Cooking at the River Café

    A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending the day working in London’s famous River Café, and it was incredible! The kitchen runs with a precision you would expect but a calm you perhaps would not. I tried to document as best I could, taking photos along the way. Once service started, I was stationed at the deep fat fryer (Delight! Fried zucchini! Fried anchovies!), and also helped Danny on pasta with his very busy day. It was an experience I won’t soon forget. Thank you to Ruthie and the lovely family that is the River Café kitchen!


    Recipes from River Café

    A few of the recipes I got to help make during my one-day visit with Ruthie Rogers, her head chef Sian Owen, and their team Danny Bohan, Avi Kumar, Alex Tidey and others:

    Danny Bohan

    Avi Kumar

    We started out with “Vongole e Zucchini Risotto,” with Zucchini flowers and Zucchini.

    The River Café uses Ferron brand Risotto rice.


    To prepare, I chopped up the Zucchini and the Zucchini flowers and put them to the side.

    In a large stock pot, we first coated the risotto in butter and garlic.


    Then we strained in the fish stock which we’d prepared by simmering chopped up vegetables and leftover fish bones in water for 20 minutes:

    • Celery
    • Leeks
    • Red Onion
    • Fennel
    • Garlic
    • Bay leaves
    • Salt
    • Peppercorns
    • Fish bones
    • White wine

    We stirred the Risotto non-stop and for a long time adding butter, basil, and lemon, the zucchini and zucchini flowers at the very end.


    Note: I had a scrap pot on the side, so I could keep my chopping and stirring mess tidy.

    scrap pot

    Potatoes with Lemon

    We made the simplest most delicious potatoes, soaked in lemon, garlic slivers, oil and then baked in the oven.

    • 500 g waxy potatoes
    • 2 Garlic cloves
    • 2 Lemons
    • 4 tbsp Marjoram leaves
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    1.Preheat the oven to 425 F.

    2.Scrub and cut the potatoes in half lengthways, and each half again lengthways. Peel and chop the garlic.Cut the lemons in half lengthways, and each half into three and each third into half. Put in a bowl with the potatoes, squeezing the juice out of the lemon pieces with your hands as you mix.

    3.Add the garlic, marjoram, salt and pepper, and enough olive oil to moisten well. Tip into an ovenproof dish.

    4.Roast for 1/2 hour, until they are cooked and brown. Halfway through, turn the pieces over.

    Meanwhile, in another section of the kitchen, I helped Avi make Ravioli Granchio. I used to lay out a sheet of pasta, spoon the filling on top, brush it with egg, lay out another pasta sheet on top, and cut out the pieces. At the River Café I learned to spray the pasta sheet with water and fold it over the filling, making sure to press the air out from the center out, thus minimizing waste.

    We mixed the filling consisting of brown and white crabmeat, lots of lemon zest, breadcrumbs, fennel, fennel herb, dried chili and olive oil.


    Ravioli, stuffed and ready to cook.


    Crab filling

    • 2 large live male crabs (about 4.5 – 6.5 lb)
    • 3 fresh red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
    • 3 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
    • Juice of 4 lemons
    • 1 garlic clove, peeled and ground to a paste with a little salt
    • 6 tbsp Breadcrumbs
    • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Extra virgin olive oil

    1.Get the fishmonger to kill the crabs for you. In a saucepan large enough to hold both, bring enough water to the boil to cover the crabs. Boil gently for 20 minutes, then remove from the water and leave to cool.

    2.Remove the claws and legs. Break the bodies and open carefully. Remove the brown meat from inside the shell and transfer along with any juices to a bowl. Remove the white meat from the claws and legs and add to the brown meat in the bowl. Mix together.

    3.Add the chillies and most of the chopped parsley, the lemon juice, breadcrumbs, and crushed garlic to the crab mixture. Stir in the olive oil. This sauce should be quite wet.

    The French Yellow Waxed Beans were delicious.

    First Alex made a tomato, garlic and basil sauce


    and blanched the beans.


    Then she cooked them down in the sauce until the final result looked something like this:


    Anchovy and Rosemary Paste.

    Meanwhile, I made Ruthie’s trademark Anchovy and Rosemary Paste.

    I finely chopped Ortiz anchovies (the best!)

    • 10 Anchovy fillets
    • 1 Lemon
    • 2 tbsp Rosemary leaves
    • 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Finely chop the anchovies to “melt” them, then stir in the rosemary and season with black pepper. Add the olive oil and mix well.

    Danny took care of the Salsa Verde production

    This involved mashed capers

    Volpaia Red wine vinegar


    loosely chopped herbs (basil, parsley, marjoram, mint)


    and Dijon mustard, Salted Anchovies and Olive oil. It all comes together under mortar and pestle.

    Salsa Verde

    • 2 tbsp Parsley leaves
    • 2 tbsp Mint leaves
    • 1 tbsp Basil leaves
    • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 1 Garlic clove
    • 1 tbsp capers
    • 3 Anchovy fillets
    • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
    • 1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

    Finely chop the parsley, mint and basil, put into a bowl and cover with olive oil. Peel the garlic and chop with the capers and anchovy. Add to the herbs and mix together. Stir in the mustard and vinegar, season with black pepper and add more olive oil to loosen the sauce.

    I spied the most delicious salmon being made in another corner of the kitchen.

    The whole fish was stuffed with slices of lemon and rosemary and baked in sea salt.

    There was lobster pan-fried with wild and fresh oregano, fresh chili and lemon, and then finished off in the woodburning oven.


    The appetizer combo for lunch that day was Artichokes alla Romana served with greens, fresh mozzarella and bruschetta.

    The Artichokes were boiled with fresh flavorful herbs and garlic,


    then baked until they were crispy.


    Here’s how we plated them.


    Artichokes alla Romana

    Serves: 6

    • 12 small or 6 large globe artichokes
    • 250 ml olive oil

    For the stuffing:

    • 3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
    • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with sea salt
    • 6 tablespoons olive oil
    • Coarsely ground black pepper
    • 1 1/2 lemons, quartered

    1.For the stuffing, mix all the ingredients together, and season well. Press the mixture inside the center of each artichoke.

    2.Pour the olive oil into into a heavy stainless-steel saucepan large enough to contain all the artichokes. Place the artichokes, stuffed side down, jammed together so they stay upright. Scatter any excess stuffing over the top. Add enough water to come one third of the way up the globes, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper, place the lid on top and cook gently for about 30 minutes until the water has evaporated and the artichokes have begun to brown at the bottom. The timing will depend on the size and freshness of the artichokes. Test for tenderness using a sharp pointed knife. You may need to add more water and cook for longer. Ideally, the result should be tender artichokes that have begun to caramelize in the oil.

    The River Café
    Thames Wharf
    Rainville Road,
    London W6 9HA
    +020 7386 4200

    The goop collection