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Restaurants & Bars 4

London's River Cafe

steve h. | Oct 23, 2005 04:17 PM

Celebrated my wife's birthday there last week. Let the record show that the restaurant is in the middle of nowhere (Hammersmith). Still, if you can find the place at night, during a driving rain, while mad Chelsea fans are playing bumper cars to get to the venue, then you will be well rewarded.

I started with the grilled squid. It was a generous portion, properly cooked and accented with red chilli. The martini I had while waiting for this dish expertly prepared me for the clean taste of the calamari. My wife enjoyed the mozzarella di bufala with violetta artichoke (outstanding), spinach, oil, lemon and marinated Taggiasche olives.

Our shared primo was a tagliatelle (house made) with fresh porcini, parsley, butter and parmesan. This was a wonderful dish that let the flavors of the individual ingredients speak clearly.

My secondo was a wild sea bass baked in a bag with fresh porcini, thyme, vermouth and Italian spinach. Maybe the best baked sea bass I've ever had. Whole Dover sole for the wife: it was wood-roasted with capers and marjoram, braised cicoria and roasted squash. She expertly dissected her sogliola al forno, won the praise of the wait staff and declared the fish "superb." I was impressed.

Cheese, fruit and nuts followed by espresso capped this excellent meal.

Service was both attentive and enthusiastic. The more questions we asked, the more involved and animated our waiter became. This, in turn, seemed to have a positive impact on the other servers.

At the end, drinks, wine, tax and tip ran GBP 200. Taxi back to Holborn was another GBP 20. The meal was fun and well worth the tab. We'll be back.

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