Stylish Dining - London Favorites - Part 1

Just back from a short vacation in London, Philippe and I visited our favorite restaurants and also discovered some new ones.  A perennial favorite is The River Cafe, in Thames Wharf and we go without fail whenever we're in town.  River Cafe was inspired by Chefs Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray who died in 2010. It's justly famous for well executed rustic-style Italian dishes, made from locally sourced in-season ingredients. The main dining room is bright, airy, convivial and during warm summer evenings the wall of glass doors are flung open to the lovely garden with the Thames flowing alongside.  Chefs that began their careers at River Cafe and went onto great success elsewhere include Ed Baines of Randall & Aubin (London),  April Bloomfield of The Spotted Pig (New York) and celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver.

The weather was on our side during this trip so we were able to also enjoy the beautiful garden at The Ivy Chelsea Garden, the sister restaurant to The Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden.  The Ivy Chelsea Garden has been open only 8 weeks but it already feels very much part of the neighborhood.  Serving casual English cuisine, it's the perfect location for a long leisurely weekend brunch and when we arrived it looked as if several patrons had been there most of the afternoon. With generous banquette seating and widely spaced tables, you'll be hard pressed to be seated at a "bad" table.  My favorite dish from the Covent Garden restaurant, which they also serve here is the shepherds pie made with lamb - love it!!