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River Café

Restaurants, Italian Hammersmith
4 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(11user reviews)
 (Richard Bryant)
Richard Bryant

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A celebrated Italian restaurant set back from the Thames Path

The River Café is a sleb in its own right. Opened in 1987, it was famously intended as the canteen for Richard Rogers' architectural practice. But then his talented chef wife Ruth and her pal, the late Rose Gray, started shaking the pans and the rest, as they say, is history. Over the last thirty years, it has built its reputation by serving unfussy yet stunning Italian food. Oh, and training the likes of Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall along the way.

It's warm, buzzy and casually expensive: the kind of place where retired publishers take their godchildren to dinner. There are usually a fair few mwah mwah luvvies, too. (Gwynnie P. had her fortieth here.) The large dining room isn't particularly memorable, but the cooking remains faultless. Curls of bitter chicory came lifted by a gutsy anchovy dressing; folds of perfect pappardelle were served with a faintly gamey, chianti-spiked ragu of pheasant and rabbit. Even the polenta was knock-out. Seriously.

One final tip: prices are excruciating, but portions are generous. So go for a summer lunch, sit on the terrace, order a plate of pasta and live like the A-listers do.


Address: Thames Wharf, Rainville Road
W6 9HA
Transport: Tube: Hammersmith tube
Price: Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £200.
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Users say (11)

3 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:2
2 people listening


I recently had lunch today at the River Café.

I didn't know it was required to book the Winter Menu in advance and the person over the phone didn't ask me anything as well.

It turned up to be a "BIG" issue:

1. the waitress got pissed off when i asked for the menu (she didn't try to hide it)

2. the restaurant Manager came to our table to say: "You booked for A-la-carte menu and the Chef will not be happy that you want to take the menu"

He did this in front of my friends, that was really RUDE.

It's not the first time I have lunch at The River Café, but it's certainly the last one.

They don't deserve their Michelin-star, the service is sub-par to non-existent.


A firm favourite in London! Nothing beats a long summers day lunch outside soaking up the sunshine (and some wine). This restaurant is a classic that has been around for generations and is had a serious part to play in the food scene today. Relaxed friendly service with such simple seasonal food. A must for any real foodie. 

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

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.

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.

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 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

0 of 1 found helpful

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) 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.

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