Riverside Vegetaria* has long been one of our favourite restaurants and as we have eaten there three times since Christmas (four if you include Christmas Lunch), I have decided that it is about due for a review. We don’t normally eat there quite that regularly as Kingston is a good half to three-quarters of an hour journey from where we live. Recently however circumstances have led us to eating there almost every Sunday, or at least that is how it seems.
Today, my brother-in-law and his wife had come to visit us. They are both carnivores, so our original plan was to take them to an Italian restaurant as we can usually find something that Mrs johnm55 (who is a veggie) can eat on an Italian menu. However when we arrived the queue was out the door and we were told it would be at least half an hour for a table. The brother-in-law didn’t fancy queueing so suggested that we try Riverside as Mrs johnm55 had been raving about it.
The first thing to note about Riverside is it’s setting. It is right on the river, and especially in summer the setting is, idyllic is probably going slightly over the top, but it is very attractive. The second thing is the service, which is always friendly and as efficient as it needs to be. The third thing is how do they manage to get as many tables into such a small space.
The fourth thing is the food. The menu is fairly eclectic, but does tend to have a bias towards food from the Indian Sub Continent. Also, and this is not a criticism, this is a traditional vegetarian’s vegetarian restaurant (vegans are also well catered for), as opposed to a place like Terre a Terre in Brighton which has a more obvious appeal to omnivores, whilst still remaining vegetarian. So how did a couple of carnivores, or three if you count me, get on?
The women decided to skip the starters and stuck to the wholemeal garlic bread, which always arrives with the drinks. My b-i-l decided to have the Cream of Broccoli Soup and I had the Organic Spicy Vegetable Balls with Coriander Sauce. The Cream of Broccoli soup was pronounced as very enjoyable, but different to what he had expected. I pointed out that here a V beside a dish means Vegan not Vegetarian, so the unexpected taste might have been down the lack of cream, which he agreed was a possibility. My Spicy Vegetable Balls were excellent. They were two balls of finely shredded carrot, onion and potato, well spiced, dipped in a light batter and deep-fried. The Coriander Sauce that they were served with, tasted of fresh coriander, just enough chilli, cumin and ground coriander. I had never ordered them before, but will do so again.
The main courses arrived. My brother-in-law and I ordered the same thing, the Masala Dosai, my sister-in-law went for the Green Lentil and Vegetable Curry, and Mrs johnm55 decided that she was having the House Salad. Normally the House Salad has Cottage Cheese, but as she doesn’t like cottage cheese, they replaced it with a rather large quantity of avocado. I was an impressive plate of vegetables, fruits and nuts, accompanied by a jug of dressing. My sister -in-law was in the meantime tucking into her green lentils with obvious enjoyment.
My Dosai was as I expected it to be. The Dosai is a bit thicker than you would normally be served in a South Indian restaurant but nicely crisp on the outside and stuffed with a tasty, spicy, potato filling. Accompaniments are a vegetable curry and a very good coconut sambar.
We debated having puddings, but decided that we were all full enough.
So how did the carnivores get on? I enjoyed my meal at Riverside as I always do, my brother and sister-in-law, thought it was excellent and said that they wished that they had something like it near where the live, so all in all a success.
The bill, including a bottle house red (which was perfectly drinkable, if nothing spectacular) came to £67.50, but as we have been eating there a lot recently we had a 20% discount card so only paid £54.00.
Because I am a bit of a coffee aficionado (or possibly snob) and sometimes have been disappointed by their coffee we walked along to Carluccio’s for coffee.
It was raining fairly heavily otherwise we would have gone for a walk along the river to help a very pleasant lunch go down
*If you click-through to the restaurant website I don’t think it has been updated recently and my feeling is the prices are slightly higher than those shown on their sample menu.