30 September 2015

Our anniversary meal at the River Cafè

Possibly cheaper than an eternity ring

If you follow my blog, you'll know that I had a rather fabulous wedding in Tuscany, Italy in 2014. For our wedding anniversary this year, rather than get each other presents, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at the Hammersmith based Italian restaurant, the River Cafe
Enjoying an Aperol Spritz
at the bar

We've wanted to go there ever since we watched a TV programme featuring all the celeb chefs who earned their wings there including Theo Randall, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. And, we thought we deserved a treat since we'd been setting up our new business and we'd barely left the house since our son was born. Essentially, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to reminisce about being a carefree couple in Italy before life got serious and we got responsibilities. 

Adam with the restaurant
behind him. You can just see the
big, pink pizza oven!

So we packed our son off to his Nonna and got the train up to the big smoke. 

Although it was mid September, we were lucky enough to have a really warm day. So, after a drink at the bar (an Aperol Spritz of course as that's what we had at our wedding), we decided to sit outside in the sunshine over looking the Thames.

We were so lucky to be able to
sit on the terrace in the sun

Inside, the restaurant was very open plan and industrial but with a huge, pink Pizza Oven right in the middle. Outside, the tables were simple, no fuss with the brick warehouse buildings to the side and the Thames out front setting the scene. We were surrounded by very chic, elegant looking couples and families dining in the sunshine. All oozing effortless class and making us feel very colloquial. Even the perfectly dressed children seemed perfectly at home, ordering the char grilled squid with chilli or risotto with clams without blinking an eyelid.
My Rabbit Pappadelle.
The nicest thing I've
ever eaten

The menu itself was fairly simple. Just a couple of printed sheets of paper with a concise list of antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci. We'd poured over the sample menu on the train to decide what to have and then the menu was completely different when we got there. Different, but better.

To start, we both had rabbit and fennel pappardelle. I ordered this because it reminded me of the most delicious rabbit pasta I'd had at a restaurant called Trattoria Chiribiri in San Gimignano when we'd visited prior to getting married nearby. Up until that meal, that was the best pasta I'd ever tasted. Until the River Cafè. Now, that is the best pasta I've ever tasted. It was nothing over elaborate and looking at it you might not think it to be that special. However, it was an absolutely dream on the palate and the balance of flavours was just perfect. I could have eaten five plates of it.
My white fish with clams

For main, my husband had the Grouse which he really enjoyed and was served with the most amazing, buttery pumpkin. I chose a clam and white fish main with Swiss chard- yum. To follow, I had my staple favourite, Affogato with Espresso and Adam had a selection of cheeses (his staple favourite). 

A sommelier offered to help us select wines to match our meal. And, the sophisticated couple at the table next to ours did just that and had a different wine matched to each course and dish. However, we were on a trip down memory lane and when it came to the Tuscany memory lane, it had to be a Chianti. We ordered the Fontodi Chianti Classico 2012 which I know was completely too strong for all of my dishes, but I didn't care. It was absolutely delicious and we enjoyed every last drop of the two bottles we ordered.
Probably completely
wrong for our meal. But
completely delicious

And, to top it off, halfway through our main course, a couple arrived to have their wedding reception on the lawn in front of us. It couldn't have been more fitting. 

The River Cafè often gets criticised because of it's hefty prices. And, don't get me wrong, it was expensive (although no-one around us appeared to be looking at the prices). But was it worth it? Absolutely. The staff couldn't have been nicer. They were really friendly and helpful even though we were obvious paupers compared to the other clientèle. We even got a free scoop of ice-cream with "Happy Anniversary" written around it in chocolate. 
A nice touch from the

Maybe it was the copious amounts of wine we consumed. Maybe it was being 85 miles away from my baby. Maybe it was the September sunshine. But, the whole day was just perfect.

As my husband said, if we were rich, we'd eat there every weekend. However, we are not rich, so it might be some time before we are able to go back. Until then, I'll lick my lips over that rabbit pappardelle. 

2 September 2015

Bring on the Barons - an update!

My favourite Baron
After originally writing about the Salisbury Baron Trail in June, I have now, finally found all of the Barons! 

There are 25 in total. And, although you can download a map online, I wanted to try and find all of them myself by simply stumbling across them. However, I've kind of been really busy since then setting up my business so I haven't been to many places to come across the Barons.

Well, today, I finally found the last three! And, I got to hang out at Salisbury fire station. So a double reward.

If you want to go and find the Barons, then they are hanging around until Sunday 6th September when they will all be auctioned off in aid of the Trussell Trust.

Each of the Baron sculptures are decorated by a different artist. I think my favourite one is called "Astro Baron" and is outside the Salisbury Museum. It's decorated by Jenny Leonard and it's modern, space-age theme means it really stands out in its historical setting.

My son playing in the light installations
Although not part of the Barons' trail, I didn't mention the Salisbury Cathedral light installations in my last blog. They are also on display as part of the Magna Carta celebrations so go hand in hand with the Barons' Trail. The interactive Enlightenment which, although has a ridiculous name, is really fun and great for kids and babies to have a sensory experience. It's going to be on display until 7th September too.

So, if you haven't seen any of the Barons or the light installations yet, get yourself down to Salisbury. According to my BBC iPhone app, its going to be quite nice in Salisbury over that weekend.

To read my original article, click here.