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the river café

January 21, 2010

some snapshots from our meal. the 3rd photo down is Carciofi alla Guidea, or roman, deep-fried whole flattened violetta artichokes (with sea salt + lemon — perfection). the photo of pasta includes a tagliatelle alla cacciatore (fresh pasta with ragu of rabbit, pork, pigeon, juniper,
nutmeg and chianti), and a simple pasta with slow-roasted tomatoes. the last photo is their chocolate nemesis cake, a well-known favorite (and worth every accolade, i must admit)

last weekend, my friends and i had the pleasure of dining at the famous river café here in london, owned by rose gray and ruth rogers.  this restaurant has been on my “to visit” list for years now … when i knew i was moving to london, i couldn’t wait to eat here. 

i’m no restaurant reviewer, so i’ll just say this: it was perfect.  the food is simple but made with the very best ingredients.  honest, unfussy, thoughtful cooking is my favorite sort; this restaurant has been an exercise in simplicity ever since it opened.  it is also the place where 3 of my favorite chefs got their start: jamie oliver, april bloomfield (of the spotted pig & the breslin in NYC), and hugh fearnley-whittingstall (the river cottage). it’s easy to see how they were influenced by this style of cooking and a respect for the best ingredients.

in addition to the above, we ate a crab appetizer, fish and lamb, plus a zippy lemon tart and some burnt caramel ice cream (they told us this dish is sent back the most, because it tastes exactly like burnt sugar and people aren’t ready for that – we thought it was well executed and we ate it all).

the space is warm and comfortable, the people-watching was excellent, and the entire experience feels like a real treat. i like that it’s not stuffy or overwrought. i could go on and on, but i will stop here. i hope to visit again in the summer, and sit outside for a few hours with a glass of wine and another one of those fried artichokes. mmm!

  1. January 21, 2010 11:23 am

    oh so good! let’s go there when i visit.

  2. January 21, 2010 11:24 am

    A perfect meal, especially simple straightforward fare like this, shared with good friends, is one of life’s great pleasures. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  3. January 21, 2010 11:28 am

    Oh dear…it all sound SO GOOD!
    You’re photos are gorgeous of course, but I am most intriguied at the addition of juniper to the pasta dish. Sounds delicious.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. January 21, 2010 11:31 am

    uh… jealous! I had pigeon in canterbury, it was aweseome!

  5. haeshu permalink
    January 21, 2010 11:34 am

    i had to read the food descriptions three times, they sounded so good.

  6. January 21, 2010 11:42 am

    sounds amazing, I’ve never eaten there. have you made it to st. john yet? I’m looking forward to hear what you think.
    as always, your pictures make me miss london so much!

  7. January 21, 2010 12:22 pm

    Oh, definitely on my wish-to-visit list. Thank you for sharing with us!

  8. January 21, 2010 1:26 pm

    I need to go there… remember a great piece in jamie mag about river cafe from some time ago. I’m also interested in your opinion about st john, if you’ll ever visit. I live a couple minutes from the restaurant but for some reason never been there…
    you have no idea how much more I’ve been enjoying your site now that you’re in london ;)

  9. January 21, 2010 1:34 pm

    Incred pics of what sounds like an incred night. I love that first one with the waiter in action – you just get better and better at capturing the moments! STILL on my list!!

  10. January 21, 2010 1:51 pm

    fantastic. i love this place.

  11. January 21, 2010 2:34 pm

    wow! what a meal! that first picture is unbelievable. i love it!

  12. January 21, 2010 4:39 pm

    oh, I’ve never been there, though I’ve always wanted to. Time to make the effort I think…

  13. January 21, 2010 6:37 pm

    maybe you should get a night job as a restaurant reviewer! you always make me want to visit the places you write about immediately. you could do the writing and the photos! just a thought…

  14. January 21, 2010 7:59 pm

    this place looks perfect:)

  15. January 22, 2010 12:17 pm

    Oh Brian…how mouthwatering : )..
    I have been to the River Café in November when I was in London…oh my it was good…
    We shared the pannacotta and the chocolate cake for dessert….it is such an amazing place…

  16. January 22, 2010 4:48 pm

    sounds divine.

  17. January 22, 2010 5:12 pm

    Dinner was really fun, let’s meet up again when you have time. Your description of River Cafe has convinced me that I need to go there. I don’t know if I can wait for my birthday, I might need
    to get there sooner!

  18. January 23, 2010 3:51 pm

    I’ve always wanted to visit the River Café, and I have their cookbook, which is photographed beautifully, of course. Your meal looks like your photography … honest, simple, amazing!

  19. Sharmila permalink
    January 24, 2010 12:43 pm

    That first photo in this set had me entranced and I’m mesmerized b that shadow clock. Your photos have captured the essence of your visit. Beautiful!

  20. Juggling Motherhood permalink
    January 26, 2010 5:15 am

    I recently went to a restaurant that used the same table lighting…I loved how all the tables were lit, even though no one was on them…it just added to the atmosphere…beautiful photos!

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