5/5 by Alice
River Cafe never fails with exceptional food, drink and service every time. Excellent produce always perfectly prepared and delightful staff (including the lovely valet team).
Disappointed, overrated & overpriced
We had been looking forward to our dinner, the reputation built up over the years excited us!! We arrived on time, regrettably we booked a table outside, convinced when we booked the outside area was protected, enclosed & heated! On arrival we tried to check our coats, reception suggested we keep them as area was cold, negative start before we sat down! Booked table for 4, table shown to us was set for 4 but only had 3 chairs, poor show for this pricey overrated joint! Best part of meal was the focaccia. We each ordered a starter, 2xAperagus-bitter, i x crab very small portions for £35, i x pasta, overpriced too, probably. Mains Pigeon-Tough, tasty. 2x Veal, served cold, was supposed to slow cooked for hours?? i l complained, they took the dish away and replaced with same Luke warm portion, no improvement. For over £100 for 2 courses each not good enough!! By this time we'd had enough, paid the bill and left. Polite and kind waiter advised they did not charge for one of the veal portions. Obviously they realised the food was definitely not up to scratch! London has many wonderful restaurants, serving amazing. This one misses the boat by a mile, exists due to their celebrity clients only! Sadly we wont be back
HOW did they get a Michelin Star?
My husband and I were very excited to try The River Cafe. Our daughters had given us a generous gift voucher because it was my Birthday and they knew we had already booked our reservation. We had a booking for 18:30. We were informed from the time we booked that we would be seated outdoors....no issue for us. We arrived early at about 18:05. The hostess informed us that the dining area wasn't open but offered us the bar where we might order a beverage. We sat at the bar for at least 20 minutes. We were never even acknowledged much less offered a drink. Once our table was ready I expressed my frustration with the situation and wasw met with all kinds of "Oh Im so sorry......"We were seated outside and our candles were never lit. The food was certainly not exceptional. The lady seated next to us was offered a refund for her main (steak) as it was "sinewy". The sommelier was excellent and our waitress was OK.
Disappointed and underwhelmed
We've been meaning to dine at the River Cafe for more than 20 years and we finally got around to it this week. We went for the Winter Set Lunch menu which offered a reasonable array of choices. However, when the main (primi and secondi) dishes came they were a tad on the small side. I could have accepted this had the food tasted as good as it looked but it did not. For a start they were lukewarm rather than hot. The dishes lacked the robustness I was expecting in fact I would describe them as insipid with the overriding flavour of salt. The dolci were excellent but, that's not really enough to save an entire menu. I was extremely disappointed and, I am struggling see how they have a one star Michelin rating because compared to other one stars the River Cafe is way off the mark.
Booked a lunch for a special treat with my wife - didn’t qualify for set lunch menu so was easily £60 a head more expensive. Our issue wasn’t financial more that we were rushed through starter and main and at £35-£40 an item it was unnecessary. Wine also rushed through so we had to ask for a pause after mains to try to enjoy the experience. I also moved seat as our waiter clearly being trained on the job was either permanently hovering over me or being animatedly advised at a volume louder than our table conversation. Mains were crashed down on our table with my wife’s crashed down with the server leaning over me. Fast serving, unwarranted rapid wine top ups, leaning and talking over us are small yet unprofessional things which you don’t expect to spoil your experience when paying high prices at an infamous venue. We visited last 3 years ago in the evening and had far better more experienced staff. A real disappointment given our expectations and prior excitement. I doubt we will visit again for a while but appreciate dining experience is usually only as good as the staff and service. So disappointing.
Very disappointing lunch. Prices have dramatically increased and quality of of food has fallen. Mozzarella starter was tired, tasteless and rubbery, and if it came from Italy it was a very long time ago. The River Cafe used to be stand out quality but now very middle of the road, Has the management taken its hand off the tiller ? Or has all the energy gone into the new shop and on-line deliveries. Service still very attentive. John Adams
Saved by the Winter Set Menu !
