The River Café in Hammersmith was started by Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey in 1987 as the employee cafe of architect Lord Rogers architectural partnership. It has a garden overlooking the Thames and if you’re lucky enough to be there on a fine evening you can sit outside and enjoy the view together with the home cooking style Italian cuisine. The River Cafe earned a Michelin star in 1997 and is unsurprisingly hugely popular.
The menu is tweaked twice daily with an emphasis on the finest seasonal ingredients and offers an all-Italian wine list. This is a very buzzy restaurant as I rediscovered when I was lucky enough to visit again last week. Don’t come here if you want peace and quiet, you won’t find it, the River Cafe is always full to the gunnels with people enjoying themselves and bustling staff ensuring that everything runs smoothly.
Signature dishes include chargrilled squid with red chilli and rocket, wild mushroom risotto, Dover sole and John Dory smoked in the restaurant's own wood stove; and rich Italian desserts including lemon almond cake or chocolate Nemesis cake. Having said that all the dishes change to match the freshest ingredients to be found each season.
Start your evening with a glass of Prosecco with fruit in season (and avoid the temptation to drink it in one) and finish with a scoop of strawberry sorbet. You’ll leave a little poorer but extremely happy.
Planning restrictions stipulate that all diners must leave by 11pm, (11.20 on Friday’s and Saturdays) so book an early time – in any case the more time you have to enjoy this superb restaurant the better.
Famous chefs who have trained in the River Cafe’s kitchens include Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and April Bloomfield (of the Spotted Pig in New York).
This is really a marvellous restaurant and well worth the effort. Go there if you can. It is always a treat.
www.rivercafe.co.uk Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA 020 7386 4200