The River Café
Monday 20 May 2013


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The River Cafe opened in 1987.  Inspired and influenced by the experience of living and cooking in Italy, Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers created one of the world's most celebrated restaurants and throughout the last 22 years have continued to emphasise the importance of seasonal ingredients, robust flavours and regional Italian cooking.

Originally, the River Cafe was conceived deliberately along domestic lines, with a small open kitchen and a menu changing with every meal, with the unconventional idea that all staff, including waiters and kitchen porters, should be involved in the preparation of the food - a practice which continues today.

In 1994 the River Cafe was re-designed to expand into a larger space, with a traditional wood burning oven at its heart.

In the spring of 2008, the River Cafe engaged Stuart Forbes Associates to re-design the restaurant, which again for the second time in the life of the business was being enhanced by additional area.

The kitchen is completely open to the dining room with no dividing walls, enabling diners to observe chefs in action.  Centre of focus is a new wood burning oven, manufactured by the Valoriani, and made in Tuscany.  Significant additions also include a kitchen table within the working kitchen zone and private dining room with a glass enclosed cheese room, which is based on a classic Italian design.  The reception desk and ‘pass' have been constructed of vivid yellow ‘LG HI-MACS' and dramatically top-lit.  This new area is located next to The River Café bar, which has been adapted and enhanced with a new back-lit bottle display.  The new bathrooms have been re-planned and constructed, using high gloss laminates and fluorescent primary colours.

Since the re-launch in September 2008, the restaurant has enjoyed the acclaim of the world's food critiques and architectural press, and continues to be one of the most influential food establishments.

"The dynamic relationship between the chefs, the kitchen and the public is the focal point of the design" says Stuart Forbes.


Stuart Forbes Associates