We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“This Restaurant should not be in business” 2 of 5 stars
Review of The River Cafe

The River Cafe
Thames Wharf Studios, Rainville Rd., London W6 9HA, England
020 7386 4200
Website
Improve this listing
Ranked #1,500 of 17,998 Restaurants in London
Price range: $31 - $78
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Special occasions, Entertaining clients
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Late Night
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“This Restaurant should not be in business”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 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.

  • Visited July 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

562 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    282
    132
    87
    43
    18
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Norwegian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Sydney, Australia
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Patchy and pricey”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 6, 2013

Given the history and reputation that the restaurant has developed under its original owners we were very disappointed. The quality of the food was patchy with only one dish - scottish scallops with wonderfully cooked peppers, being a knock out. And knock outs should be the case for all dishes given the price tag. The wine per glass was also very expensive. We dined in 1 and 2 star Michelin restaurants on our recent holiday and concluded this restaurant was the most disappointing and grossly overpriced for the whole visit.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Horrificaly overpriced.”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 5, 2013

I visited Tuscany earlier this year and have always loved Italian food. I have been wanting to go to The River Cafe for a while now and finally my boyfriend and I visited the restaurant for lunch. Whilst I have to say the decor, atmosphere and staff were friendly (although we were rushed through our meal), the food was not. We had the chargrilled calamari to start for £18. It was a tiny, rubbery roll of squid, on a bed of what looked like bog standard rocket and an occasional chilli here and there. I love simple Italian food but £18 is a ridiculous price for this starter. We had a mushroom tagliatelle and another lobster pasta dish for the Primi course. Both delicious actually, the highlight of the meal. However not remotely worth the price tag. The main was another let down- overcooked grouse and a watery, dull fish stew. £38 a pop. Ludicrous. After a final attempt at an uninspiring cheese board and a £350 bill, we left deflated. For the same price, please get yourself a flight to Tuscany! A huge disappointment.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Fine italian dining with excellent wines”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 2, 2013

I spent an evening here with friends and had a rare opportunity to try most of the menu. I must say that they have wonderful ingredients to start with and robust nice Italian dishes to come from that. Not super fancy presented, just plain traditional food made in a really good way. That's the way it should always be.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Always The Best”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2013 via mobile

We have enjoyed many fabulous meals at The River Cafe and today's was no exception.
It's just a very special place.
No need to pin point the food, it is perfect in every possible way.
Every course is a highlight. Delicious, simple and literally worth licking the plate !
The service is elegant, descreet yet attentive and any requests or preferences are always taken care of to the letter.
Yes it's expensive, yes it's a pain to get to and getting a table is hell but it's so worth it.
I love this place and cannot wait for our next visit.
Please bring back the zabaglione ice cream!

  • Visited September 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed The River Cafe also viewed

 
London, England
London, England
 

Been to The River Cafe? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage The River Cafe, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.