Tuesday, 12 November 2013


For once I did not have my usual Monday morning dramas of "I'm so fat", "I need to try and lose a stone this week", "my diet starts today". Instead I was off for a lovely lunch at the River Cafe for my gorgeous friend Joanna's birthday.

I run past the River Cafe regularly and always dream of being there having a fabulous meal so I was very pleased about it all. I have eaten there a couple of times in the past and really enjoyed it although I have to say Pascal did not rate it (as a HUGE pasta fan he was disappointed that there was not more pasta on the menu) and he did not think the food was worth the extortionate prices (main courses are around £37.00).

The restaurant is located on the north bank of the River Thames in Hammersmith in the former Duckhams oil storage facility and it opened in 1987 as an employee café. Within 10 years it had earned a Michelin Star and is also famous for the amount of successful chefs that have trained in the kitchen such as Theo Randall, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and probably most popular of all Jamie Oliver. 

Despite it being a miserable day, very grey and lots of rain, the restaurant is full of light and there is a huge open kitchen. We started off by sharing a glass on prosecco at the little bar area until moving to a lovely round table by the window looking out on to the little garden and river.The restaurant changes the menu twice a day as they like to use completely fresh and seasonal ingredients so I couldn't do my research online much to my dismay. Then when the menu arrived, it needed some concentration!!

Some things on the menu I had never heard of so had to ask and I have to say the waitress was very helpful and attentive and not at all snooty like some places.

I did find it quite hard to order off this menu as nothing jumped out immediately as a favourite so in the end I went for the Mozzarella di Bufala with trevise hearts, pecorino, chickpeas and olive oil to start (the most cheesiest dish on the menu).

Now I have to say I wasn't enamoured by the choice of ingredients together, I am a simple girl who loves a mozzarella and tomato salad but I guess it is good to try new things as this was absolutely delicious. Everything came together perfectly and complemented each other and every mouthful was divine. 

The birthday girl had the same as me but everyone else had the chargrilled Scottish scallops  with fresh red chilli, parsley, braised cicoria and lemon and they all said it was incredible - there was not a clean plate in sight!

I nearly had the scallops but was very pleased with my choice in the end, as I would have been disappointed to only receive two as I am such a greedy piggy!

For mains a couple of us had pasta and the rest had fish. You could have had the pasta as a starter if you fancied - I was even tempted by pasta and then pasta! I was torn between the ravioli with fresh chestnuts, buffalo ricotta and thyme or the taglierini with cornish crab, parsley, chilli and lemon. As I had the cheese to start, I ended up going with the crab. Once again it is not something I would ever choose when having pasta but I was very very pleased I did as it was great.

And for the first time in my life ever I did not ask for cheese on it!!! There was the right amount of sauce, the pasta was cooked al dente and the crab tasted incredibly fresh and there were no crunchy bits which is a pet peeve about crab.

Joanna had the ravioli and said it was amazing.

The rest of our group were very healthy and all had fish.

Ruth had the wild sea bass chargrilled with olive, anchovy and capers with Italian spinach and rocket.

Anna and Maresa had the Cornish monkfish roasted over potatoes with fresh porcini, thyme and livio feluga sharis (I am not actually sure what that is)!

And finally Sue had the wood-roasted whole Dover sole with capers and marjoram and roast violetta artichokes. This is a signature dish for the restaurant as it is smoked in their own wood stove (I have to admit when I saw the stove I thought it was a pizza oven)!

Absolutely everyone waxed lyrical about their food and not a bite was left so I can safely say it was all very very good.

Since it was a birthday celebration we just had to have some cake and we ordered two portions of one of the River Cafe's other signature dishes - the chocolate "Nemesis" cake.

As you can see from my previous posts I am not a pudding person but this was incredible and I couldn't stop myself eating more and more - very rich but it literally melts in your mouth - it is far far superior to a regular chocolate cake.

What a fantastic meal. It is by no means cheap, I eat out regularly yet I was shocked by the prices however I have to say the food is excellent and you pay for what you get. The restaurant is beautiful and it is even more so in the summer as there is a gorgeous little garden over looking the Thames and you can even sit outside (depending on the English weather)! 

I think it is a perfect place for a special lunch, I have yet to come here for supper however I expect it can be romantic too - one of my very good university friends got engaged here over the summer and I think it must have been a perfect spot.

Thames Wharf,
Rainville Road,
W6 9HA
Tel: 020 7386 4200
Email: info@rivercafe.co.uk

Square Meal
River Cafe on Urbanspoon

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