Archive for the 'The River Café (2)' Category

The River Café (The Return), London

I can boast that when the River Café reopened after its recent renovation back in October, I was one of the earliest through the door (…who wrote about it). It was in fact Fay who first started (softly) singing its praises, but soon the decibel level was decidedly higher and climbing as consecutive visits from many of the Capital’s foodies produced flattering critiques. From AA Gill to Dos Hermanos, all agreed that the food was good, very good.

When Ulterior Epicure enquired which restaurants he ought to try whilst in London, the River Café was always on the shortlist although it was not until almost the last minute that we definitely decided we just had to dine there. However, our dilly dallying nearly worked against us. Thanks partly to all that earlier-referred-to eulogy, the restaurant is always full and reservations can be hard to come by. But tonight, fortune smiled on us.

The River Cafe - Il Menu

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The River Café, London


Ask anyone to name London’s top Italian restaurant and general consensus would suggest either Locanda Locatelli, Zafferano or the River Café. Regular readers should might have already read my reviews of the first two and have probably been waiting some time, as have I, for that inevitable visit to the River Café. Well, after many months – six to be certain – I am able to finally fulfil my gastronomic responsibility and complete my Grand Tour of London’s la Santissima Trinità.

Why the wait? A fatty steak. During dinner service on Saturday, 5 April, when cooking bistecca alla Fiorentina, ‘some flaring vapours got caught in the flue,’ causing the open grill to ‘explode like a jet plane.’ The forced shutting required for repair was viewed a good excuse for a refit and thus the River Café remained closed until a couple of weeks ago when, like a phoenix, it arose from its own ashes. The owners decided to take advantage of the interval and insurance money – used to cover staff salaries – spending the summer in Italy with their chefs, mastering new recipes, and sending people to work with suppliers and other restaurants – some, for example, worked at La Fromagerie, being taught how to look after cheese; others went to Specogna, a family-run winery in Northern Italy; whilst a few were sent to San Daniele near Venice to learn about prosciutto. A series of charitable projects were undertaken too: disabled kids helped build a vegetable garden in the former-dining-room-cum-greenhouse, later cooking with the very legumes of their labours; while a group of female chefs visited a women’s refuge.
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