The River Café

Italian·
££££
·
Gold Award
·

SquareMeal Review of The River Café

Gold Award

Although artisan competition is fierce these days, we side with the fan who reckons that The River Café serves “the best ingredients-driven Italian food in London”. This convivial Hammersmith evergreen (30 years young in 2017), which is rightfully so happy in its skin, is a very slick operation and certainly in the capital’s gastronomic ‘Serie A’, although it gains added kudos by virtue of its entrancing views and seductive riverside terrace (an absolute must-do on balmy days) as well as its decor, which some say is “dated but iconic”.

The rustic glories of Italian regional cuisine are writ large in a seasonal menu that majors on daisy-fresh salads, glossy pasta and specialities from the imposing red log-burning oven: in summer, that might mean poached langoustines with aïoli and pea salad followed by clam risotto dressed with zucchini flowers or wild salmon baked in sea salt; in winter, Tuscan bread soup with Swiss chard could precede whole Anjou pigeon wood-roasted in Chardonnay with speck, smoked celeriac and watercress. Further classics might be turbot with the greenest of beans, lobster risotto or char-grilled calamari with rocket. To conclude, chocolate nemesis is still the go-to option, but fruity tarts, grappa-laced pannacotta and the citrusy almond and polenta cake are also delicious.

 

Prices are top lire (a bowl of cherries is £10), although “exceptional service” is as friendly and engaging as it gets in London. Meanwhile, a list of pedigree Italian wines served at the correct temperatures in the correct glasses makes The River Café is the most well-rounded of treats.

 

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £50 - £79
Cuisines
Italian
Ambience
Cool, Fun, Glamorous, Lively, Unique
Other Awards
One Michelin star
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating, Waterside
People
Celeb-spotting, Child friendly, Romantic, Special occasions, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating

FAQs

What is the menu like at The River Café?

The River Café is famous for its Italian-focused menu. You can expect antipasti, primi and secondi sections on the menu which include things like Tuscan bean soup, tagliatelle with ragu and bruschetta.

Helpful? 0

Who owns The River Café?

Chef Ruth Rogers owns The River Café in London.

Helpful? 0

How many Michelin stars does The River Café have?

The River Café has one Michelin star.

Helpful? 0

Location for The River Café

Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 9HA

020 7386 4200

Website

Opening Times

Mon-Sat 12.30-2.15pm (Sat -2.30pm) Mon-Sat 7-9pm (Fri-Sat -9.15pm) Sun 12N-3.00pm

Reviews of The River Café

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31 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Anon

06 August 2019  
Consistently good food and fabulous atmosphere.

Jill C

26 July 2019  
My favourite restaurant food, service and ambience superb.

Jacqueline H

01 July 2019  
We went to the River Café because we were given a gift card and I had very high expectations but sadly was very disappointed. The meal was average, prices too high for the quality and we ended the meal with a panna cotta which was not up to standard, it was actually flat on the plate, I considered sending it back, but when I observed the rest of the diners who had also ordered it nobody seemed bothered by a flat panna cotta so I didn't say anything which I now regret.

Hugh M

15 June 2017  
Always excellent food but at a price.

James W

30 May 2017  
The best ingredient driven Italian food in London - but what really sets it apart is the exceptional service and (in summer) glorious setting.

Natalie H

04 May 2017  
The best place to have lunch in West London.

Jane Q

02 June 2016  
EVERYTHING wonderful.

Hugh M

16 May 2016  
Delicious food in a great setting by the river, but getting ever more expensive.

Tal L

13 May 2016  
Beautiful location with great views - especially on sunny days. The food was very tasty but the prices are too much.

Lorenzo D

This restaurant should not be in business
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
Service
Atmosphere
Value
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