Review of 'The River Café'

Highly commended by the owners of our B&B in Hay-on-Wye, The River Café, about 10 minutes down the road, was our first choice for dinner. It did not start out well with a phone call earlier in the day for a reservation went first unanswered then when answered was very frenetic - “Sorry, we are very busy, one minute” (phone down on counter for a few minutes) “When did you want a reservation for?” “We are very busy right now, sorry” “We will try to squeeze you in” “What time was that?” (etc, etc). After the short drive in the evening the visit did not go much better…Despite arriving only a few minutes prior to our reservation we were told to sit out on the terrace as they were still recovering from lunch - Indeed, the dining room was in disarray as we walked through to the nice seats beside the river (Wye). We were thankful for the blankets on offer as it was quite a cool evening but it was nice to see a bit of the sun as it went down in late August…Our drink order resulted in drinks a short while later but then our waiting to be invited to our table inside never came so about 30 minutes later I peaked into the interior to remind them we were there - They needed it as they had forgotten about us despite there only being about 12 people in the entire restaurant.

The interior of the restaurant is quite contemporary with wooden floors and high-backed leather seats and sharp wooden tables. It seems like it is trying a bit too hard…

I started with the scallops and chorizo (£7.50) which was good if a bit thin on the scallops and, indeed, the chorizo. The salad included was the best part with wonderful fresh greens that were as if they had just been picked in the minutes before being served.

We both had the fish and chips which, in retrospect, was perhaps a mistake (the crab pasta at the next table looked very good). For £13.50 we had a large plate of chips, salad and coleslaw. Again, the salad was the highlight here again. My fish was mostly batter (granted, tasty batter) and the chips were slightly underdone but nicely crunchy. The fish was fresh but simply not enough for me (though my companion's portion seemed to be a bit more generous). It was good that it was not greasy…

We could not resist the desert and, on the recommendation of our current server (the original person I can only assume was the owner or something was running around busy the first part of our visit - thankfully gave up serving us) we had the bannofee pie (£5.50) which was nice with the banana being slightly under-ripe which is my preference. Tasty if not completely overwhelming.

The food was ok, the service was not great, really…ok, except for the one guy that was so worked up all the time (and doubtless was the one on the phone earlier). We have no idea why the small restaurant that, at best, would seat 50 people, would mean the staff were worked up as much as they were. Nice location though.

Update: A few years later we visited and the interior has been somewhat revamped but, sadly, the food has not with dismal service as well. Still has the great views though.

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2013-08-26

Cuisine: American/British

Address: The Boat House, Glasbury HR3 5NP Powys

Location: Powys (Wales) - Glasbury



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