Michael Winner, food critic for The Times, has named The River Café as the Best Restaurant in London at an awards ceremony held to mark the publication of his latest book, ‘Winners Dinners: The Restaurant and Hotel Guide – Over 600 Places to Visit, Not to Visit, to Love, to Hate!’
While criticising its location as being ‘impossible to find’ and likening the allure of the nearby Thames to that of a ‘motorway, railway lines or a car park,’ Winner described the Italian restaurant owned by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, as ‘a lovely room, a joy.’
“The restaurant is brilliantly designed with great simplicity and the food is superb,” he said. “Every dish is near-perfect. I have never had a bad course. It’s unquestionably the most reliable good grub to be had in London.”
Noted as the Best Restaurant Outside London is Michael Parkinson’s Royal Oak Paley Street, where head chef Dominic Chapman is described as an ‘historic master cook’ for his British menu featuring local and seasonal produce.
Winner also awarded The French Horn in Sonning, Reading with the same title, praising owners Carol and Ronnie Emmanuel for their ‘brilliantly run, old-fashioned’ restaurant.
As well as giving awards for the most highly accomplished restaurants, Winner named and shamed the establishments serving his Worst Meals Ever as The Athenauem Hotel Piccadilly, The Marriott Grosvenor Square, and the Michelin-starred Devonshire Arms in Yorkshire.
“Athenaeum and Marriott provided the dreariest, been in the deep freeze forever, inadequate food,” he said. “The Devonshire Arms Michelin-starred restaurant does overfussed, over-decorated, tired horror-story courses.”
The full list of Michael Winner’s best and worst restaurants and hotels include:
Best Restaurant in the World - Harry’s Bar, Venice
Best Restaurant in London - The River Café
Best Restaurant Outside London - The Royal Oak Paley Green and The French Horn, Sonning
Best Restaurateur - Richard Caring
Restaurant I go to Most - The Wolseley
Best Restaurant Managers - Robert Holland at The Wolseley and Charles Pullan at The River Café
Best Waiting Staff - The River Café
Best Hotel in the UK - The Ritz Piccadilly
Best UK Hotel Group - Von Essen Hotels
Best Hotel in Europe - The Villa Feltrinelli, Lake Garda
Best Hotel Boss Personality - Danielle Roux at La Colombe D’or, St Paul De Vence
Worst Meals Ever - The Athenauem Hotel Piccadilly, The Marriott Grosvenor Square, The Devonshire Arms Yorkshire
Worst Food, Service, Attitude, Everything - The Cliff, Barbados
Best Very Personal, Wife Cooks, Husband Does Front Of House - Fisher Pond Great House, Barbados