evening. Once we'd got over the shock of the prices we settled down and had a lovely meal. The Spanish waiter was charming, professional and knowledgable, the wine was excellent (a Promitivo from Puglia) and the food was very, very good. We all had the lamb, which was slightly overcooked, but a fantastic piece of meat. The starters and pasta were excellent too.
I'd recommend a visit here for a special occassion, but be prepared to be stung.
Ms. Chocoholic raves about the chocolate nemesis and would describe in detail, its loveliness and the pleasure that she experienced when she had it the first time. She said that we should try it where it originally came from and It didn't take much convincing after where we found ourselves heading to The River Cafe.
With the sun shining and kids and people enjoying the al fresco seating outside, you couldn't help but be in a jolly mood. Exuding an antipodean cafe vibe, we were relaxed and in a good mood.
Overall, each dish was tasty and the flavours were clean and balanced though it wasn't brilliant. For the prices charged, I would expect it to be justified by either the ingredients to be of really good quality that simplicity cooking is used to allow the natural flavours to sing through or cooking techniques and flavours were paired for something delicious. It was neither for me.
We now arrived at desserts and the infamous chocolate nemesis was ordered amongst others.
I have to say that Ms. Chocoholic's description sounded better than it tasted.
One of my favorite restaurants in London which happens to remind me of one of my favorite restaurants in the US; Al Forno in Providence, RI.
Excellent rustic Italian food (think lots of grilled meats, wood-oven roasted mains, excellent pastas and risottos). The food isn't fussy or particularly innovative as at other top London restaurants, but sometimes simplicity works better than sous-videing.
Building purpose built by Richard Rogers whose wife happens to own the restaurant; his office is next door so you can check out all the cool architectural models after dinner.
We shared some great buffalo mozzarella starter, some courgette fries, and some squid -- all excellent.
My main was a grilled leg of lamb which was fantastic. My wife had a great ravioli filled with swiss chard and ricotta.
Our deserts were equally good; almond tart, and two different flourless chocolate cakes.
Service is fantastic, as is the wine list and cocktails.
This place got a lot of press in US after it's re-furb, so I decided to give it a try during my last jaunt to blighty. It's a quality restaurant, with a very cool looking room and excellent service. BUT I didn't think it matched the hype.
For starters, and this is no fault of the establishment, but the dining room was a bit of a "scene". There was a lot of air kissing and flaunting of diamond crusted watches. It was a little much for me.
I enjoyed my food for the most part. Personally, I felt the portions were too large - which, while justifying the hefty price tag, made exploring the menu prohibitive. I started with a pasta and shared an entree and I was very full. My husband went for three courses and he couldn't touch the cheese I ordered for dessert.
On the menu I'd recommend the pastas and anything from the wood fired oven. The cheese selection is also very nice. Also, the sommelier was great in helping us choose a reasonable but tasty wine, so ask for help in choosing a bottle.
All that being said, I think there are better options in central London...
I went to River Cafe while spending my birthday on vacation in London. Based on reputation, it seemed a great choice for birthday lunch.
But reputation and reality did not meet.
The "char-grilled calamari" entree was more "burnt" than "charred, and this just set us off on the wrong foot.
The main courses were good, but - as another reviewer suggested - just good. Not the exceptional culinary experience one expects from the lashings of praise and hype that are piled on RC.
The dessert of blood orange sorbet was actually great, but I am afraid that making a good gelato doesn't justify the price (both the menu price, and the hefty cab ride from London). And my girlfriend's pear and almond tart was just like the one from Premier Inn.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the birthday experience I was looking for.
A divine anniversary dinner.
His lamb, my salmon--- both perfect in every way. He didn't even think he really liked lamb prior to this and subsequently has sought out an experience to rival River Cafe.
The sommelier came over and discussed our wine choice. I admitted my love for champagne and sweet whites. She brought us a wonderful Italian Prosecco and a side of Cassis liquer "if it's not sweet enough". A Kir Royale, on my anniversary, hummina hummina.
By coincidence, we were sat next to a couple. It was his 60th birthday. We all shared a wonderful conversation and some groppa. He enjoyed racing his vintage Mercedes in Italy (where we were continuing our trip) and they suggested a detour through San Gimignano (a WONDERFUL addition).
We finished off the meal with a lava cake and cassis sorbet.
One of those memorable meals...
