The River Café 333

Thames Wharf, Rainville Road , London, W6 9HA

10 reviews

71 Italian Hammersmith

  • The River cafe London restaurant Hammersmith
  • The River cafe London restaurant Hammersmith

SquareMeal Review of The River Café

SquareMeal London Hot 100 2018My favourite place to go for a special occasion”, says one admirer of The River Café, while others are quick to praise the “stunning views” across the terrace and river – “especially on a sunny day”. But this place is also a year-round winner, with a colourful wood-fired oven standing proud in the crisp white and blue space, and a menu of “spectacular” food and drink inspired by the artisan traditions of Italian regional cuisine. Seasonal ingredients are paramount here, and we suggest homing in on the salads, pasta and anything from the aforementioned oven – perhaps chargrilled squid with fresh red chilli and rocket or hand-cut malfatti with boozy slow-cooked pheasant, fennel and pancetta ahead of, say, veal shin in Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo with risotto bianco and gremolata. After that, plump for one of the indulgent gelati, some regional cheese or pannacotta with grappa and pomegranate. It may be “getting ever more expensive” (especially if you plunder the list of stellar Italian wines), but fans still think “everything’s wonderful” here.

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7.0

Food & Drink: 7.7

Service: 7.2

Atmosphere: 7.1

Value: 5.3

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 1.0

El Jay Dee 09 September 2013

I do not understand how this restaurant is still in business. The proposition is flawed. Being Italian and a food enthusiast I was excited to try a restaurant with such a good reputation for producing great food and whose kitchen has trained the likes of Jamie Oliver and Theo Randall. Despite lacking what I would define “the chef's touch”, the food was good. Excellent ingredients, nicely put together and cooked in accordance with Italian traditions. No issues there. Unfortunately everything else was disappointing, especially when put into perspective of the price. This is not a one-off, this is a structural problem. It was a rainy day and we walked in with dripping wet umbrellas. No one asked us to leave them at reception and no one seemed to really care. In the end we had them next to our table! The table we had initially booked was outside, on the terrace. Unfortunately it was raining very hard ad having lunch outside would have been impossible. So we asked to be moved inside. This created an incomprehensible aura of confusion among the staff. When we were eventually moved we were given a rather strict time limit. Shouldn't a place like this plan for such eventualities? Perhaps I am being too harsh. Perhaps rain in London is “force majeure” and I should just accept the unusual circumstances. This excuse does not however apply to the sommelier who acted like he had to be somewhere else and rushed us through our wine selection skipping over the question we had asked. All the above would be acceptable if this was a Trattoria in the countryside charging £20 per person. But it is not. This is a Michelin starred restaurant with consequent prices and guests expect something more and $80 pounds per person for a well executed plate of pasta served on a paper table-cloth accompanied by mediocre service is just unacceptable. This is the essence of the problem. The food is good but in a good day most of us can cook it at home with humble ingredients. So what is the value proposition of this restaurant? If The River Cafe is going for the friendly/casual experience why are the prices so high? If they are going for a great dining experience why is the service so mediocre? In the end it is most likely this restaurant will continue being successful on the back of its good reputation and will continue attracting customers for which the marginal cost of money is zero or for which a good plate of pasta is worth a great deal of money. Unfortunately, or rather, fortunately, I am not one of them.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 1.0

Alex B. 29 August 2013

We've lived near the River Cafe for some time and I often pass it at the weekends when the car park is packed with expensive cars and the restaurant is equally packed with their well healed owners. I must admit it looks fantastic – especially when everyone is sat outside on the terrace – so we were excited to go there for lunch. Possibly my expectations were just too high but with starters around £18 and mains from £34, high expectations are encouraged. The food was obviously not terrible but we all felt it was very dissapointing.Tubot was served at room temperature (aka cold) and we were warned it would be, but were not expecting an accompaniment of cold (excuse me, room temperature) lentils. The potato with my lamb was also cold. Apparently it was supposed to be (not warned). I enquired if the lamb was also supposed to be cold and was told it should be ‘slightly warm’…now possibly I'm quite alone here but when I order lamb and potatoes I really want all of it piping hot. Pasta was also cold. Dessert also undewhelmed – a ‘summer fruit pudding’ was a slop of stewed fruit with no discernable pudding and lemon tart (which was delicious to be fair) was served more simply that I would expect in a Michelin Star restaurant – just a slice with a blob of cream on the side. All that said the venue is stunning, the atmosphere and service are both excellent, but the food was dissapointing at the price.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Sippora V. 28 July 2013

