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River Café


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Really an excellent dinner, from an ingredient quality and expression standpoint I can't remember a better restaurant meal in this country.

High praise. We've never been and must go on our next trip.

 

I don't get out much, though.... I'm more or less in revolt over London haute cuisine. Best English meals (sushi and the infamous turkish bbq aside) last year were all in people's homes.

 

Nonetheless, highly recommended, no question.

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  • 3 months later...
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  • 5 months later...

Hi,

I went to The Rive Café this week.

It's been closed quite a while due to fire - explaining the long silence on this topic - and only reopened a few weeks ago.

 

The meal started slow, but really picked up, ending on a top note.

I enjoyed an excellent Dover Sole and tasty Grouse especially and so strongly recommend any dishes from the oven.

There was also a great selection of delicious desserts.

 

Bon appetito! - The River Café Review

 

Food Snob

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  • 3 months later...

Hi,

 

Just before Christmas, I returned to the River Café.

 

For the full post and photographs: Dinner at the River Café

 

This is a snippet:

 

"The food too was excellent. We had twenty-one items off the menu (wow, that many?! pride and shame are awfully hard to tell apart) and, not only was the execution on each and every one faultless, but we enjoyed eating them all. The antipasti were full of flavour; the pasta, delicate and tasty; the mains, hearty; and the formaggi, dolci e gelati, all yummy. For me, the fritto misto, spaghetti, cape sante, rombo and chestnut sorbet were highlights."

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  • 2 years later...

It's interesting to think of why River Cafe is still very good after nearly 25 years.

 

Certainly, it's no longer "new" or "exciting". I take it that when it opened, it was the first and only place in London offering very well-prepared and very well-sourced haute casual Italian food. I don't get the impression that type of food has now completely taken over London to the extent it has New York, but it certainly can't be a shock anymore.

 

OTOH, while River Cafe might have been "new" for London when it opened -- it's clear from the comments on this website that London didn't have anything approaching the Italian-food tradition that New York has -- there was nothing that "new" about the kind of food it served. So River Cafe didn't depend on any innovations, or radical new styles, that could later go stale. It just introduced a kind of food to London that hadn't been done well there before. So it has been able to just keep doing what it does, without seeming tired.

 

One thing that was widely noted about River Cafe when it opened was the quality of the ingredients. It is evident that the ingredient/source-driven fad has taken hold in the UK at least as much as it has in the US. So high ingredient quality is no longer THAT exceptional.

 

BUT -- and this is key -- many restaurants that start out by touting their especially high-quality ingredients let things slip as time goes on. It's a way of avoiding price increases, if nothing else. Well, based on my lunch here earlier this week, I can assure everyone that River Cafe has not let this happen. The pork chops I was served, just as pieces of meat, were things of real beauty. The vegetables were all first-rate (I mean REALLY first-rate). The mozzarella cheese I had as an antipasto was exceptional.

 

So I guess the River Cafe has been able to maintain itself because it started with a concept that, while new in its context, wasn't in any way trendy or time-bound. And it's maintained the quality of its product with focus and integrity.

 

Good for them. Good for us.

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Still very good.

Glad to hear. Never been.

 

On a general note (maybe this deserves a thread of its own), in your estimation, how do Manhattan and London places compare in general?

In New York, I have never eaten such stellar ingredients as I have at The Ledbury, Roganic and Hedone. Also, for casual dinners, I would so much rather eat at The Harwood Arms and The Bull & Last than any similarly situated venue in New York (both for food, drink and atmosphere, and, of course, quiz night).

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I have to agree.

 

When places in the UK in general (not just London) tout their ingredients, the ingredients are much better than what we see in New York.

 

(Without having reviewed this thread to see if you posted in it, have you eaten at the River Cafe, Nancy? I think you'd really enjoy it.)

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OTOH, while River Cafe might have been "new" for London when it opened -- it's clear from the comments on this website that London didn't have anything approaching the Italian-food tradition that New York has -- there was nothing that "new" about the kind of food it served. So River Cafe didn't depend on any innovations, or radical new styles, that could later go stale. It just introduced a kind of food to London that hadn't been done well there before. So it has been able to just keep doing what it does, without seeming tired.

The Londoners can correct me if I'm getting my dates wrong but I think TRC opened at the time many well healed Londoners were buying villas in Tuscany, and many less well healed ones were taking regular vacations there. Therefore, the comparison wasn't and still isn't with other Italian restaurants in London but with Italian restaurants in Italy. I suspect London's French restaurants are better than New York's for similar reasons.

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