Four of us went for lunch today. We each had the three course Winter set menu plus a bottle of wine and a round of coffees. Came to £85.00 per head or £340.00 for the four of us. While the a la carte menu at River Cafe is extortionate to the point of absurd (£29.00 for a puntarelle salad as an antipasto - Mamma mia !!!!) the set menu is not bad at all. I had taglierini al ragu (First class-pasta that was far better than, say Brutto) and coscia d' agnello ai ferri - the lamb was pink and superbly cooked. The accompanying contorno of finocchio was delicious. That was followed by a scoop of zabaglione gelato that was also alcoholic and memorable. The test of a good restaurant is if it is offering you something that you couldn't remotely do at home - and here it passed with flying colours. I lived in Rome and that taglierini was as good as anything you can get in Italy. Positive points: restaurant buzzing and full on a weekday lunchtime, lovely and bright and the service smart and impeccable and lots of it. No muzak. The Tuscan bread offered at the start was excellent. Negatives: don't you dare go near the a la carte menu unless you're stinking rich or totally mad. Mains are around £55.00 !!!! Wine list is one of those ones that has a couple of bottles at £45.00 and everything else is madly priced. But ...I expected to be disappointed and wasn't. As long as you stick to the set menu you won't be bankrupt.
Now no longer what it was.
It used to be a place thats aim was to make people feel good, now just a place to make money. A sad demise. Ok food with child sized portions. If I have a main of spaghetti vongole I expect more than one clam and a few strands of spaghetti. Scallops as a main? Don’t expect to get more than two small ones. Allergic to cream but can eat ice cream with your desert. Well that’s an hefty extra charge. If I was surprised by all this you only had to listen to the tables crammed in around us to realise the all had the same comments. You shouldn’t leave a restaurant feeling cheated. A feeling only made worse by seeing staff tucking into plates piled high with food the other side of the window whilst you struggle to get your bill.
Having arrived in London for a few days we were excited to get a cancellation for lunch for our party of 7, that was until we got there and were shown to our table, (the only vacant table in the restaurant), this table was right next to the open fire oven, which was way too close to this oven with that level of heat, also staff constantly buzzing around this particular area. It didn't exactly exube ambience at this table. This seating should not exist in this particular spot. The main course was enjoyable, however for afters the chese selection option was really dismal in presentation , we opted for 3 cheese option and were presented with 3 rough cut cheeses on a plain white plate with no form of decorative presentation, this was accompanied by thin flatbread that crumbled wen trying to pick it up. Let's just say at the price we were paying we felt deflated in the experience we had.
Overpriced perhaps. But very good.
As an Italian who had parents in the Italian catering business, I am picky when it comes to Italian food. I’ve been to most places in town but I must say the food here was the most authentic and tastiest. It was kept simple, as good Italian food ought to be. So if you are one who wants all the Knightsbridge glitz, this isn’t for you. Having said that, it’s expensive. My monkfish thought was huge…but the scallops as a main, was minimalist. A lovely sunny day by the river added to the experience. I would certainly recommend it, but bring money.
Beautiful restaurant with terrific servers.
I had the linguini al vongole to start. I found it a tad salty and maybe only 5 clams. I followed with a delicious monkfish. I find $100 pounds for lunch rather high. It's my first day visiting. I can't say if the restaurant is expensive or London is
On my most recent trip to London, my wife suggested I try
On my most recent trip to London, my wife suggested I try the River Cafe. She'd happened upon their podcast and has been a bit obsessed. I happily obliged and made a lunchtime reservation. The restaurant is located just off the River Thames in an industrial building in Hammersmith. The two highlights of my experience were the service and the food. My waiter was incredible. He not only had suggestions of his favorites, but he told me I could order half orders of different things so I could experience more dishes. When describing the dishes, he spoke as if he cooked them himself. His passion for the dishes came through. When asked about wine, he did just as well as any sommelier I've spoken with and provided great recommendations. He totally set the tone for the meal for me. Foodwise, I started with the Granchio, which was a pile of Devon crab meat with Sardinian winter tomato bruschetta, aioli, and a quenelle of crab butter. This dish was briny, sweet, rich yet light...wonderful start to the meal. For my primi, I got a half order of the Agnoli de Viltello (slow cooked veal shin wrapped in little pasta bundles in olive oil and sage) and the spaghetti con vongole e bottarga sardo (clams and shaved bottarga). I ate the agnoli first and as good as the veal filling was, it was the pasta that was the star. Just expertly crafted with a beautiful texture. This dish was super simple, but delicious. I followed with the clam and bottarga pasta. The first few bites after the earthy agnoli were, to be honest, a bit intense. The overpowering flavors of the sea just did not transition well from the veal pasta. However, after my taste buds acclimated, I was able to truly enjoy the creamy pasta with tons of clams and bottarga to the fullest. Briny, fresh, chewy, creamy, salty all came together in harmony. For my secondi, I did a full order of the fegato in padella, or calves liver seared with sage, spinach, braised artichokes, and proscuitto. When I ordered it, the waiter stopped for a second to make sure that I did indeed like liver. Once I confirmed, he beamed a smile and declared his love of the dish. The liver did not disappoint! It was minerally, with a great texture. So delicious. At this point, I was done. I couldn't eat another bite. That is, until the waiter surprised me with a slice of the chocolate walnut and amaretto cake. I wanted to hate him for bringing that out, but it was soooo good!Once I got back to LA, I looked up the chef and came upon a video of her speaking in Brussels. She gave a brief history of the River Cafe and how it came to be. She was very captivating in explaining her mission and their processes, etc. But the one thing that really stood out to me was when she simply said, "we want people feeling better then when they arrived." That, in a nutshell, was my experience. I felt better (exponentially) then when I arrived.
