The River Cafe opened in 1987, the same year the very first Zelda game was released on the NES, and when Michael Jackson was, you know, alive. In those days, a Pret would have seemed positively space-age and the only chef on TV was Keith Floyd. The River Cafe was literally one of a handful of good London restaurants back then. And we’re happy to say that after all these years it’s still one of the best places to eat in town.
It’s important to know that The River Cafe literally wrote the book on tasteful, authentic Italian food - seriously, look on your mum’s bookshelf. It isn’t Italian food through a British lens, but might be something you would eat on a dream holiday in Italy, but in Hammersmith. Jamie Oliver caught his break here, and whether you curse or celebrate his existence, you can’t deny his impact on the London (and global) food scene.
Unfortunately, all that pedigree comes with a price. This place is so expensive that a single chair in this dining room probably costs more than your entire flat. That can be intimidating for sure, but the riverside location and atmosphere make it feel more casual than you’d expect. You’ll wince at paying 20 quid for a starter, but like a good Nintendo binge for any self-respecting adult, it’s a once-a-year kind of treat.