Culture

Go With The Flow: London's Dining Gems By The Thames

Riverside dining is where it’s at, here’s The Stack’s guide to our favourite watering holes with the best river views in the capital

By Emma-Louise Boynton

31 May 2021
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Ideal for date nights, Melusine is tucked away down a cobbled street in St Katherine Docks.

Melusine, Tower Bridge

Why it’s excellent

Head to St Katharine Docks on a balmy, spring afternoon and you’ll feel immediately transported to a Hvar waterfront, your holiday scene complete with the string of gleaming yachts that line the marina. A row of small bars and restaurants are dotted along the water’s edge, attracting chic Parisian-types who seem to congregate over gossip and aperitivos. But tucked away down a cobbled side street is the jewel in this riverside crown – Melusine.

Founded by Greek chef Theodore Kyriakou (the brains behind Livebait, once one of the hottest fish restaurants of its time) and Wade Mundford (the former manager at The Greek Larder, where Kyriakou and he first met), Melusine has a pared-back charm, a delicious menu of fresh, sustainably-sourced fish dishes and a wine list to go with it.

When to go

A first date. After a year of lockdown-induced romantic deprivation, why not ratchet up the bougie on date-night numero uno with a riverside rendezvous – champagne and oysters-style? Grab a table by the water and accept the waiter’s offer of a blanket when you sit down. Get cosy.

What to order

Oysters, obviously, and a bottle of their Goring Blanc De Blanc sparkling wine, which is made in Sussex. Proceed to cram your modest table with an array of small plates to share including the picked crab, apple, chilli and ginger salad; razor clams; taramosalata, with Jerusalem artichoke crisp, radish and pea shoots; the crab risotto and the scallops carrot purée and pomegranate. The mackerel is good too, but a little potent for a first date.

Something you’ll want to know

The Melusine is named after a Mermaid-like spirit or water fairy popularised in European folklore.

Book here

Recently taken over by 2013 Materchef winner, Steven Edwards, Bingham Riverhouse offers a delicious seven-course tasting menu for those wanting to indulge.
Image by Bingham Riverhouse.

Bingham Riverhouse, Richmond

Why it’s excellent

Steven Edwards, the 2013 winner of Masterchef, recently took over the restaurant at the Bingham Riverhouse hotel following the success of his Hove restaurant, Etch, which has received rave reviews since it first opened its doors in 2017.

Under Edwards’ tutelage, the Bingham offers weekly changing tasting menus centred on seasonal British food and local produce. The hotel’s exquisite gardens, which spill out onto the river, offer the ideal backdrop to Bingham's gastronomic tour de Britain.

When to go

For a long lunch with that group of friends you’re desperate to catch up with and with whom you can delight in a variety of artfully presented, posh dishes.

What to order

Go all-in and opt for the seven-course tasting menu for £75 (a five-course alternative for £55 is also available), which starts with a mint broccoli soup and then takes you from a butter roast turbot to a particularly succulent roasted duck breast followed by slow-cooked duck egg yolk.

The alpaca 66% dark chocolate dessert with croissant ice cream is necessarily indulgent and delicious. If you want to take your riverside tasting excursion up a notch, get the seven-course wine experience too. For £90 per person, each dish will be matched expertly by the restaurant’s sommelier.

Something you’ll want to know

At age 26, Steven Edwards was one of the youngest contestants to ever win Masterchef. Unsurprising perhaps, given he was trained up by some of the country’s leading chefs, including Raymond Blanc, Andrew McNaughton and Chris Wheeler.

Book here

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The River Café.

The River Café, Hammersmith

Why it’s excellent

The purveyor of some of London’s finest Italian cuisine since 1987, the River Café’s Michelin-starred reputation precedes it.

A longtime magnet for famous London faces and political grandees alike, the River Café can be credited for nurturing the culinary prowess of the likes of Jamie Oliver, April Bloomfield and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and is the perfect place to dine alfresco on a balmy summer afternoon. Grab a much sought-after seat on the riverside terrace and soak up its Edenic beauty while tucking into a crisp glass of white wine.

When to go

For an occasion. Anytime you can “reasonably” justify spending more than £23 on your antipasti alone.

What to order

It would feel remiss going to the home of elevated Italian cooking and not beginning your bouffage with an antipasto of rich Mozzarella di Bufala, and the white asparagus (it’s currently in season and served with a delicious anchovy butter and parmasean) followed by a bowl of Spaghetti alle vongole. Share the spaghetti with your fellow diner to save room for the Branzino al forno (wild sea bass roasted in Terlano Pinot Bianco) for your main.

Do not even think about forgoing dessert, for which the restaurant’s famed Chocolate Nemesis is a must, as is the lemon tart, oh, and the tiramisu.

Something you’ll want to know

The River Café was founded by Ruth Rogers, 72, and the late Rose Gray, who quickly were among the most influential women in food. Rogers remains at the forefront of the business and, over lockdown, could be found fielding calls, writing labels and giving her opinion on new dishes while organising the restaurant’s new online shop.

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Set in a restored, 16th-century public house, the Mayflower is perfect for a hearty roast with a river view. Image by Alice Whiley.

The Mayflower Pub, Rotherhithe

Why it’s excellent

If a hearty roast in an old-fashioned British pub is what you’re after, this Thameside pub is hard to beat. Surrounded by cobbled streets, the Mayflower is set in a restored, 16th-century public house with dark timber beams, low ceilings and walls strewn with paintings and artefacts that pay homage to the pub’s nautical roots.

As a blue plaque on the outside of the building commemorates, the Mayflower set out in 1620 on an epic voyage from Rotherhithe to America, eventually anchoring in Cape Cod. As you step onto the pub’s decked jetty and revel in the expansive river view, imagine the thrill that must have reverberated through onlookers as the Mayflower returned to its home port in Rotherhithe the following year.

When to go

On a drippy, dank Sunday afternoon armed with a book or your weekend papers.

What to order

A Sunday roast with all the accoutrements (seasonal veg, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and gravy) and a glass of the Malbec.

Something you’ll want to know:

If you happen to have a familial connection to the original Pilgrim Fathers from the Mayflower 1620 voyage and can prove it, you can request The Mayflower Descendants, a book that you can sign and in which you can share some family details. Lucky are those who get to flick through this small slice of history one drizzly afternoon.

Book here

Why not ratchet up the bougie on date-night numero uno with a riverside rendezvous – champagne and oysters-style?
Image by Amadeusz Misiak

The Short Stack

Whether it’s a hearty roast or a rich antipasto you’re after, do it by the river. Here is The Stack’s guide of gems by the Thames to book now.

By Emma-Louise Boynton

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