Test Driving Sam's Riverside - brasserie-style dining with a view

roomThe main dining area at Sam's, looking out onto the Thames.

What can you tell us about Sam's Riverside?

It's the latest restaurant from Sam Harrison, the man behind the Sam's Brasserie and Harrison's restaurants. Four years after closing them he's opened a brand new "Sam's" restaurant on the river by Hammersmith Bridge. It's attached to Riverside Studios who are just completing (at the time of writing) a huge re-development.

Where is it?

From Hammersmith tube, head out towards the Apollo and it's about a five-minute walk from there. 

roomFrom the bar menu - churros with parmesan. We could have snacked on these all afternoon. 

Where should we meet for a drink first?

If you're coming here, your immediate options are rather limited, we think. There are a couple of pubs nearby, The Blue Anchor and The Blue Boat, but we think you'd be better off coming to Sam's and grabbing a seat by the bar, where they also have snacks like the excellent churros above. 

And where should we sit?

Obviously, the main draw is going to be the seats by the window, so you can gaze out at the Thames. Even on a windy and wet day when we visited, these tables are great for people (and dog) watching. But the room is airy and bright enough that you have a sense of the river even when you're away from the windows. On the opposite side of the room, there are some great booths for 4-6 directly by the pass if you like watching the bustle of the kitchen. 

What about the food?

The menu's split into oysters and seafood, starters, mains/grill and dessert. The kitchen is run by Harvey Trollope, who has previously worked at The Ritz Restaurant with John Williams, Rowley Leigh is Culinary Director and we'd say there's a modern European brasserie feel to the food. It was early days when we visited, but we were impressed with what we had, including:

roomThey're offered as a pre-dinner snack on many a menu, but we still love radishes and whipped butter. 

roomThe seafood section of the menu is primarily crudo and oysters (available as 3, 6, 12 servings). We opted for this diver caught scallop ceviche (£9.50), the perfect intro point to the meal. 

roomWe always find it very hard to resist beef tartare when it's on the menu. This super version comes with dripping toast on the side (£10)

roomThere's a lot of talk of "brown food" at the moment - and this dish was a perfect example of it (and why it's so good). This is a bowl of clams, braised trotter and white beans that are better than we could ever make them. A perfect autumnal dish and one that's not to miss. 

roomMoving onto mains - this is the peppered venison chop, onion squash and sprout tops (£34). It's one of the pricier dishes on the menu, but one that is paired with enough squash so you don't need an extra side. Wonderful venison chops. 

roomThe pork shoulder steam with chimichurri (£21) - I mean, you could share this, but you wouldn't want to...

And what about vegetarians?

There's quite a lof of choice for vegetarians on the menu, from starters that include "salt-baked celeriac, hollandaise and hazelnut crumb" and mains like "Roast cauliflower heart, brown rice pilaf, spiced carrot" and "Ricotta tortellini, chanterelles and mushroom broth". Our favourite was this - from the grill menu. 

roomHeritage carrots and purple sprouting broccoli with winter greens (£12) - yes you can still order from the grill section of the menu if you're staying meat or fish free. These were smokily excellent. 

What about dessert?

The dessert section has some classics like Queen of Puddings (£7) and a rum baba with pineapple and verbena (£7). We also liked the option of a biscuit plate for £4, perfect if you just want something with your coffee (although we'd have preferred nut-free options here). For our dessert, we opted for:

roomChocolate mousse, milk ice cream and honeycomb - the lighter option we think (£7)

roomButtermilk pudding, thyme shortbread, fig, date and walnut (£7) - silky smooth but without leaving you horribly stuffed at the end of the meal.

What about drinks?

We went at lunchtime and found some of the lighter beer and brunch cocktails and the spritzes to be a great starting point (see below). 

On the main drinks list, wines start at £24 a bottle, with about half under the £40 mark and plenty available by the glass or carafe. There are also a few special selections from "Sam's Cellar" - heading upwards to £325 for a Chateau Lynch Bages. And if you're celebrating with a group, there's a magnum section too. 

roomOne of the brunch cocktails - Picon-ish Beer (9 Audemus Amer & Covert, Bitter Orange Marmalade, Sam’s Lager - £9) and one of the spritzes (No 5 - Chase Elderflower Liqueur, Pear Juice, Lemon Bitters, Cucumber Bitters, Hambledon English Sparkling Wine £10)

Overall thoughts?

We hadn't actually been to the original Sam's Brasserie, so didn't have that as a reference point - although we did overhear fan's of that singing the new restaurant's praises. As for ourselves, we had a very enjoyable lunch at Sam's. It has great brasserie food, a lovely room and a pretty decent view too - not to mention a consummate restauranteur back in the game, making sure everyone was having a good time. Essential if you're visiting the studios, and perfect for the local area.  

Hot Dinners ate as guests of Sam's Riverside. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 


More about Sam's Riverside

Where is it? 1 Crisp Walk, London W6 9DN

Find out more: Visit their website or follow them on Instagram @samsriversideW6 and Twitter @samsriversidew6.


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