Venetia van Kuffeler reviews Rivea London
The beautiful Bulgari Hotel & Residences in Knightsbridge has added another string to its bow in the form of Alain Ducasse’s Rivea London, a restaurant inspired by the Riviera following the many years he spent visiting the food markets in Italy and Provence.
A much more informal approach than Ducasse’s offering at The Dorchester, tables are dressed with embroidered linens and coastal blue glassware. An excellent team of staff echo this relaxed and chic nature, wearing deck shoes and navy blue bow ties.
Ducasse’s talented protégé Damien Leroux is at the helm of the project, serving a menu of small plates. Both chefs share a passion for ‘La Cuisine du Soleil,’ a vibrant, colourful food, which traditionally uses produce from local artisans; in this case sourced mainly within the British Isles, with a focus on simple flavours and the best ingredients, particularly vegetables.
Rivea signature recipes include the popular market food Socca, a crêpe made with chickpea flour, water and olive oil, which we paired with a selection of colourful dips created from Mediterranean vegetables. Our favourite plates included our starters of seabass carpaccio with pine nuts and gamberoni with a delicate lobster ‘gelée.’ For the pasta course, we chose artichoke and borage ravioli and herb pasta, along with green asparagus and goat’s curd, which were both light and astonishingly good. We then chose a cookpot of vegetables along with more sea bass, this time served with violon courgette and flowers and seared beef fillet with girolles. Although we’d consumed what seemed like a huge number of plates, the meal was perfectly balanced. Not for long though, as we couldn’t help but be tempted by the tiramisu and lemon shortbread with limoncello sorbet. We were finally full. Unnecessary, but quite scrumptious.
Delicious wines were paired up with the food we had chosen by the excellent Australian Sommelier, Sam Heatcote, who even administered mouthwatering Provence rosé by the Jeroboam.
Given that these are dishes normally associated with breezy days overlooking the ocean, or at least underneath clear blue skies, guests must content themselves with the sleek lines of the restaurant – acres of glossy teak wood and a grand, sweeping staircase – rather like a very smart classic sailing yacht, although thankfully without the motion.
Even better, guests can choose from a set lunch menu of three small plates plus dessert for £32 including half a bottle of water and coffee, or £40 including an additional glass of wine. At dinner, a seven-course tasting menu is available for £65.
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