Overpriced and entitled
Can't deny the food was delicious and a lovely place to be on a beautiful summer's evening. But a restaurant like this could only exist in Fulham given the very high prices which meant a two course meal (one of which was a 'cheaper' pasta dish) and an entry level wine still came to over £200. If expensive restaurants with an entitled clientele is your bag then you'll enjoy it here but, otherwise, there are far better places to spend your money.
An experience I will never forget
Have wanted to visit for a long time and it didn't disappoint, loved the experience. Food simple and perfect - everything I would have expected it to be. Loved that Ruth Rodgers was there and milling about. Nice atmosphere and enjoyed sitting outside on a lovely summer evening. Overwhelmed by my experience and still talking and thinking about it. Gosh it was expensive though.
Outrageously expensive and not that good food.
This was our third visit and we were very disappointed. I just cannot see how they justify their exorbitant prices. We were in a party of six for lunch and had wine very much at the lower end of their list. The bill per couple came to £305. I was most disappointed with my food. The lobster starter was acceptable but the main course of Turbot at £47 was very underwhelming. It was not firm and the accompanying braised courgettes were slimy and overcooked. The potato side was similarly slimy and unappetising. The setting is lovely and the service was efficient and friendly. The overall experience would have been enjoyable at £80 a head for lunch but in my view £150 is totally unacceptable for food that was frankly not out of the ordinary.
So disappointing That I thought it was a prank!
We had an overall disappointing experience at the River Cafe. The only good thing I can remember is the valet service. I struggle to understand the hype , and long waitlists. I would not even comment on the michelin star that is a insult to the profession. Restaurant was full, with a good atmosphere and some VIPs at some tables. However the restaurant is cramped and the surrounding is far from idyllic , nothing special, you d get the same in a lot of pub on outskirt of central london. Menu is Italian but the ingredients are not to the level of any decent trattoria. As starter we had : buffala which was on par with supermarket upper range, pizzeta we could have had at zizzi and untasty artichoke spread on non uniformly grilled toasts Mains were a good but non special vegi pasta (price £37…) My £48 dover sole was tiny , fish roe had not been cleaned, sauce was over lemony and side greens were cold Desert was a continuation with an industrial tiramisu and a hard as rock almond tart with 3 Tesco style raspberry on it. Bill came at 125per head without bottle of wine (just a cocktail and a glass of wine each) Outrageous! Dont know if post covid supply and labour shortage means a one star now has to lean toward cheap chain but Michelin definitely has a way overdue inspection to make here!
Lunch at River Cafe in the sun, enough said…
Outstanding in every way, location, service personality, wine and the food: absolutely delicious. Wonderful vibe lunching in the sun for my sister’s birthday last week. Ok it’s expensive but I really couldn’t fault it in any way. Loved: my calamari salad and pigeon, my sister had: lobster salad and Dover sole. We shared an epic dessert of fruit, cream and pastry to finish. Sommelier selection of a small vineyard italian wine reflecting our menu choices brilliant and no fuss made when we wanted to take a third of a bottle home, one of us back to work, one driving. Whoever is hiring and training the hospitality team and chefs has got it very right. Don’t change a thing please. Great also to see the young team heading to the staff table by the river with their well deserved lunch towards the end of a very busy service. Overall 10.
