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A la Colthard / The River Cafe

The River Cafe, once the in-house cafeteria of architect Lord Rogers and owned by his wife Ruth, has been going strong since its launch in 1987 which is kinda surprising given its high prices and inconvenient location in that no-man’s -land between Hammersmith and Fulham Football Club.

I went there yesterday for a regular lunch with an old pal who is a heavy hitter in the advertising game. He got married there when they served sea bass which out of deference to him I always choose.

Sadly there was none on the menu yesterday so I opted for wild turbot – a mere £43. Six pieces of raviolini were melt in the mouth but at £22 they should be. I always like their Campari and blood orange but the first was served with plain orange juice so I ordered a second which with my companion’s 2 Grey Geese and a bottle of Vino Nobile Maestro put another 100 sovs on the bill.

Yet I have to say I enjoyed it thoroughly. Whilst there is a definite buzz, the noise does not drown the conversation. On the adjoining table sat Tim Rice who had brought along some cricket books to sign. He did not pick up the bill which prompted an interesting discussion on our table on famous people’s reluctance to pay. A friend of mine – a DJ – once told me that, if you want to get an autograph at a charity dinner with celebrities, go to the loo at the auction as they all hang out there to avoid it.

For me £282 is one hell of lot of money for a meal for two. There is no point in justifying this but rather to think that we had celebrated our birthdays which fall within a month of each other’s and we had eaten and drunk extremely well in a top notch ambience with fine Italian food and service.

Many if not most fashionable Italian restaurants have fallen by the wayside since 1987.

I can only think of la Famiglia that is also still going and that restaurant benefits from a garden whilst the River Cafe has its river frontage. Perhaps it shows most of all that it has a core clientele of diners who can and will pay for a restaurant that meets all the standards of top class gastronomy.

Daphne Colthard
About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts