This is a place I had long wondered about. A guy down the street at the Duck told me that liked the place, but that the food at the Duck is "better". A quick stop in confirmed the man's opinion.
The crowd at River House is definitely better. On the one day of my life that I decided to wear a drug-addled counterculture tee-shirt, I entered and discovered that everyone, literally, was wearing white shirts, ties, and in most cases, suits. It's been years since I felt so out of place! This restaurant, it turns out, makes a cottabe industry of selling drinks and lunches to the many people who push corporate paper in the surrounding office buildings, both during and after work hours. I can tell you if I worked in the area I would be at the bar at River house probably 3 times a day, but maybe that's why I don't work in the area:)!
To his great credit, our waiter seated us with class and kindness and was super attentive throughout, an enormous distinction from the Duck, where the wait staff is often busy breaking thumbs out back, or on the phone with their bail-bondsmen (NOT FAIR, just kidding but if you know them it's a funny comment:).
River House is expensive. The burger with cheese and bacon is under 15 bucks, but fries are 4 bucks extra! Most of the primo seafood entrees are in the mid-high 20's. Steaks are 30 and higher.
I started with a real throwback dish, iceberg salad with blue cheese, bacon and red onion. It was FANTASTIC, 11 bucks.
My dining companion ordered the French onion soup. The one at the Duck, she said, was better.
My salad however was much better than any salad at the duck.
The burger aspires to, but fails to achieve, true burger greatness. It IS Black Angus beef. It DOES come on a really nice roll, much better roll than the hard rolls at you-know-where. And the burger tasted very nice, not a hundred percent fresh and fantastic but maybe 95 percent...
bacon, cheese all in order, a little tomato and lettuce
The burger was enormous, it had a lot of interesting things going on, it did have pretentions toward other more vaunted burgers, some of which are nearby, and some of which are served in much friendlier, much hipper surroundings, but in the end, it did not have the truly awesome beefy flavor that the best area burgers have.
My mysterious dining companion ordered linguini with mushrooms in a cheese sauce, 19 bucks. It was was gianormous, and tasted pretty good, but it's a case where, you wish they had a half portion for less money. It was just huge. I would have killed a dishwasher or two for a half portion at 12 bucks.
A word should be said about the fact that the bar and the interior are super nice, white, clean lines, huge glass fronting the river for real, it's a much better view than the Duck. And of course, the upscale, well dressed working women from the area likewise provide a vastly better view...
In the end though, I WILL return to the River House for one simple reason. It seems like a really good place to pick up women:)