Food24 eats at... River Café

Chef Caro de Waal samples the winter menu.

19 Jul 2010
river cafe

The setting
In the evening, River Café transforms from a bustling garden restaurant into an intimate diners paradise with a roaring fire and inviting ambience. Set aside from the rest of the restaurant, one smaller room of 10-12 tables is simple with wooden tables and a rustic down to earth but elegant feel.

The food

Scot Kirton is spinning some beautiful French fusion here and as the previous right hand to Luke Dale-Roberts of La Colombe, he now has his own kitchen and is going strong.

River Café has seriously upped its game and whilst the prices have gone up, so has the standard of the food. I’ll call it 'fine dining bistro-style with a magic touch'. We popped in for the winter menu on a cold wintry night and settled by the fire.

What stood out for me: The caramelized onion tarte tatin dropped me in the middle of the French countryside (R79) Prawn tortellini is seriously delicious with subtle and beautiful flavours - a large portion (R90).

The pork belly is done braised so not a big slice as is usually the norm. Vrek delicious (R98). Hot chocolate fondant – oh wow, with tonka bean ice cream that adds a touch of the exotic, it’s a winner all around (R55) Take a look at the gallery of these dishes and more.

Kiddies menu
A tip for parents: River Café is now offering a kiddies menu (R20-R48) during the day and soon-to-come play area. Big bonus points for that, at last, great restaurants are making room for Spur-sodden parents to eat lovely food as well as take their tots along.

The wine

The winter menu includes a carafe of Constantia Uitsig Sauvignon Blanc or Buitenverwachting Meifort. It’s a nice range of wines, but in the opinion of our wine guru Cathy Marston: 'A rather disorganised list, the Sauvignon’s are scattered around the place as well as the Merlots.
It would also be nice to see some reds under R100, especially since they do include other areas apart from Constantia so no excuses really. Also, not a great breadth of wines, where is the Chenin, Semillon, Riesling and Pinot Noir?'

Price range

Winter menu: R195 with the inclusive carafe of white or red.
The à la carte menu: Starters range from R69-R90, mains from R85-R135 and desserts are all R55 with the cheese platter for R75.Not to be coughed at, but this is beautiful food.

Breakfast: 08h30-11h00 Lunch bistro: 12h30-14h30 Dinner bistro: 18h30-21h30 (Wed-Sat nights only)All Day Café: 11h00-17h00 (Sun-Tues) 11h00-21h30 (Wed-Sat)

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