The River Cafe Cafe: Ruth Rogers' celebrated London restaurant launches new venue

The River Cafe was started by Ruthie Rogers in 1987 (Press handout)
The River Cafe was started by Ruthie Rogers in 1987 (Press handout)

It has been one of the capital’s hottest gastronomic tickets since it opened in 1987, with A-list celebrities from Sir Paul McCartney and Harrison Ford to Emily Blunt and Gwyneth Paltrow beating a path to its door.

But now fans of The River Cafe in Hammersmith will get a chance to sample the pared down taste of the cuisine that made it so famous.

On Thursday at 9am a sister cafe to The River Cafe will launch next door to the celebrated tow path venue.

The River Cafe Cafe, a relatively small space with white chairs and tables and a terrace overlooking the Thames, will serve an all-day menu with offerings such as plates of prosciutto and mozzarella and seasonal vegetables like zucchini and grilled peppers.

Ice cream coupes and River Cafe desserts are also served all day with pastries, ice creams and coffee to take away. In the evening, there will be a chance to drink aperitivos, non-alcoholic cocktails and wine served with homemade crisps and Italian olives.

Prices have not been revealed yet but it seems fair to assume that two people will be able to eat well for less than the £59 cost of a main restaurant Secondi such as Rombo al forno — turbot tranche wood-roasted over potatoes with Amalfi lemon and zucchini.

The River Cafe Cafe will run from 9am to 10pm on Tuesdays to Saturdays and 9am to 4pm on Sundays and, in contrast to its big older sister establishment, is only for walk-ins.

The River Cafe was started by Ruthie Rogers with her business partner Rose Gray, who died in 2010.

It began as a staff canteen for the offices of the co-founders’ late architect husband, Richard Rogers, before becoming the best-known Italian restaurant in London through hugely popular recipe books such the River Café Cook Book.

It helped launch the careers of chefs including Jamie Oliver and April Bloomfield, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Sam Clark and Theo Randall.

Lady Rogers once said the reason why she had never launched an offshoot before was “every time we thought about opening a new restaurant we did a new cookbook instead or just concentrated on making the River Café even better.”

But from Thursday that will all change.