Unfortunately our dinner at the river cafe was in the same week I found out that my favourite restaurant in London had closed down, a restaurant that did not have a Michelin star for which I could never figure out the reason. So tonight I spent all night figuring out the reason why the river cafe does have a star. The service was so-so. My wine was topped up once by the waiter. The ossobuco tasted like an old school dinner, the spinach was so salt I can't wait to get home to drink a gallon of water…and despite the fact that I didn't eat most of my food (something that NEVER happens), we were not once asked if we enjoyed our meal, our starter, our wine or our evening. I love food and I love eating out, I am not a snob, I respect the graft and hard work restauranteurs, chefs and waiters put in, but I it's been many many years since I left a restaurant feeling that it had been a complete waste of money. So, in summary, an ok place, great history, ok-ish food, lovely wine, ok-ish waiting staff, but with a lasting sense of disappointment. I just don't remember the last time i left a restaurant feeling cross, not satisfied and cheated. Why on earth have they got a Michelin star?

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

London Gourmet platinum reviewer 26 January 2013

Italian classic in London. Always packed and buzzing. If you don't want to drive all the way out to hammersmith (or struggle to get a table) you can also go to theo randall who used to be head chef there and now has his own place offering very much the same great food offering

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

Jeremy r. 22 December 2012

I barely recognised this restaurant from the critic's review of it, and overall it's a big disappointment on several key grounds. First, diners are packed in like sardines into a crowded space with tables and other people's chairs almost touching yours. Second, paper table cloths? Third, the food is good but really nothing special, nothing outstanding, nothing surprising, no nice touches, almost just dumped on the plate. We visited here for dinner, wanting to compare it to the other three michelin places we'd been to in the last few weeks (Corton, Cafe Boulud, Kitchen W8). Well, it was a big disappointment because the food was just… ordinary… nothing special, and we've had better in regular Italian restaurants in central London. I'm sure it will be packed most nights as it has a strong media and “I love the cookbook” following – but we found it over-hyped, over-priced for what ends up on the plate, noisy, indifferent services and absolutely not in the same league as any other Michelin star places we've eaten in. Resting on its laurels, relying on faded glory about sums it up. Big disappointment.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Caroline D. 15 October 2012

Every time I go, I'm ever so slightly disappointed by the lack of atmosphere at the River Café. The staff are lovely – helpful and attentive, without being “in your face”. The food is consistently good (though the chocolate pudding is always a little ordinary). I find it quite expensive, given that it doesn't feel that special on dark nights, but I keep going back which is testament to the overall quality of a meal there, and it certainly feels like a lovely treat every time.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

Umberto S. bronze reviewer 02 July 2012

I had lunch with my family on Saturday 23rd May. A fairly expensive restaurant with such a good reputation and winner of awards, etc. should know better. … For £80 per head, I'd like a proper table cloth and not a paper one (and please spare me the ‘environmentally conscious speech’ because it's a lie: the only reason is to save money). Similarly, you don't want to have so many tables close together that it makes difficult for guests (and waiters) to walk across the room. The feeling is that you are dining in a very expensive canteen. This is not the experience one would expect from a restaurant boasting Michelin-star rating The food is good, but nowhere near as good as it used to be. The vitello tonnato is supposed to taste of tuna, otherwise it should not be called as such. Perhaps Mrs. Rodgers could pay more visits to this establishment and go back to basics? On the positive side, our waitress was really good Overall, I don't think I'll go back any time soon. London offers so much better

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Adam D. bronze reviewer 18 June 2012

Probably the best restaurant I have eaten at in London. Fabulous room, very bright and airy (we went for lunch) with a very buzzy atmosphere, both from the clientèle, and also from watching the bustling staff in and out of the open kitchen. Yet at the same time very relaxing, and the sort of place I would have loved to while the afternoon away at. The food was spot on Italian. Very fresh, fabulous flavours and well presented. Plus the most amazing almond tart, where the texture was as divine as the taste. Service was friendly and very efficient, though hardly surprising as they had oodles of staff. One small gripe was a couple of the tables (especially by the pillars) were very crammed in, but as it wasn't full we were able to select a better table. You certainly have to pay up for such perfection, but I certainly didn't begrudge a penny.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Theodore L. silver reviewer 23 March 2012

One of the best restaurants in London offering great italian cooking in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. Very good service and good value for money considering the very high standard of food and service. Great for Sunday lunch.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Sian B. bronze reviewer 07 March 2012

I have been here many times now, mostly for lunch, but occasionally on an evening too. There is something very unique about the River Café – perhaps it centres on their choice of ingredients and their simple philosophy with food, but you can always guarantee a tasty, well-presented meal within a lovely ambience.

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