My beloved took me here last night and my tastebuds spoiled, spanked and taken to the depths of foodgasms I never knew possible.
This was the culinary equivalent of a dirty weekend.
For a start it had a slightly strange location and was slightly out of the way and the surrounding streets were full of net curtains...
For the last 11 years The River Cafe has been on my list of places I have wanted to visit but have just never got round to doing. Now this has changed and I feel the restaurant more than lives up to it's numerous books and prestige that seems to go with it.
I love the fact that they are seasonal with the food and everyday the menu changes so it is a bit of pot luck as to what you will get, but there is definitely something for everyone, provided you like food that is and don't have any issues with gluten (well for the primi section anyhow).
To start with we had a Lampone, which was Prosecco with fresh raspberries blended in it. To say it was divine would be an understatement. The tartness of the fruit worked well against the sweetness of the Prosecco perfectly.
To start with I had the Chargrilled Squid with Chilli and Fresh Rocket. OMG I nearly died when I ate this. The smoky sweetness from the chargrilling of the squid was divine as was the subtle chilli heat. A squeeze of lemon helped activate all of these flavours all the more and the peppery rocket left a clean taste in the mouth afterwards. I liked that it was a generous serving too as one squid just wouldn't be enough given how lovely it tasted.
My partner had some crab, which was served with aioli and zucchini. The crab was so fresh and clean tasting and the aioli wasn't too overpowering. It was rather subtle and I thought it had wild garlic in but I could be mistaken. The zucchini were quite sweet but cooked nicely and the olive oil used to dress them was very flavorful but not overpowering. There was less crab than there was squid but at the same time it was nice to be able to share both - although I think the squid rules (but then I would say that as I chose that as my starter)
Instead of having secondi dishes which all looked very tantalising and tempting, especially the veal, we opted to have pasta as a next course. I had the Tagliatelle with Girolles and she had some linguini with olives and red mullet.
Both of these dishes were simple but they were beautiful and so nice and pleasant on the palate to eat. My mushrooms were served with a simple butter, sage and parmesan sauce that literally dressed the plate, pasta cooked perfectly and the whole dish had a delicacy about it. The sage wasn't too overpowering either but left the sauce rich and unctuous enough to not become sickly.
I have a small confession to make and that is I don't normally like Red Mullet very much. I feel it is one of those foods that became trendy in the early 90's and people say they 'love' it when in fact they just grin and bear it. I have been lucky enough to try it in some of the best restaurants too but by and large it doesn't do much for me.
BUT after having a couple of mouthfuls of my partners linguine I found my opinion changed a little but that was because you could tell it was very fresh, every mouthful the fish had been cooked perfectly and left a lovely clean taste in the mouth as well as a lovely mouthful of firm, fleshed fish that that beautifully seasoned.
I wouldn't order the mullet but would happily steal...I mean taste some from someone else's plate and I feel I now have a better relationship with it.
To finish we shared the Chocolate Nemesis with a couple of glasses of Moscato which went together perfectly like Mozarella and Tomatoes. In a visit to the River Cafe I thought it couldn't be done without sampling the Chocolate Nemesis as I have heard and read so much about it and I would say you must have it if you go there. Forget all the usual excuses of "I don't like chocolate" "I'm on a diet" or I think "I'll have some cheese" these are rubbish excuses!
For the record I am on a diet and I don't like chocolate much but if I am to choose a dessert containing chocolate then this is definitely the way to go and if you share you halve the calories! (Well that is the white lie I told myself) Still if you are going to go to such a wonderful restaurant such as The River Cafe your diet will go out of the window slightly. Although in it's defense I must add that I did step away feeling quite light and not like a beluga whale as I had imagined.
Now the bill wasn't causing too much need to remortgage in a hurry but it's not cheap. Most Antipasti and Primi come in at £15 and Secondi are mostly £30 but you are paying for wonderful food that won't leave you feeling that you could have had better out of a jar of dolmio. I must warn you of one thing, Italian food is never going to be the same again after visiting here. Other than what you get in Italy itself of course.
Service was friendly, and in some cases
Incredible italian food! Unfortunately, I was too jet-lagged to completely enjoy the experience. :(
Very nice place, though, and I would definitely recommend it for a romantic italian dinner.
