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Sep 6, 2006 03:55 PM

The River Cafe

I'm curious as to what Londoners think of The River Cafe? Is it all hype (overrated)? Touristy?

We'll be visiting from NYC in October and my BF (a chef who's currently cooking Italian) is interested. He's heard some good things from his boss and others in his company. I thought I'd read some negative comments though.

Is it better to just go for lunch? Or skip it altogether? I just want be sure we don't make a mistake because the dollar exchange is so poor now (thanks George.)

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  1. My new Harden's London Restaurants 2007 arrived today. I find them pretty spot on with their reviews. Their rating system is 1-5, 1 being exceptional 5 being poor. They gave it a 2 for food 3's for service and atmosphere and say people are "gob-smacked" by the stratospheric prices. The say the food is simple made divine by great ingredients. They also say dinner of 3 courses and a half carafe of wine and coffee will average about $116.82 each.

    We are going in October too. 10/11-10/19. I am counting down the days.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Candy

      How come you got your copy of the Harden's guide so early? I send in reviews every year, and get mine in about November ...

      1. re: Theresa

        I went to their site a week ago and just ordered it. They were offering it then, I checked Amazon UK and they indicated it was not available yet but the HArdens site has it available and ready to go.

    2. the river cafe is uninteresting to the point of being bad. zippo soul.

      it is hyped beyond belief. for the price, fly ryan air to rome in the morning, eat a spectacular lunch and fly back. seriously.

      1 Reply
      1. re: howler

        That may not be such a bad suggestion. And it'll probably work out cheaper. I'm looking at a RC menu and it's WAY expensive, for a) portion size, and b) quality. Very, very, VERY over-hyped. Oh, and they're kinda New York snippy.


      2. When it first opened it was great. Now seems tired. Also, a bit of a hike from downtown London. Would skip.

        Try Zefferano's for high end italian (if you can get in).

        Tip: Try the revamped casual restaurant in the Mandarin Hotel if you are in the Knightsbridge area. They have sort of an asian/chinese slant but the food is stellar. They changed the concept in May and its really good. The chef who operates the 1 star michelin restaurant at the hotel oversees this too.

        1. Okay, the River Cafe is expensive, and there is no doubt that a trip to Italy would be of far more interest to a chef cooking Italian, not to mention cheaper. Nevertheless, if you are in London, then you could do a lot worse.

          These days people seem to relate the value of a meal to amount the food has been manipulated; think Molecular Gastronomy. The River Cafe does ingredient based cooking and the vision of such and such a chef is sidelined in favour of a more traditional approach. There's obviously not as much to say about a perfectly cooked Cep risotto as there is about something cooked in liquid nitrogen, but this doesn't mean that there's not as much to enjoy.

          I say give it a go.

          1. Thanks guys!

            We're still tossing the idea around. If we do go it will be for lunch.

            Obviously it's not imperative that we have Italian food while in London, what with us coming from NYC. There's no shortage of great Italian restaurants here.

            As far as the style of cooking, I prefer ingredient based. Cooking with something like liquid nitrogen is something we'd probably consider gimmicky and maybe stay away from.

            I'll be researching this board over the next few day for additional ideas and will post again with a short list. Hopefully you British hounds can help me narrow it down without breaking the bank!