Rivea (pronounced like Nivea FYI), is the second UK restaurant from Alain Ducasse – after his three Michelin starred eponymous restaurant in the Dorchester. This one also has a swanky location, in the Bvlgari Hotel in Knightsbridge down in the basement. A hotel restaurant in the basement is never an easy thing to pull off.
We shouldn’t have been so pessimistic however – as we walked down the giant rolling staircase we were taken aback by the beauty of the place; it’s a stunning dining room and anything but the dark and dingy dungeon we were expecting.
A good choice of bread with some crostini and an aubergine dip got things off to a strong start – the black olive focaccia was particularly good and the olive oil that accompanied it was divine.
The menu consists of small plates for sharing that come out as and when they’re ready – very on trend! At lunch they offer a good value set menu priced at £35 per person including water and coffee which is what we went for.
Starters were all beautiful to look at and the flavours were bang on. Red mullet with confit tomatoes and olives saw exquisitely cooked fish with a beautiful blend of sweet tomato and salty capers. The warm octopus and potato salad was also cooked to perfection.
Rivea salad wrapped in a socca, which is a crispy corn fritta, was most unusual but a sure fire way to make a salad far more enticing. The highlight for me was the buffalo mozzarella with courgette and basil – the blend of flavours and textures was exquisite and it was served in an ever so pretty glass dish.
We decided to share an extra pasta dish as one wasn’t included in the set lunch. The pappardelle with girolles, tomato and basil (£10) was very enjoyable; not the most exciting plate of pasta we’ve ever eaten but tasty never the less.
Both meat dishes; roasted duck with tender turnips and the rib & saddle of lamb were utterly delicious. The quality of the meat and their cooking was perfect and they looked so enticing – it made you want to get stuck in.
Desserts were simply presented and the flavour combinations were simple too. A raspberry and chocolate ‘palet’ was rich and decadent yet not too sickly and the lemon shortbread with a sharp Limoncello sorbet was a great palate cleanser.
I really loved the food at Rivea; each dish was vibrantly presented and the ingredients/flavour combinations made me feel like I was on holiday. The dining room was a corker too and the staff (all kitted out in matching Converse trainers) were totally sweet and charming. I found the hotel itself a bit naff, Rivea on the other hand was anything but.