For a more detailed review and pictures please refer to
River Cafe in Hammersmith has been opened in 1987, received a Michelin star in 1988 and has been an institution of the London restaurant scene ever since. A place every serious London foodie should visit at least once I finally made it there for a delightful Sunday lunch on a perfect sunny autumn day. The restaurant is difficult to find with a rather inconspicuous sign which is easy to overlook. If it hadn't been for Ed Miliband standing in front and welcoming guests for his luncheon (NB: not me) I would probably still be searching. It is good to know that our politicians appreciate good food, I wonder if this should influence my decision who to vote for?
Back to the River Cafe. As the name promises, it is located close to the shore of the River Thames, overlooking a greener than green lovely garden. I very much liked the atmosphere. It does have a Michelin star yes, but it is devoid of the pretentiousness that is often associated with fine dining restaurants. It is stylish but not over the top and I liked the busy, open kitchen and the big oven. This concept seems to attract a rather mixed crowed young and elderly couples, families and groups of friends.
In addition it needs to be pointed out that they get my award (that I have just introduced) for the most sexy and best dressed waiters and waitresses. Ladies, go their nicely made up otherwise you might not have your partners full attention ( believe me, I speak from my own experience). Unfortunately the presentation of the food was not half as convincing. Don't get me wrong, it all tasted very good, it just could have looked a bit prettier. Considering their prices you would expect distilled beauty on your plate actually.
I really liked the food but I was not blown away by any of the dishes. But maybe this was this is what River Cafe stands for solid quality without major experiments and I actually left River Cafe perfectly content.
We started with Insalata di Polpo (13). Perfectly soft and well seasoned octopus generously drizzled with flavoursome high-quality olive oil and potatoes. I really enjoyed it but- you might agree with me it was just not a very good looking plate of food.
The Insalata con Bortolotti (12) was absolutely delicious. The green salad consisted of a myriad of different kinds of fresh leaves and herbs interspersed with the warm beans and tasted heavenly.
For the mains we went for one primi and one secondi:
The Tagliarini con Granchio (15) were cooked perfectly al dente. The sauce hat a pleasant spiciness to it which worked well with the sweetness of the crab. Fresh dill nicely complemented this flawless dish.
The Branzino al Cartoccio (35) however was horrendously overpriced. It was really nice, but I don't know how nice food must be to make you feel it is worth 35 pounds? The fish was of very good quality and cooked to perfection, it came on a bed of well-seasoned Swiss chard and fresh porcini. I would have happily paid, let's say 22 pounds for it. I struggle with the 35 though. And if you say why do you choose such an expensive main, then I have to tell you that there was not a single secondi under 30 pounds!
We could not resist ordering the cheese platter (12) with a choice of 3 cheeses (sorry Chocolate Nemesis, next time!). Each of the three cheeses was utterly delicious and the serving was generous, more than enough for 2 people.
In summary I should point out that the green light for River Cafe was a tough decision. It is too expensive for what they offer in my opinion.
What tipped it in the end was that you CAN get away with a decently prized meal of very good quality: the starters and primi even though not cheap were not outrageous and they have a choice of wines under 20 pounds available.
Why is iit expensive ? ...................Because they buy really top produce, best cuts and serve it with imagination in an authentic Italian style. Their wood-fired oven is something to behold.............
We (6) lunched last Sat, started off with their signature char-grilled Italo bread drizzled with green olive oil. I could eat a plate of this on its own !
But, their char grilled squid with chilli + rocket has to have its place, its a cornerstone
Dover sole on the bone, very good, one of my fellow diners had the Turbot, a fine door stop tranche, beautiful,l and I was lucky she eats small............ So we shared. This is premium Turbot, we are lucky to enjoy such produce........it won't be around indefinitely.
Deserts.were good, pink rhubarb, delicately baked with what looked like a breast implant pannacotta !!! I rotated my plate for a laugh or two and it remind me of Jordan ( well known author ) but it couldn't compete with the b + butter pudding
Which was the home run of deserts on this particular day........
Well done River Cafe - you don't normally do it but you've done it again !!!!!!
My favourite restaurant in London.
Ok, everyone knows the story that Jamie Oliver used to be an apprentice here.
Of course the food is great. The environment is modern, the service perfect.
What you probably don't know is that there are some quite reasonably priced lunch deals available.
Everything has probably been written about this great restaurantvery expensive, yes; but it delivers consistently excellent and imaginative Italian food with unbeatable ingredients.
I have had fantastic soups, perfect pasta (especially filled pasta), risotto to die for and beautiful fish.
Chocolate Nemesis is a must for all chocoholics.
More suited to business lunches and dinners than a romantic date; a bit out of town in Hammersmith. But still a good place for celebrity watching...
And yes, you will need to re-mortgage - which is why it only gets 4 stars - unless you bag yourself a lunch menu deal.
Please note that I dined at the River Café prior to the fire so I'm not sure how much of this review will be relevant after the refurb. The Financial Times ran a promotion that allowed you to dine for £20 for a 2-course lunch. Considering that dishes at The River Cafe average about £11-£12 for antipasti and primi meals and £27-£30 for secondi meals and even factoring in that we were likely to get a reduced fixed set meal the offer was a very good bargain.
The ingredients in our meals were obviously of high quality but I felt that it was a little over-valued for very simple dishes. I couldn't complain at all about the service we received at The River Cafe - it was impeccable from start to finish. They have more than enough staff to cover staff who are otherwise occupied - from what seemed like more than ten chefs and assorted helpers in the kitchen, to the multitude of waiters in the restaurant to the multiple staff at the front desks so no diner was ever left out on a limb. The attention we received at lunch was perfect. The restaurant ambience was very buzzy - the high roof top meant that it was very noisy from the chatter in the restaurant and therefore surrounded us with a pulsing atmosphere. The restaurant is long with the kitchen/bar running down one side which allows the diners to have some sort of involvement in their meal.
In all honesty this is exactly the type of restaurant that food critics live for - simple food with complicated descriptions and sky-high prices. Almost the opposite of what I prefer.
Absolutely delicious - had the squid followed by hare pasta and then the chocolate nemesis, all of which were delicious, particularly the squid.
We went for lunch on a Monday a few weeks ago and the ambience seemed like it'd be better suited to lunch than dinner. Service was a little slow as well, but as we'd allowed a few hours to eat and then walk back along the river that wasn't a problem.
The meal for two came in at £55 each without wine (3 courses each), which was about what I was expecting - not something I'd do every week but will definitely be returning as soon as I get the chance.
Full review on thehappinessprojectlondo…
If I had money, I'd go here every week as it definitely had the best atmosphere. Filled with interesting, media types, and celebrities (saw Jade Jagger having a ciggie outside); and with a buzzing atmosphere even on a quiet Tuesday night, we were treated like kings and ate a wonderfully simple, fresh, seasonal, Tuscan feast. Perhaps not as delicate or intricate as Chez Bruce or Pied a Terre, this is great Italian dining.
You are given a choice of antipasti, primi, and/or secondi, followed by amazing organic cheese or dessert. I chose as primi the risotto with langoustines, mint, peas and pinot bianco which was simple and delicious. For secondi I had the anjou pigeon which was delicious and heavy, but next time I'd go for the great-sounding fish chargrilled cornish monkfish, turbot tranche, dorset blue lobster.
My friend's boss treated us to a bottle of champers as he had to work late so the rest of the bill was good value about £75 each for 3 courses and a glass of wine with our cheese.
Serves some of the best Italian food in London. The outdoor tables need to be booked way ahead of time but worth the wait. Outdoor play area is unique feature, but the Hammersmith location makes it a bit out of the way
I have never really seen what the fuss is about with the River Cafe.
The food is a sort of pastiche of Tuscan/Umbrian cooking - way over priced.
A publication actually voted this the best Italian restaurant in the world which is of course a total disgrace.
The food here is not bad and ingredients are generally well chosen .
I guess because in general Italian restaurants in London or the UK are average to poor the River Cafe has thrived.
The food is not a patch or the recently opened L'Anima in the City or Locanda Locatelli and Enonteca Tui.
And if you are looking for pastiche I recommend Petersham Nurseries !
I grew up in Italy so my standards for Italian food are pretty high. This place is awesome. I'd resisted going for the longest time because, well, I was sceptical (Ok, the truth is that I find Jamie Oliver kind of annoying and I associate this restaurant with him... Unacceptable reason, I know...)
Went on Sat night a few weeks back. Tricky place to find. Luckily we don't live too far away so despite getting properly lost in the bowels of deepest, darkest Fulham we were not too late for our seating). In any case the service was pleasing -- from maitresse d' to server to busboys -- so they probably would have kept our table.
