Waterside dining: 10 riverside restaurants you need to try

From a nautical panorama of life on and around the Thames, to a delicious scene of Cambridge’s ancient skyline, we’ve rounded up some restaurants boasting some of the best river views.

Le Pont de la Tour, London

Le Pont de la Tour is as traditional a restaurant as they come. Suede waist-coated waitresses, a menu dominated by French classics. That kind of thing. And yet, unless you spend a lot of time on the continent, it still feels like something quite new ­– not often do you find Mediterranean-esque al fresco white table-clothed luxury on the river in the UK. But here it is, and with the best views of Tower Bridge to boot.

Midsummer House, Cambridge

‘House’ is not a word to be taken lightly here. At first glance, this is a Victorian residence with idyllic surrounds of the river Cam and Midsummer Common. On closer inspection, it’s an award-winning restaurant, where one of the UK’s most respected pot bashers Daniel Clifford is the chef-patron. In spite of all that, if you’re still just coming here for the river views over the Cam, get yourself up to the first floor lounge or terrace.

The River Bar, Cambridge

Ah, The River Bar. A steakhouse with a view as good (and as rare) as the steak. The outlook the restaurant’s roof terrace affords would not seem out of place on a tin of shortbread. The 15th century Magdalene College isn’t going to look hideous even at the worst of times, but there’s something about rib eye steak, rosemary chips and an amaretto sour which makes it all that much better.

Roberta’s, Dublin

With its bespoke glass ceiling and views of the River Liffey, Roberta’s is a handsome addition to the Dublin dining scene. Head chef Troy Watson and his team are serving dishes like flame grilled Iberico pork with fennel salad and cod in ginger and spring onion both, as well as excellent wood-fired pizzas. There’s a terrace, too – perfect for cocktails in the sunshine.

Hope & Anchor, South Ferriby

Three-time Great British Menu finalist Colin McGurran opened this pub-restaurant a few years ago. You can see why he chose the spot, as the outlook is spectacular. Perched on the confluence of the River Humber and Ancholme, perhaps it was always going to be. Fortunately it has the food to back it up too – dry aged shorthorn steak (matured by the restaurant itself) from the Josper grill is a particular highlight.

Swan at the Globe, London

Chef Alan Pickett is back in his whites and now leading the kitchen at the Swan, next door to Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. It’s open all day, serving breakfast, afternoon tea, and modern British dishes like slow-cooked ox cheek and Cornish fish stew. Drop in for lunch after a stroll along the Southbank or visit early evening for a sunset riverside supper.

The Narrow, London

It’s fair to say that Gordon Ramsay’s Limehouse restaurant has a lot going for it. Namely the setting, which gives you good views of The Shard from one angle, and the skyline portrait of Canary Wharf from another. All while Thames clippers blast by. A table in the conservatory is proper real estate whatever the time of year, so book ahead.

 The River Grille, Bristol

It’s British bistro fare all over at The Bristol hotel’s restaurant. Expect 28-day aged prime cut steaks, roast lamb, and catch-of-the-day stone bass. Of course, there’s afternoon tea. Just to please the tourists, you might think. Then again, traditional tea, scones and sandwiches while admiring the quay just outside seems like a pretty good way to waste the day away.

The Waterside Inn, Bray

The Roux empire is as enduring as any other. The Waterside Inn, particularly – this restaurant on the banks of the Thames has held three Michelin stars for a remarkable 30 years straight, and doesn’t look like losing them anytime soon. Booking, as you might’ve guessed, is therefore essential.

Stones, Matlock

People come to this well turned out family-run restaurant in Derbyshire for the riverside terrace. But they stay for the pudding. The chocolate brownie with Toblerone ice cream is a bit of a crowd pleaser. Thinking about it, so too is the peanut butter mousse tart with caramel ice cream and honeycomb. But then, we haven’t even got to the rhubarb semi-freddo with pistachio mousse and a raspberry doughnut yet…

Where’s your favourite place to dine by the river? Let us know in the comments!

This is a guest post from freelance food journalist Hugh Thomas. He’s contributed to Foodism, Time Out, Great British Chefs, and is part of British Street Food’s small team of vigilant writers. Find him on twitter @hughwrites.