Harden's survey result
“An amazing place that’s still full on a midweek winter evening after 30 years” – Hammersmith’s world-famous, riverside Italian shows no sign of running out of steam: “it still feels fresh and contemporary”, “Ruthie Rogers herself is still there doing some of the cooking”, and it remains a standard-bearer for “the simplicity and clarity” of its Tuscan cuisine. The perennial elephant in the room here is “wallet-busting” prices, which regularly win this W6 legend the survey’s booby prize as London’s Most Overpriced Restaurant. Even so, most reporters are inclined to be forgiving: they “love the place despite the absurd cost”, particularly those who appreciate “the very best, carefully sourced ingredients”; who adore the “helpful staff”; or who acclaim “the glorious outside terrace in summer”, which “can’t be matched”. A sizeable minority, though, “know all the arguments as to why the place is worth it… but don’t agree”. A prime gripe for those who feel the most taken for a ride is the “crazy bills you get for sitting in what’s basically a big canteen”: while fans applaud this egalitarian set-up as “a perfect mix between formality and informality”, the less charitable find it “noisy” and “crammed in” (“my chair was frequently banged into by waiters squeezing past”).
“The sheer genius and simplicity of always-exciting Tuscan food prepared from ingredients of unparalleled quality” have won global renown for this “unique”, “off-the-beaten-track Italian, in the obscure backstreets of Hammersmith. Its prices, however, are “daylight robbery” – and while its army of fans say that “if you believe it’s overpriced, you don’t get its concept of provenance, care and integrity”, an equally large band of sceptics “appreciate the top-quality sourcing, but still think charges are absurd for rustic dishes (it might be cheaper to fly to Italy for the day, dine and fly back...”). And the atmosphere? “On a summer evening you could not ask for a better location” than its Thames-side terrace, but when it comes to eating inside first-timers can be surprised at how “hectic and noisy” its canteen-like set-up can be; service meanwhile veers from “charming” to “indifferent”. Still, it’s always full, so you can’t blame them” and “if I was a billionaire I’d go every week!”
“So special, but also so nose-bleedingly expensive” – that’s the perennial trade-off at Ruth Rogers’s world-famous café, whose celebrity is totally at odds with its backstreet Hammersmith location, in a Thames-side wharf shared with hubbie Lord Richard Roger’s architectural practice (till the latter moved this year). For its many advocates, it’s “the holy grail of restaurants” featuring “phenomenal ingredients” (a “true definition of provenance and quality”) on “an ever-changing menu” displaying both “simplicity and complexity”; and all this delivered in a “light and buzzing”, “minimalist warehouse-style dining room” next to a riverside terrace that’s “stunning on a sunny day”. On the downside, service can be “smug”, and even those sold on its virtues often leave feeling the prices make it “a glaring con”: “it’s good, but with this price point attached, it’s such a poor representation of the heart, passion and grass roots of Italian cooking, and when you get the bill, you just feel nothing is worth this much!” (Plans for a new Mayfair branch are currently on hold.)
“Eye-wateringly expensive, but brilliant”, say disciples of this world-famous Italian café (part of a Thames-side wharf in a Hammersmith backwater), for whom the “sophistication” of the “freshest ingredients prepared for maximum flavour” have long put it “in a league of its own” (especially outside on a sunny day). “Cramped” conditions and “brusque” service can “leave a lot to be desired” however, and there are many, many sceptics who – though not disputing that the grub’s good – say prices are just “insane for a bit of al dente pasta”.
The River Café Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Ok, its expensive, hard to reserve a table and off the beaten track . But if there is a better Italian restaurant in London we don't know it . They could put the outrageous prices up further and it would still be full because after 30 plus years it is still the best and every visit is a treat."
"If you want foams and fireworks for nosebleed prices then this is not your place. If you are looking for brilliantly sourced and cooked food for nosebleed prices then this is your place. Staff and service informal and charming. Room can’t be beat on a summers day."
"Best Italian restaurant outside of London."
"Very expensive for what it is."
"Had the set lunch which is very good value compared with their normal prices!"
"A stunning space with river views and faithfully preserved 90s chic, and deliciously full flavoured Italian cuisine, however prices are punishing unless you go for the set menu..."
"Dependably brilliant. A beautiful, retro dining room that's always packed. Exceptional food. Crazy prices. But there's nowhere that compares."
"Not cheap but worth it. Friendly, engaging service. A sophisticated tase of Italy"
|Wine per bottle||£33.00|
Thames Wharf, Rainville Rd, London, W6 9HA
|Monday||12:30 pm-11 pm|
|Tuesday||12:30 pm-11 pm|
|Wednesday||12:30 pm-11 pm|
|Thursday||12:30 pm-11 pm|
|Friday||12:30 pm-11 pm|
|Saturday||12:30 pm-11 pm|
|Sunday||12 pm-5:30 pm|