The menu is simple and simply prepared, almost rustic, Italian fare. I started with wood-roasted Scottish langoustines which arrived in a tangled oregano-fragranced heap. Presentation is not high on the list here. However, I spent a happy half-hour digging out the sweet flesh from the carapaces and claws -- it was awesome. My dining partner had a simple seafood risotto which came 'in bianco', i.e. white with no tomato. It was very well-executed and the seafood bits were cooked to perfection but I found it a little bland. In Rome, where I grew up, risotto ai frutti di mare is always 'red' with a bite of chili.
Mains were fine if a little 'meh'. I had the stinco di vitello (veal shank) with polenta. Again, very well-executed but a little unexciting. My companion ordered the tagliata. Ditto. It was just a steak, afterall.
The desserts were lovely. The Chocolate Nemesis lived up to expectations: deeply unctuous and chocolately. The lemon tart was everything a lemon tart should be: sharp, sweet and soft, with pastry that's not too short.
All in all a very good meal. I'd love to make it my local but I'm afraid that my financial advisor may balk at the idea. No matter what people say about paying for good food, River Cafe is very expensive for what you get.
I visited the River Cafe twice before the fire, but gather it's now open again. It's not easy to get a table, it does required some planning but lunch is a better bet than evenings or weekends. It's a good place for a business lunch or if you want a good natter with friends.
The location isn't particularly good for central London - you'll need a cab otherwise it's a hike from the nearest tube and parking around the place is rubbish as it's all residential.
However, once you're there you won't be disappointed. River Cafe is famous for its fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients. The menu changes regularly and offers beautiful pastas and interesting dishes.
The bread and olive oil served complimentary was wonderful - we ordered several baskets!
I've never been here in Summer, but the large glass doors and patio area overlooking the Thames would be lovely on a warm day.
I guess like a lot of folk The River Cafe, along with The Fat Duck, has been on our "wish list" for what seems like an age. The lovely weather at the end of March, the chance of a cheeky Friday off work and a little cash left in the bank meant that a long awaited pleasure could finally be realised.
The short trek, no more than 15 minutes at an ambling pace, along the Thames Path from the tube station is a nice enough way to arrive at the restaurant although I'm not sure the majority of punters would find this to their taste - we didn't spot many of the walking classes on our visit.
When we arrived around 2pm we found that the gods were really looking after us when we were offered the choice of a table inside or one on the terrace which had a little shade to protect from the early Spring sun which was out in full force. It was a no brainer. If you are lucky enough to turn up on a sunny day and can bag a table on the terrace this is the place to be - the inside space is fine but I found it a bit uninspiring and lacking in "vibe". It put me in mind of a canteen space - not surprising really as that was its original function for the architectural practise next door.
Once we were seated some very fine bread and the good looking paper menu arrived without much delay. We were eating from the set lunch menu, four courses for £39, which had plenty of mouth watering dishes on offer (much better than the choice of 2 starters and 2 mains which is what you often find on the set menu in "high end" places). After a bit of banter with the young, friendly waiting staff we felt we had enough information to go on and made our orders (when you have been waiting this long to go to a restaurant it can be a bit nerve racking making a choice - the last thing you want is to blow it and find you have a bad case of the dreaded food envy).
Perhaps it was the sunny day and the fine white wine from Sicily that we were drinking but this was a meal to savour from beginning to end. My lovely antipasti of chargrilled squid with chilli and rocket was tasty and perfectly cooked but was put into the shade by B's choice of prosciutto with smashed broad bean bruschetta which was just wonderful.
Things got even better with the primi plates; my agnoli with rabbit, bay and pieropan soave was a dish to die for and the risotto con asparagi was simple yet delicately cooked and seasoned. The secondi had been recommended by our lovely waitress and did not fail to deliver: the Cornish monkfish with slow cooked fennel and rocket was perfection and the beef sirloin with salsa verde, cannellini beans and roasted medina tomatoes was a meat lovers paradise.
Despite being stuffed by this point we took a bit of a breather to finish our wine and soak up the atmosphere - service had almost finished and most of the staff had decamped from the kitchen to sit outside and devour a well earned late lunch. Their energetic and engaging conversations made a nice contrast to the two very well groomed ladies sitting next to us who had spent a couple of hours discussing central London house prices and their next rental investments.
