A few weeks ago it was my flatmate’s birthday so we decided to celebrate this special day together the only way we could think possible….over good food!! We are both real foodies so for her actual birthday night I got us a booking at one of London’s top Italian restaurants that had been on our to-go-to list for a while but warrented a special occasion and this was certainly a perfectly good reason to spoil ourselves to a lovely evening out!
The River Café is located along the north bank of the London Thames near Hammersmith and Fulham and was set up by acclaimed British chef and cookery writer Rose Gray (together with Ruth Rogers) in 1987. Since then the restaurant has become a bit of a London institution for its simple, unpretentious but delicious flavours of Italian home cooking with an emphasis on the finest ingredients. The restaurant earned a Michelin star in 1997 and is also known as a breeding ground for a number for successful chefs that have trained in its kitchen; Jamie Oliver, Sam and Sam Clark of Moro and Ed Baines of Randall & Aubin; just to name a few!
The restaurant is a not an easy find, being a bit hidden off the main roads but well worth finding because when you arrive you are bound to love the outdoor garden terrace
(which we decided deserves a re-visit for a sunny outdoor weekend lunch sometime this summer!) and the stunning view overlooking the Thames.
Here is the birthday girl overlooking the river by a pretty spring sunset!
I have to say from the moment we walked into the restaurant we were wowed by the customer service of the super friendly and helpful staff. The restaurant has incorporated the bar, dining area and kitchen area into one big space housed in a warehouse. I loved the modern, fresh and light interior and felt the place had a great buzzy atmosphere!
The menus at the River Café change twice daily to respond to the seasons and what is best in the market, with simplicity being key to their food. Signature dishes include the wild mushroom risotto; Dover sole and John Dory smoked in the restaurant’s own wood stove, plus the must have rich Italian desserts including lemon almond cake or the chocolate “Nemesis” cake (but more on that later…)
Now onto the menu for that day…
Each menu is is set out in a traditional Italian way with antipasti, primi, secondi, i formaggi and dolce e gelati. Each dish looked so mouth watering..we definitely took a while to decide what to order on the menu, we wanted to try everything!
But first things first…… a prosecco to toast to the birthday gal :)
Washed down with beautiful home cooked bread and their own to-die-for olive oil!
We decided to share two entrees….
The antipasti with the most amazing mozzarella I’ve ever tasted. It just melted in my mouth!
And char grilled scottish scallops with fresh chilli and rocket and broad bean salad.
For the mains I had the grilled Sea Bass and my flatmate the perfectly cooked lamb.
All the food was delicious and let’s say those plates left our table sparkling clean hehe. It just proves how very simple ingredients can make the most amazing meals.
Then even though we were pretty stuffed after all that food, we just HAD to make room for dessert:
1) it was her birthday
2) their signature dish the ‘Chocolate Nemesis’ sounded too good to resist and
3) we are both huge dessert lovers and we are often heard saying ‘there is always room in that seperate compartment of your stomach, reserved just for dessert’ ;)
I had told the restaurant it was her birthday so they were very sweet and brought the dessert out with a candle and Happy Birthday written on the plate! ♥
This was truly a spectacular cake! It is part flour-less chocolate cake and part melt in your mouth chocolate mousse..nommmmmmm. It’s light, fluffy and incredibly moist but definitely very chocolately and filling at the same time. I am glad we shared this dessert because we couldn’t have had a whole piece of this indulgent cake after our dinner. I loved this dessert so much that I tracked down the recipe to try to re-create this epic cake for a dinner party some time to wow my guests socks of with!
Here is the recipe if you want to give it a whirl yourself and please do let me know how you get on :)
The River Café’s Chocolate Nemesis (serves 10-12)
675g dark chocolate (70%)
10 whole eggs
675g caster sugar
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bain marie. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line a 27cm springform cake tin with foil.
Beat together the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer for five minutes until they’ve quadrupled in volume. Fold the chocolate and butter mixture into the eggs and sugar and stir thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
Place the cake in a large roasting tin in the oven, then pour enough boiling water into the tin to rise 3/4 up the side of the cake. Cook in the preheated oven for over an hour, then turn the oven off and allow to cool completely before removing. Serve with crème fraiche.
Make a wish birthday girl :)
We had an amazing evening and it’s definitely one of those restaurants that makes you want to get a 150-hours-a-week job as an investment banker, just so you can afford to eat here every day!
The River Café
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA
020 7386 4200
Hear hear Julia!
“It’s fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day.
That’s what human life is all about..Enjoying things” ~ Julia Child
Happy Hump Day everyone! xoxo