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
££££ - Over £80
Cuisines
Italian
Ambience
Cool, Fun, Glamorous, Lively, Unique
Other Awards
One Michelin star, SquareMeal London Top 100
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating, Terrace, Waterside
Special Features
Vegetarian options
People
Celeb spotting, Celebrations, Child friendly, Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating

About The River Café

Michelin-starred The River Café has long held the status as one of the best Italian restaurants in London, originally opening in 1987 and retaining its iconic reputation pretty much ever since. Located on the banks of the River Thames in Hammersmith, it’s known for its exceptional Italian food, excellent-mannered service and its stunning terrace, which is a must if you’re dining at the restaurant on a balmy day (although you might have to join a waiting list to get a seat). Head chef and founder Ruth Rogers is at the fore of the kitchen, and has been for the last 35 years, with The River Café spawning some of the UK’s greatest chefs including Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Theo Randall.  

The interiors are simple, minimalist and a little dated, which is all part of the canteen-style charm that the restaurant was originally built to imitate. Bright colours draw the eye to certain features in the room, such as a bright pink wood-fired oven, while stainless steel finishes bring a slightly industrial, café-like edge to the dining room.  

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and the menu changes with the seasons. Expect rustic Italian fare that’s unfussy yet elegant and made with exceptionally high-quality ingredients. The menu is divided into antipasti, primi, secondi, dolci and gelati. Dishes might include the likes of Carpaccio di Manzo (finely sliced beef fillet crusted in thyme & black pepper with rocket and Sardinian winter tomatoes), Tagliatelle al Ragu (fresh pasta with veal, rabbit, pancetta and radicchio slow-cooked in red wine) and Coda di Rospo con Vongole (monkfish and clams roasted in white wine with capers, anchovies and cima di rape). Dessert span many gelato flavours and classics such as lemon tart or pannacotta with Grappa and Champagne rhubarb.  

The wine list, meanwhile, features varieties from Italy’s many wine-making regions and also includes port, masala and sweet wines.  


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

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

020 7386 4200

Website

Opening Times

Lunch
Mon 12:00-15:00
Tue 12:00-15:00
Wed 12:00-15:00
Thu 12:00-15:00
Fri 12:00-15:00
Sat 12:00-15:00
Sun 12:00-15:00
Dinner
Mon 18:30-23:30
Tue 18:30-23:30
Wed 18:30-23:30
Thu 18:30-23:30
Fri 18:30-23:30
Sat 18:30-23:30
Sun Closed

Reviews

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32 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Anon

24 October 2021  
Food & Drink 4.5
Service 2.5
Atmosphere 1
Value 3
Staff don’t get service charge

The food was incredible. But everything ended on a sour note when we double checked if the staff got the service charge. They didn't - and were very hesitant to tell us as such.

The owner was there ignoring any customer who wasn't a famous actor or disgraced businessman. Sad to think she gets the tips, not the lovely staff who served us.

 

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.
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