The River CafeLondon | United Kingdom

  • added: Apr 11 2010
  • author: foodsketches
  • comments:
Editor's choiceHidden jewel
The River Cafe is one of the finest Italian restaurants in London. It is not centrally located and for a good reason. It benefits from being on the river bank and has beautiful outdoor facilities. The restaurant was established in 1987 by Ruth Rogers & Rose Gray. Since that time they have achieved an international reputation for their cooking & got a Michelin star in 1997. All what they learned about cooking was through the extensive travels to Italy; cooking with friends, chefs and wine makers, who shared with them their traditional and regional family recipes.

The River Cafe is one of the finest Italian restaurants in London. It is not centrally located and for a good reason. It benefits from being on the river bank and has beautiful outdoor facilities. The restaurant was established in 1987 by Ruth Rogers & Rose Gray. Since that time they have achieved an international reputation for their cooking & got a Michelin star in 1997. All what they learned about cooking was through the extensive travels to Italy; cooking with friends, chefs and wine makers, who shared with them their traditional and regional family recipes. Sadly Rose Gray passed away this year at the age of 71 losing the battle with cancer. This is a tremendous loss in the chef community and certainly among friends & loyal customers of The River Cafe.

On our last visit to the restaurant we spent some time talking to our waiter, and I believe his comments sum up best what this place is about. He has been in this restaurant for over 5 years now and he never experienced such a feeling of belonging. Ruth & Rose were always active contributors to the life of their restaurant & they were present on the site. They made everybody feel part of the big family. Such an ambience is truly exceptional & it goes beyond the kitchen. Some clientele of the restaurant has been going there for over 20 years; new customers tend to always come back as well. We are no exception to this rule. We love the atmosphere of the place: on one hand side it is impeccable Italian cuisine, on the other – it manages to maintain low key and cosy atmosphere which is a rare combination in London. One of the reasons for such combination is a concious effort that one makes travelling to this place (remember, it is not central London); and even if you take a cab sometimes it is not guaranteed that cab drivers find the place... And , yes, you do need to book in advance. 

Menu is always seasonal and can change twice a day between lunch & dinner. It is always on single piece of paper & offers a tremendous choice of Italian delicacies with a mixture of British ingredients.  Among our favourites are Bresaola with black pepper, lemon & artichoke 'alla Guidea';  fresh Devon crab with lemon, parsley, chargrilled polenta & radicchio; chargrilled squid with fresh red chilli & rocket. All pastas are handmade and come with delicious sauces. Try the one with red mullet and fresh tomatoes and basil.  For those of us who like experiments, we would highly recommend  pasta with rabbit slow-cooked with pancetta, sage, bay, juniper, Amarone & tomato. Delicious! Selection of main courses comprises of a beautiful fresh fish selection or seasonal game and meat. You can never go wrong with fresh fish and depending on a season, we would certainly recommend to go with the seasonal specialties,  for example,  in the autumn – open fire roasted partridge (hard to put it in words!!!).

For the desert (if you still have place) we would recommend a selection of seasonal cheeses, and for those of us who have the sweet tooth, there is also a small, but very selective choice of Italian dolce. Wine list is very impressive comprising of noble Italian names. It is impossible to pass a bottle of good Gavi di Gavi or an opulent red of Tignanello... and of course to start a meal with a glass of refreshing and bubbly prosecco!

I probably can’t say enough how special this place is and hope you would be able to discover its uniqueness for yourself!

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  • Thames Wharf
    Rainville Road
    London W6 9HA
  • +44 20 73864200
  • http://www.rivercafe.co.uk
  • Lunch
    Monday-Friday: 12.30pm-2.30pm
    Saturday: 12pm-3pm
    Sunday: 12.30pm-2.15pm

    Dinner
    Monday-Friday: 7pm-9pm
    Saturday: 7pm-9.15pm
  • Restaurant
  • Italian
  • International
    Seafood