The best spots for riverside dining in London
What better way is there to dine than on the river? And now that Rick Stein's new restaurant has opened, there's fresh reasons to visit
We love cosying up beside it in the winter too, with roaring log fires - but as we gear up for spring, we're especially pleased to welcome a new riverside restaurant in London, from the famous television chef Rick Stein, who said he'd never open a restaurant in London.
Eating his words, Stein has finally fallen in love and taken over The Depot, Barnes, because of its beautiful conservatory views, on a particularly serene stretch of river.
London's best riverside dining, bar our one Italian restaurant pick, below, has always held traditional focus on British cuisine. And The Depot still celebrates the best of British produce, but it is curious how Stein's new menu has an international feel too, with dishes like Singapore chili crab, fried in-shell. If it's enough to lure Rick Stein in from the countryside...
New opening: Rick Stein, Barnes
What's the scoop? Open just in time for the spring, television chef Rick Stein said he'd never open a restaurant in London. Then he saw The Depot in Barnes and fell in love. Its tranquil riverside setting, and generous conservatory for riverside views, were just enough to lure him from in the countryside.
Why go? To sample Rick's best of British menu with international twists. Try the Singapore chilli crab, stir fried in the shell, a bavette steak with bordelaise sauce or grilled langoustines Stein calls "simply the best, from the west coast of Scotland."
Sea Containers, South Bank
What's the scoop? This hip, Tom Dixon-designed British-American restaurant serves dishes inspired by both nations, like seafood stew and oven-roasted lamb meatballs, as well as cuts of meat to share. Flexible dining options allow for walk-ins at any time, from breakfast through to dinner, by way of a bottomless brunch at weekends.
Why go? Dandelyan is next door, with its new highly-engineered cocktail menu centering upon 'Vices of Botany', which is a must-try, but if you're just after the food, rest assured that this roomy restaurant often has space for walk-ins, even at busy times (though it's obviously best to book on weekends).
The Narrow, Limehouse
What's the scoop? This Gordon Ramsay-run riverside sun trap is heaving at weekends, because of its large conservatory. On summer days you definitely need to book, although an evening meal still retains most of the charm. The menu "epitomises British dining" with daily fresh cuts and sea catches on the blackboard, with all the usual classics on the main menu.
Why go? For a dose of old school sophistication with an atmosphere not half as stiff as you might think from a Ramsay restaurant. You'll stand out without a nice shirt on, but the mixed crowd of young upstarts from the area make the atmosphere at The Narrow light and convivial.
Le Pont de la Tour, Shad Thames
What's the scoop? This French restaurant serves traditional dishes that will surprise, and is fast becoming as iconic as the view of Tower Bridge from its windows. The limited outdoors seating is possibly London's most sought-after riverside spot, so book early and go for the a La Carte lunch for best value, without being rushed.
Why go? For the ultimate fine dining experience, coupled with iconic views.
Skylon, South Bank
What's the scoop? Choose one of two experiences at Skylon: there's a modern British menu serving half of the restaurant for a more formal experience, or a grill-inspired casual restaurant. Both have stunning views of the river from the first floor of the Royal Festival Hall.
Why go? To mix your passions for food and art in a lovingly inspired setting, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows with views over the beating heart of the Thames, on the South Bank.
The River Cafe, Hammersmith
What's the scoop? This iconic riverside restaurant is famous for its luxurious feel, long waiting list and upbeat staff, who have good service taught to them from the top, by Lady Ruth Rogers, the chef at the helm of this restaurant that opened in 1987.
Why go? Awarded a Michelin star in the late Nineties, The River Cafe is that rarest of London restaurant beasts: as hot now as it was then.
What's the scoop? The local swear by the high quality British seafood at this restaurant, south of Wandsworth Bridge. Although the seafood is classic, there's modern twists offered too from the family at the helm who have run Brady's in various locations for over twenty-five years.
Why go? To visit the new no reservations bar adjoined to the restaurant, with cocktails and a relaxed bar menu too.