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“Great restaurant but not cheap”
Review of The River Cafe

The River Cafe
Ranked #1,079 of 23,993 Restaurants in London
Price range: $28 - $70
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Breakfast, Dinner, Reservations
Reviewed September 9, 2013

I was lucky enough to be taken here by a good friend to celebrate his birthday and it was amazing. The weather was awful, the first rainy day in August so we couldn't sit outside but sitting indoors wasn't disappointing. Food was excellent, service was good and the ambience was good. Food wise it delivers as expected but for rustic food and not fancy fine dining, it is pretty expensive, thankfully I wasn't paying.

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Thank 283Tanga283
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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849 - 853 of 1,257 reviews

Reviewed September 9, 2013

The River Cafe is a gem of a restaurant. It's totally unpretentious for a "Michelin" starred experience and I personally love the simple, modern Italian food here. The chefs really bring out the best of the well-sourced ingredients in a refreshing, no-nonsense way and the friendly staff, the buzz of the room and the open kitchen create a great overall atmosphere and dining experience. It doesn't come cheap, but this is a legend and firmly one of my favourites.

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Thank marti71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

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3  Thank ElJayDee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

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Thank susanbrooks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

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1  Thank NGillers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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