SPOTLIGHT ON The river Cafe
As the world famous Michelin-starred River Cafe celebrates 30 years in business, here are 15 things you ought to know about the Italian restaurant and its celebratory new cookbook, River Cafe 30...
1 River Cafe 30’s pages are edged luminous pink, to match the restaurant’s pizza oven. “We wanted to make a book that reflected not just the food we cook, but also the restaurant we have – the bright colours, the clear graphics,” says co-founder and chef Ruth Rogers, 69.
2 Writing the book was a joint effort – by Ruth, River Cafe head chefs Sian Wyn Owen and Joseph Trivelli. The late Rose Gray, River Cafe’s co-founder, is also credited.
3 Ruth calls the book a tribute to her partner of many years, Rose, who died from cancer in 2010. The pair met in 1969, and started The River Cafe in 1987.
4 The day the duo first saw the site that would become The River Cafe, they met at Drummonds in the Kings Road, which today is a Mcdonald’s. Ruth said: “You could say that The River Cafe was actually conceived in a Mcdonalds.”
5 River Cafe 30 owes a lot to Ruth and Rose’s debut cookbook. Ruth said: “We revisited the Blue book, the one we wrote in 1994. We thought, 25 years later, ‘how have these recipes changed?’ Or, ‘could we adapt them?’”
6 “Some of them are just perfect the way they were,” said Ruth, like the pressed chocolate cake and ricotta al forno.
7 Others take into account new cooking techniques and changing tastes. “There’s a new recipe for a hard pasta called mezze paccheri with langoustine and with pecorino – that’s so unusual to have a fish pasta with cheese,” said Ruth.
8 And some are ridiculously simple – like the blood orange sorbet with only three ingredients.
9 Turn straight to page 311 for ‘the crowning recipe’: “The chocolate nemesis,” said Ruth. “It’s such a strong flavour, the intensity of the chocolate. It’s creamy without cream. You put it in your mouth and it just melts.”
10 Flick through and you’ll find menus illustrated by famous names. Ruth said: “We approached artists who really have a close relationship with the restaurant and gave them the menus to do whatever they wanted with.” 11 Discover doodles by Cy Twombly, Damien Hirst and Ellsworth Kelly.
12 The restaurant celebrated turning 30 with a huge party, featuring 1,000 guests and a Ferris wheel.
13 Chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Theo Randall and April Bloomfield are all River Cafe alumni.
14 The restaurant has one of the best views of the Thames.
15 Ruth said: “We’ve created a restaurant with values that people love.”
river Cafe 30 by ruth rogers, sian wyn owen and Joseph Trivelli is published by ebury Press, priced £28
Chef and co-founder Ruth Rogers and left with head chefs Sian Wyn Owen and Joseph Trivelli