SquareMeal Review of Sam's Riverside
Sam Harrison is west London restaurant royalty, having operated the much-missed Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick for 10 years. He’s back with this terrific brasserie-style restaurant which works hard to earn the loyalty of locals while possessing a corking river view and terrace which makes it a London-wide destination for the summer months, though the twinkling sight of Hammersmith Bridge is an atmospheric focal point whatever the time of year.
It’s a beautifully designed space, with big windows illuminating the room with natural light by day and super-flattering lighting casting everything in a golden glow come the evening. Statement floral displays and toffee-leather and petrol-blue velvet seating look as smart as the setting. But with Harrison on the floor for most services, the people here are as important as the place, and the friendly young staff are as warm as the lighting.
Legendary modern British pioneer Rowley Leigh is the culinary director and the kitchen does a mostly good job of executing his comfortingly familiar Anglo-French ideas. Pick of the bunch for us was a meaty tentacle of grilled octopus, crisped up with charring and accompanied by an excellent punchy saffron aioli.
To follow, steak and kidney came on dripping toast that acted as a sponge to absorb the meaty juices and was nose-to-tail eating of the most enjoyable order, though it’s not all so gutsy: sirloin with béarnaise and chips had all the flavour of bone-in cooking while diver-caught scallop ceviche was light, clean and prettily presented in the shell.
Only a starter of over-salted clams with braised trotter and white beans failed to pass muster, though Queen of Puddings ended things on a high note in the way that only a confection of custard, jam and meringue can.
Pre-theatre menus cater to the adjacent Riverside Studios and there are set-lunch and Sunday roast menus too, but you don’t have to eat here: the bar rustled up one of the best gin martinis we’d had in a long time, as chilly as the river flowing past in the night.
About Sam's Riverside
As part of the major rejuvenation of Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, restaurateur Sam Harrison has launched Sam’s Riverside, an informal yet stylish restaurant and bar which features large windows, splashes of marble and an open kitchen.
As the name suggests, Sam’s Riverside overlooks the Thames and boasts impressive views of Hammersmith Bridge. Open daily, the kitchen at Sam’s Riverside is overseen by head chef Harvey Trollope and the menu of mainly Anglo-French dishes has been devised in collaboration with culinary director Rowleigh Leigh, who previously launched Kensington Place and has worked at Le Gavroche.
The space features a standalone bar which serves its own menu of snacks and light bites, alongside the usual beers, wines and cocktails. If you are just looking for a few quick and casual plates, you can choose from the likes of parmesan churros, grilled squid on nduja toast, and a buttermilk chicken bun slathered with red cabbage coleslaw.
Those who are settling in for the evening though can dine from the restaurant’s à la carte. On the menu, you can expect to find oysters and seafood dishes such as scallop ceviche or grilled octopus with pimento potatoes and saffron aioli. The rest of the offering champions modern European cuisine, which means the likes of beef tartare with quail egg served on dripping toast, or perhaps peppered venison chops finished off with onion squash and sprout tops.
To round off your meal, you can choose a sweet from Sam’s rather tempting selection of desserts. Traditional offerings include apple tart served alongside caramel ice cream and cider brandy, as well as buttermilk pudding with thyme shortbread, fig, date and walnut.
Sam’s Riverside is also home to a sumptuous outdoor dining area, while the chic private dining room can seat up to 18 guests.
This isn’t owner Sam Harrison’s first foray into the restaurant world. He previously owned Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick and Harrison’s in Balham before selling them to the Foxlow group in 2015.