25 April 2013

Lunch at the River Café & VOC Punch House

I love it when it's sunny in London. Especially after a winter that feels like it's dragged on for months.

Caroline                 Lou
I was meeting Lou for lunch. We don't get to see each other particularly often so we always like to go somewhere a little bit special. Today we were off to the River Café in Hammersmith, one of London's most famous restaurants. It's been going strong for 25 years with a number of famous cookbooks to its name. Jamie Oliver trained here, y'know.

It also has a lovely outside dining area next to the river which was the main selling point for me. I was feeling summery!

Unfortunately by the time we arrived - having been dropped off by the taxi driver in the wrong place and fiddled around with Google maps for fifteen minutes - the day had become rather overcast and not quite the sunny day we'd hoped for. 

So we decided to take a table indoors.

The dining area is one bright open plan space with exposed kitchens, big wood fire oven and huge windows. 

The menu is handwritten (which made it a little difficult to read) and the ingredients always seasonal.

In typical Caz style, we started lunch with a cocktail. 
A perfectly mixed margarita for me.

And Lou went for the daiquiri which we thought looked and tasted exactly like the margarita. But we were assured it was a daiquiri. What do we know anyway?

Not long after we had ordered, our starters arrived. I'd gone for the Devon crab risotto with fresh tomatoes, Vermentino (a late-ripening white grape variety) and parsley.

The risotto was perfectly al dente with a satisfying amount of crab meat in there. The tomatoes were juicy and the sauce had a spicy zing to it. Really delicious (and filling!).

Lou had the Ravioli con Ortiche with nettles and buffalo ricotta.

What bright and beautiful plates of food. You can tell how fresh all the ingredients are just from the photographs.

For my main course I decided to have the spatchcocked wood-roasted Anjou pigeon served with roasted polenta and peas. Full of flavour and delicious. I thought the peas looked a bit like the bland kind you used to get served up with your school dinner. But they proved to be quite the opposite. 

Lou had the monkfish with anchovy and rosemary sauce, artichoke and trevise fritti (Italian vegetable fritters) and rocket.
They were a little heavy on the fritters but Lou really enjoyed it. 

So after all that did we still have room for dessert? 

Yes, of course we did!

So yummy.

We had a wonderful meal in a perfect lunchtime setting. The service was really friendly (although I think the waiter was a bit fed up with us when we were still at our table chatting at 5pm!). All these beautiful dishes and fresh ingredients do come at quite a price but I think the restaurant justifies it...otherwise I doubt it'd still be going so strong 25 years later.

Afterwards we headed to VOC Punch House in Kings Cross.

Billed as London's first 17th Century inspired bar, it specialises in barrel-aged drinks and bespoke designed cocktails which are aged in wax sealed bottles!  

Here I am with a Raspberry Scrub - Pampero Especial bottled with fresh lemon juice, sugar and fresh raspberries bottle matured for at least one week.

Now I've not heard of maturing cocktails before but there is definitely a lot of good to be said about it! This was fruity, tangy and fantastic! My favourite cocktail in quite some time.

You may have picked up from the photos that this bar wasn't very busy this particular evening. I can only think it was because everyone was enjoying the warm weather outside, which is fair enough - we don't get much of it here in London so we tend to lap it up while it lasts! 

But we were quite happy sipping cocktails on our own in this quirky, friendly little bar!

They are in the process of building an adjoining restaurant too so I think this place could get very popular. I will definitely be back for more bottle-aged cocktails!

River Cafe
Bar Service
Waiter Service

River Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. YUM!! You're right about the River Cafe, those photos say it all! So bright and fresh colours and some delicious sounding plates of food.
    I love the look of that bar, so Olde and Englishy! Imagine all the raucous drinking that's gone on there over the years....if only walls could speak!!
    x x

  2. The food looks so good, especially your friends' starter. Also, how amazing are your legs!!? :)

  3. This place looks lovely! I really like the interior decor too, the windows are so pretty. And your outfit is perfect for this time of year!xx

  4. You both look stunning in these pics and the food looks gorgeous too! xx



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