After this short break we pressed on with some tart: pear and almond for me and lemon for B. Both were very tasty and went down well but if you are on a budget or have a small appetite my advice would be to have the antipasti and skip the dolci.
By the time we had finished our coffee it was gone 5pm, the sun was starting to lose its heat and the journey home beckoned. The bill was not cheap but compared to the a la carte menu it was a bargain. I'm not sure that I would have found this such a delightful meal if I had been dining at full price, inside the restaurant, in the evening but I would recommend this for a lunch date without hesitation to anyone who has a love of good food.
how have we not heard of this place earlier? dinner was such a memorable experience. i love the fresh ingredients, excellent execution, open kitchen, water front property and view of their garden. it was so delightful, my husband bought me two of their cookbooks thinking i might be able to recreate some of the magic. i'll certainly try!
huge fan of the insalata di fagiloi and spinach pasta..and the melon sorbet was a summery party in my mouth.
A friend visiting London wanted to eat at a Michelin starred place and I took advantage of his request to look for one that I hadn't visited before and soon zeroed in on the River Cafe.
However as we walked towards the restaurant from Hammersmith station one bright Sunday afternoon, I almost began to regret my choice as the locality turned progressively shabbier. However the last turn to the restaurant was a big surprise. It was a huge place with as much seating outside as inside. The front opened into a garden, which had tables and a playing area for the younger guests, and which was right on the bank of the Thames. It looked beautiful. The lunch became very enjoyable just because of the ambience.
We were in a good mood already and my friend decided to experiment with his food (I typically don't experiment with new meats at high end restaurants, but only with new dishes). For starters we shared an antipasti that was prepared with figs. It seemed an odd accompaniment for ham, but we enjoyed it nevertheless.
We went for two dishes for our main course ... A small one from the "primi" section and a larger one from the "secondi" section of the menu. The penne pasta was fabulous. One of the better ones that I have had. However my friend made an error of judgment when he ordered the full grouse. It was quite ok ... But since it came with bones, it was somewhat difficult to handle. Besides it had a very heavy flavour ... and was cooked quite rare. Also my friend expected it to be a white meat dish which it wasn't. So he was unable to enjoy this dish as much as it should have been enjoyed.
River Cafe, like most establishments in its class, had a somewhat limited choice of wines by the glass. But our waiter made some good suggestions and we liked out drinks.
The disappointment of the main course was more than made up for by the desserts. I had a conventional dish ... Vanilla ice cream with whiskey. It cost ~£9. However the amount of whiskey they served (it was provided in a separate glass) was more than a standard double. The price was worth it just because of this. My friend ordered our favourite item of the afternoon ... Zabaglione custard. This was my first taste of this Italian dessert that is made with eggs and wine. It was divine. The taste has stuck to my mouth. I shall return just for having this dessert again :)
It's an expensive restaurant (as we expected it to be). We paid around £70 per person for our meal. But it's awesome ambience and service makes it preferable to a number of other restaurants in its league.
Matt B. and I went to the River Cafe for our anniversary dinner, and if I could do it again, I would pick somewhere else. We still had a good time, but this was in spite of the restaurant.
First of all, it was rather out of the way, and between the unreliable tube and the cab ride from the station, we almost missed our reservation. This is a fairly minor complaint, I suppose. My real gripe about River Cafe was the nonchalant and dismissive service. We informed our waitress that it was our anniversary, and while we weren't expecting freebies, we didn't get so much as a candle in our desserts. Instead, we got rushed service. I understand the value of efficiency, but sometimes you want to sit back and enjoy a meal at leisure. Anniversary meals must be high on that list of sometimes. The River Cafe is an upscale and expensive place, but our food came faster than it did at Pizza Express. We were done with our entrees exactly forty minutes after we sat down. They slowed down the service after that, but in my opinion, the longest foodless interval of a meal should not be the wait for the check. The space was nice, much larger and busier than we expected, so I suppose efficient service was a bit of a feat. Still, there was no reason for it to be terse and impersonal we were paying so much for our meal.
Much would have been forgiven, though, if the food had been amazing. It was passable. Bread was decent and came with good salt, pepper, and olive oil. We ordered a nice bottle of erbaluce for £29 - our waitress's recommendation when I asked for a wine in the £20s.
