|Linguini with broad bean puree, mint and pecorino|
If you live in London and like your food, you already know about The River Cafe. The grand Nonna of simple, fresh, seasonal Italian dining in London has launched the careers of several of today's hot chefs. In its day, The River Cafe was revolutionary for its seasonal, twice daily changing menu and open kitchen. Today, it's still all very lovely even if it isn't as memorable for standing out above the fold of the new wave of Italian restaurants in London.
I've been twice now, for dinner in winter a couple of years ago, and for a summery lunch recently with some girlfriends.
After a girlishly pink Rossini (Prosecco with crushed strawberries), some antipasti plates were pretty as a picture - light, perfectly crunchy vegetable fritto misto, creamy prosciutto and bright and chirpy asparagus with lush buffalo mozzarella and greeny olive oil.
|Buffalo mozzarella with asparagus & olive oil|
My linguini with broad bean puree, cream, mint and pecorino was light and fresh, the pasta cooked just right. However, it did become a bit same same after a few bites. Same goes for the hand cut tagliatelle with a summery pomodoro sauce, although my friend's ravioli stuffed plumply with buffalo ricotta (and with - I think - marinated tomatoes and basil) was probably a highlight among the pastas.
You'll pay through the nose of course because it's The River Cafe (antipasti generally range from £15-£18, pastas at £15 and mains from £32 upwards). And you can't actually see the water from the restaurant, so don't make the schlepp to the middle of nowhere in Hammersmith expecting to have the Thames floating past your seat.
Our sommelier picked a great bottle of white to match our mood, but other than that nothing about the service leaves a lasting impression either way.
It's all very nice. But, as much as the loyalists won't like me saying it, for my money, I prefer Bocca di Lupo, Tinello, Trullo or Zucca. There, I said it.
The River Cafe, Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, Hammersmith, London W6 9HA (Tel: 020 7386 4200)