River Café

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
Critics' choice
2 Love It

Despite its reputation for exclusivity, it’s possible to get a table at the River Café with just a couple of hours’ notice if you choose your moment. Best is high summer, when the blue garden tables are spread widely through the courtyard, and the potager is at its peak. The relaxed, cheerful disposition of staff and customers is so contagious, you almost don’t notice the retina-melting price of the food. With most secondi costing £34-£39, you can expect to pay around £75 per person for three courses with wine, even at lunch. On the plus side, the wide-ranging Italian wine list is fabulously democratic with a great by-the-glass selection and prosecco starting at just £6 a coupe. Starters showcase bought-in deli ingredients. but often have something home-made to make them pop – the sweetest, most velvety bresaola, say, with a warm sformata pudding of ricotta and peas, plus a confidently charred garlic bruschetta. Exquisitely intense apricots featured in a buttery almond tart, but didn’t quite stop us envying the many large bowls of own-made gelati that sailed past. Our only disappointment was a bitter-tasting plate of spaghetti bottarga – baby yellow tomatoes detracted from, rather than enhanced, the dish.


Venue name: River Café
Address: Thames Wharf, Rainville Road
W6 9HA
Opening hours: Lunch served 12.30-2.15pm Mon-Fri; 12.30-2.30pm Sat; noon-3pm Sun. Dinner served 7-9pm Mon-Thur; 7-9.15pm Fri, Sat
Transport: Tube: Hammersmith tube
Price: Main courses £30-£40
Do you own this business?

Average User Rating

2.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:3
1 person listening
James O

One of my favourite restaurants in London. Good for a special occasion. Expensive, but delicious food.

O. Gordon

If all the press on the River Cafe is to be believed, it really is one of London's most important restaurants. Having started the careers of so many noticeable chefs and with it's endless celebrity diners, does it really live up to expectations? Well, no. Not at all.

To begin with, the room itself comes across as very cold. It's nice to see the kitchen at the end with the log fire but it fails to entice. Despite its namesake, you can't see the river and the tables are truly packed in so make sure you squeeze tightly into those uncomfortable chairs. The food is wildly over priced for typical Italian fare that seems to have been drizzled with far too much olive oil. I'm sure the high price you pay is solely to keep certain clientele away from their prestigious restaurant as it's rare not to see at least a few celebrities (talented or not) dining there. 

The wine is good and varied, their one saving grace. The staff are mostly rude, patronising and unfriendly, adding to the coldness of the atmosphere. On my most recent visit (I have been a guest for my 3 visits, I would never choose to dine there) one of our party informed the waiting staff of her food intolerances. The waiter said they couldn't do anything about it. A head waiter confirmed the same thing before the chef came out and said it would 'ruin the flavour' if such ingredients were not used. After a very lengthy discussion, they agreed to try. When the food eventually came out, on her first mouthful she realised that they had not removed what she asked them to which left her feeling ill for the next 8 days. Great service.

If like to be disappointed by a name, treated badly by staff and be overcharged for mediocre food whilst you sit uncomfortably trying to work out why you recognise that face at the table by the window, then this is the place for you! 

Sara O

Unless you’re loaded, a meal at the River Café is strictly for special occasions but the combination of delicious – and not overly elaborate or rich – food and genuinely friendly service make it a gorgeous place to celebrate.The setting doesn’t hurt, either; by the time you’ve strolled along the river from Hammersmith tube, you’re already in the zone. Lunch, in the courtyard is probably nicest. You can’t actually see the river but the restaurant’s herb garden creates an away-from-it-all feeling.Going for a starter plus pasta and drinking prosecco (six quid for a glass) is a way to keep the cost down a bit.

Tom C

The River Cafe is expensive and the food at times quite simple. If someone asked you why the restaurant is nice and why the food so good you'd struggle to answer but it just is. The private room is a perfect space for a special occasion. Cocktails were keenly priced.


Our last visit to River Café was very disappointing...getting a table so easily 2 days before might have given us a hint! As always the room and staff looked lovely but when the bread (on the verge of being stale) arrived, the disappointement started. My antipasto of Zuchini Fiore was nothing more than 2 dull looking tempura Courgette flowers surrounded by about 40 pink deep fried shrimps...I didn't manage to finish my place (that never happens to me either)...my crab linguine was ok but it is really the bill that got me chocking - 540£ for 5 people having each an antipasto, a main course, 2 small glasses of wine (decent) and sharing 2 desserts and 3 coffees was quite hard to digest - I will not return and certainly won't recommed it, it is not worth what it costs.

Ok at best

Unfortunately our dinner at the river cafe was in the same week I found out that my favourite restaurant in London had closed down, a restaurant that did not have a Michelin star for which I could never figure out the reason. So tonight I spent all night figuring out the reason why the river cafe does have a star. The service was so-so. My wine was topped up once by the waiter. The ossobuco tasted like an old school dinner, the spinach was so salt I can't wait to get home to drink a gallon of water....and despite the fact that I didn't eat most of my food (something that NEVER happens), we were not once asked if we enjoyed our meal, our starter, our wine or our evening. I love food and I love eating out, I am not a snob, I respect the graft and hard work restauranteurs, chefs and waiters put in, but I it's been many many years since I left a restaurant feeling that it had been a complete waste of money. So, in summary, perfectly ok place, great history, ok-ish food, lovely wine, ok-ish waiting staff, but with a lasting sense of disappointment. I just don't remember the last time i left a restaurant feeling cross and cheated. Why have they got a Michelin star?


We splashed out and had a small family wedding lunch in the private room. Half of the family are mediterranean and we were relying on the River Cafe to come up with the goods to please. It was a fantastic success, with such an outstanding antipasti course that we would have gone home happy if it had ended there. The service was excellent and we will definitely now be thankful of the anniversary excuse to go back there to celebrate.


Had a tasty lunch here recently. Some of the best olive oil I have ever tried. However I thought it was on the expensive side for Michelin food. I was also very disappointed with my table and was right by the entrance. I recently came across this site www.tableguru.co.uk and recommend using it to find the best table! Next time I will try and get a window seat in the middle of the restaurant


Terrible. Worst value for Monel in London. I would not even give it one stare out of ten let alone a Michelin star!


Very dissapointing. Main course was served on a cold plate. No value for money and certainily not a Michelin star restaurant