I was impressed by our starters, which at £15 each cost about as much as our pastas. Matt got the prosciutto di San Daniele, which came with two crostino of chicken liver and sage and squashed tomato and extra virgin olive oil. I got the bresaola con Barba Bietole with red and gold beets and fresh horseradish. Neither involved much preparation on the restaurant's part, but this was fine. They were both delicious. The prosciutto was of excellent quality and I enjoyed the heavy but tasty chicken liver. The bresaola was wonderful, and the combination of beef with sweet beets and lightly pungent horseradish was exactly on point.
I was sorely disappointed by the pasta. I love pasta, and when it's done well, I can hardly think of anything better. I was expecting delicious al dente homemade pasta from River Cafe, but what we got was actually rather flat. I ordered the tagliarini con funghi, fresh fine pasta prepared with English porcini, cream, thyme, and parmesan. The pasta lacked any bite, and the mushrooms were sliced so thin and cooked so much that they didn't have any flavor or texture left. A hefty amount of garlic made the dish edible, but otherwise it was a bland disappointment. Matt's panzotta di zucca was better. This was fresh pasta stuffed with pumpkin and Buffalo ricotta with marjoram butter and pecorino. It was essentially a pumpkin ravioli, and like nearly every other pumpkin ravioli I've come across, it tasted good. It was not, however, anything special.
Dessert was much better. The chocolate nemesis was as sinful as its name suggests. This was a lush, delicious flourless chocolate cake that was soft in texture like a shaped mousse. The chocolate was great, and not too rich. I also enjoyed the panna cotta with grappa and raspberries. I love a good panna cotta, and this one was excellent, flecked with vanilla and boasting a perfect smooth creamy texture.
Our dinner wasn't a disaster by any means, but it was one of our most expensive and least impressive date night meals. There were some good moments, but the pasta was so lackluster and the service so disheartening that I don't think I can recommend the place. On a side note, they did order us a cab, and when we met it outside it was an S class Mercedes. We got stuck with an inflated rate, but I suppose it was a fun experience. Like the River Cafe itself, though, it was probably not worth it.
this reastaurant is beautiful inside great place to sit and eat ,a well designed room. The service was friendly and relaxed our wine waitress was great but our order taker was a little inexperienced describing botarga as cheese when in fact it was dried fish roe t.the dish was still nice if a little unexpected.the rest of the food was simple well cooked and enjoyable i was every course was was nice but i was a little underwelmed by the flavours.the price tag was high but not unexpected so did not mind too much.All in all a good meal but a little pricey to become a regular.
The River Cafe is a favorite of mine in London. I try to go every time I visit, assuming I can get a reservation. It's a hot spot for sure, and it doesn't seem to be cooling down anytime soon.
The modern interiors by Richard Rogers, are sleek and clean, with a holographic clock, ticking away on one wall. The kitchen is opened to the dining room, so you can see what's happening behind the line. The outdoor seating is nestled next to the restaurants organic herb garden, feet away from the Thames.
The food, though categorized Italian here on Yelp, seems to be a bit more modern/British, with Italian influences. It's not classic Italian, with heavy sauced pasta dishes etc... Sauces are light and fresh, not heavy and dense. Preparations are simple and traditional, encouraging the ingredients to speak for themselves. There are plenty of fish dishes on the menu, plus a few meats: A whole pigeon, veal, and Leg of Lamb.
They have a fantastic wine menu, as well as a great selection of cheeses too.
If I'm ever rich enough to come here every week, I still won't, because it will simply spoil the treat. Nobody should get to experience this too often.
This is a class act in every respect. Great location, stunning interior, beautiful menu, great ingredients, brilliant kitchen staff, friendly attentive waiting staff...
The restaurant continues to maintain the highest of standards even though one of the founders has gone to eat her own food daily up in heaven.
Packed to the rafters when we took my thoroughly deserving aunt, long suffering missus and the little scamp we were lucky enough to be able to stroll down via the river from our home in hammersmith. We are lucky enough to have an abundance of brilliant restaurants in this neck of the woods but frankly the river cafe is a national treasure, not a local one.
The crowd in here is affluent but relaxed, sharing in the joy if the place. I bring the tone down but nobody notices. The place buzzes with excitement. Visually it's a one off. Modern inside and out, spacious, bright with sweeping curves and boaty colour scheme apt for it's riverside setting.
The dramatic bar laden with raw ingredients the place has always been famed for. It sets the tone. Then at the back, the open plan kitchen so you can observe the hoards of staff going about making the best food this side of the Greenwich meridian.
