It's anything but young or trendy, has been pretty much unchanged since the late 1980s and spawned the likes of Jamie Oliver. Of course these are not guarantees of continued success, but somehow River Cafe consistently comes up trumps with delicious Italian dishes.
Tucked away in Fulham on the banks of the Thames, this restaurant delivers the goods on most visits, whether for lunch or dinner. I've never seen it empty. You get good views of the kitchens along one side of the bright, open, stark interior - now looking a bit tired and basic, but still functional.
You get the feeling that the real work goes on behind the wall.
Recommended is the ribollita Tuscan bean soup - virtually a meal in itself.
On a previous visit I had melt-in-the-mouth sea bass, the best I have ever tasted, but I made the mistake of ordering it again and it was a little heavy on the chargrilled side with an enormous pile of fried artichoke. Nice idea but too dry. The not-so-pink spring lamb is also good but a little greasy.
Those feeling celebratory could go for the wild Scottish salmon at £40.
The wine list is extensive, but I recommend you brush up on your knowledge if you wish to exploit it.
The River Cafe is not cheap but it has great food and friendly service.
Where: Rainville Road, London, W6 9HA
Contact: 020 7386 4200
How much: £75 a head including wine