Let’s wake up! People are struggling to pay bills. Shamefully expensive
Average food outrageously overpriced. £30 for a pasta starter? Baffling. £40 for a seabass main? What justifies the prices. Maybe the view? So disappointing. Staff lovely but not professional hospitality staff. Most just part time students and not experienced. Didnt know the menu etc. This is important because 12.5% added on top of exorbitant prices means you pay a colossal amount for unprofessional service. I felt quite ashamed that I spent so much money on this and the experienxe reminded me of my own white priveledge. Throwing away so much money on something like this when people are struggling to pay bills. Was a wake up call for me. This place may have been exceptional but not any more. And for me, I think I would prefer to donate to a charity than spend my hard earned cash on this.
This legendary Italian on The River Thames in The
This legendary Italian on The River Thames in The Hammersmith area of London is a force of nature that came on the scene in 1987, and it feels a bit 87 in there, in the best way. The colors of the servers clothes, the aqua blue carpet, the mirrored bar and ceiling, the handwritten menu that changes daily gave me the feeling of the time I went to Maxwell's Plum with my dad when I was young. You feel the specialness of the room. The food is delightful, the staff are a mix of young summer jobbers and old pros, all trained nicely. We booked a noon lunch and it was tremendous.
Great Food, So-So Service, and Expensive.
3/5 by Tfl1
The food was outstanding. I had buffallo mozzarella to start - wonderful. The wood pigeon was possibly the best I have ever had. The Afagato to finish was awesome. We had three nice relatively inexpensive bottles for 6 of us. The service was mediocre. I ordered a side of spinach with my pigeon, and it did not come with the course. After reminding our waiter, it finally arrived - just as our table had finished our course. Then, we ordered coffee which did not come. It took nearly 15 minutes as we asked 3 wait-staff before the coffees came. And my expresso was cold. For a restaurant charging these prices, these service lapses are unfortunate. The cost was just shy of £900 for 6. This was mouth-wateringly expensive for a lunch. I was glad to have gone, for the food.
Expensive, but worth it
A 60th wedding anniversary. for the offspring of that Union. We told them this and they looked after us well, after all their limit was 8 per table, we were 9, but they coped. An airy bright room with very attractive, smart and understanding servers... The wine list had a first page with nothing under three numerals... I blanched, but further on the second cheapest at £53 was fine, after all the kids had bought us a bottle of Champers to start. They also hit on the idea to go for the mains at £47 and then the cheese .Then. ice cream The lamb was absolutely superb... not enormous helpings thank goodness but beautifully presented. No pushing of pricey bottled water either, but sufficient iced the bill was £700, as we had two bottles of the wine ! but everyone had a very happy lunch...
Overpriced food not worthy of a Michelin star
I recently went there for the first time for my birthday dinner. We were already shocked by the paper table cloth and loud (albeit buzzy) atmosphere. Waiters/waitresses young and not well trained, not knowing who at the table ordered which food or drinks. The food was fine (but not more than that) but not living up to the price tag of £30 for a starter or pasta/primeri. Not only that, the secondi meat dish (nearly £50) was swimming in an oily juis, it was plated horrendously, no finesse but looking the opposite of appetising and definitely not what I expect from a Michelin restaurant. Overall very disappointing and not sure how they maintained the Michelin star and what the hype around the restaurant is. It might have been great in the good old days but not anymore!
We had a nice dinner here a few months back in March.
It has a great vibe and definitely is a hot spot. If you can eat outside with the weather being nice, I think that would be a great experience. We were inside which was fine but its pretty crowded and noisy (even on a weekday) so if you want a quiet place for a meal, this probably isnt it.The Jasmine cocktail was really nice and had good flavors to it. Our bottle of Amarone paired nicely with veal. We were a little disappointed not to get an explanation of the cheeses so would make sure you ask for that. The Recioto was a great dessert wine too.Overall this is a really nice restaurant thats worth a visit but probably not in a regular rotation