And that absolutely humungous wood fired oven. It's all so cool, for want of a better word. But not shoreditch cool. This is effortless.
The menu. Pure Italian. Pure simplicity. A big selection of antipasti, second and primi. Something for everyone.
Even the bread and olive oil is great. The olive oil tastes of apple. The bread beautifully sour.
Carpaccio of sea bass for me to start. Beautiful to look at. Dressed perfectly. Wonderful fresh taste. Winner. Deb had squid with chilli and rocket. I have to say, for 5 stars, this was the only slight disappointment, it felt a bit understaffed and dry. But the squid again was perfect. Aunt had crostini, each one a little gem. The scamp tucked into the gorgeous bread and had tasters of all ours.
I had calves liver for my main. Perfect. Just perfect. Deb had pasta. But check this out. She couldn't choose between the last of the season morel linuini and the beef Ragu. So the waitress suggested she have both, a half and half plate. We thout she was joking. But she wasn't. What fun. This is a serious restaurant, but with a lightness of touch. Neither dish disappointed. Unforgivably I can't remember what aunt had but I guarantee it was delectable. And the scamp had a main of lamb which they serve simplified for children and half price. It was ever so tasty but could maybe have had some greens to accompany the gorgeous fried potato.
We couldn't fit in puddings but the scamp had ice cream in a cone. I can't comment on said ice cream's quality, I didn't get a look in.
We washed it all down with a bottle recommended by the helpful friendly sommelier and could have stayed all afternoon. In fact we nearly did.
You hold your breath for the bill, of that there's no doubt. But this place is worth every penny. Confident enough to do simple things brilliantly in fine surroundings with relaxed staff. Just an absolute treat. If there are any dining experiences in London that beat this for laid back elegance, I've not been there yet.
Truly great stuff. I'm already planning next year's trip.
The food, albeit good, is not spectacular as it was when this place first opened. The service has gotten so much worse, this last time we had a waiter who appeared bored with us, our order (which he mucked up), and us. Do yourself a favor and buy the cookbook for someone you know who can cook and eat that food. It will be a better dining experience, and MUCH better value for money.
Love the modern setting, the simplicity of the menu, the Italian inspired food, service and the cookbooks; it's pricey but all is delicious. Sorry that on my last visit to London it was being renovated!
The River Cafe never fails. Superb atmosphere - the 'mise en scene' is perfect - wonderful lighting, making women look more beautiful, the freshest of fresh ingredients used in deceptively simple dishes, charming and attractive staff and - until recent illness - the constant presence of one of the founders to ensure its standards never drop. The tables are bit close together and the hubub almost engulfs the room in the late evening (it's never less than totally full), and if you are seated too close to the open fire it can be a bit warm.but these are quibbles. Take your fullest wallet, your prettiest friends and a taxi (because you won't find it if you try and drive there and you want more of that delicious Pinot Bianco and a grappa to finish off with).
it's by the water, which is nice, but the surrounding area is just okay. everyone at lunch was telling me this is "one of the nicest restaurants in hammersmith." duly noted.
i had the mozzarella salad to start - very good, but comes with a huge slab of mozzarella cheese. then i had some sort of pasta for lunch - it was good, but nothing too memorable (that's why i can't remember the name of the pasta).
overall, decent food and experience. try this if you're in hammersmith and want to go to one of the nicest restaurants in the neighborhood.
Best italian in London, period.
Unpretentious, honest, hearty italian cuisine, and yes it is expensive but they do use premium fresh ingredients. (They actually change their menu DAILY based on ingredients!)
The cafe itself is designed by the owner's husband, whose office is right next to the restaurant along the river. When the weather permits its obviously best to sit outside and enjoy the view, but the interior is also cool and casual with the huge wood burning oven and exposed industrial furnishings. Service is super friendly and knowledgable.
Best things to have here is anything that comes from the wood burning oven( the turbot was to die for), the lemon tart, and the chocolate nemisis. (probably the best chocolate cake in the world!)
Far too expensive for a regular visit. I used a £120 gift voucher and still had to pay an extra £60 to cover a 3 course dinner for two including one bottle of wine & 2 aperitifs. At the end of the day Italian food is based on a peasant cuisine - 2 or 3 basic ingredients freshly prepared and simply presented. RC does it extremely well, don't get me wrong, but save it for a special occasion!
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