Whilst I am notorious for having a huge and ever-growing list of restaurants, cafes and bars that I want to visit, it's rare for Marc to bring up somewhere he wants to try. I mentioned Riverbar when it first opened many months ago and he said "Oh yeh! Where Broadwalk used to be" and sounded very keen to check it out. We tried to go on several occasions but fate intervened. Once we were literally on our way there and got pulled into Hanaichi Sushi Train instead.
Over these past few months, Riverbar and Kitchen has received very average online ratings and reviews so the urgency of trying it waned. Last Friday, we were looking for a suitable lunch spot and I was thinking about Taro Ramen but the weather was so stunning that it seemed like a waste not to be by the river.
The venue is huge - it seems more expansive than I remember it but maybe that's just because I haven't been down on that part of Eagle Street Pier for a while. The indoor seating area is spacious in itself but most of the action spans outside to soak up the waterfront and views of the Story Bridge. The place was packed so I went to line up at the counter whilst Marc hunted for a table. The majority of clientele were suited up workers on lunch break so as someone cruising around on her day off, I felt markedly underdressed.
The menu contains lots of bistro classics with minor creative twists. We saw plenty of burgers being carried past us and I noticed that the lamb quesadilla was a very popular choice. As we waited for our food, Marc got progressively hungrier and kept making comments about other people's orders like "that steak sandwich looks good" or "that chicken burger looks good too".
Jug of peach and cider sangria
I waited for our drink, a jug of white peach sangria, at the bar. It was fruity, chilled and light, though a tiny bit too sweet for me. It tasted nothing like our usual red wine sangria but together with the beautiful blue sky and sunshine, brought back a taste of summer.
For our food, Marc and I shared some chili salt squid, potato wedges and a pork and fennel pizza. Our meals took a while to come out but I did expect a wait because the place was so busy and it hadn't quite verged onto the category of ridiculous or unreasonable.
Pizza with pork, fennel and manchego cheese
I tried some of the pizza first. The base was nice and thin though I would have liked it to be crispier. The pork and fennel topping was just right. It had a lovely flavor without being too heavy handed. This is a pizza I see more as a side to eat with other dishes than a main to have on its own.
Chili salt squid with lime
The chili salt squid was something I had really been craving. It was a letdown, unfortunately. The squid itself was tender but the crumb wasn't crunchy enough. What's more, there was only lime to accompany it. I'm not in the habit of eating fried squid without some kind of dipping sauce. Maybe if it was really, really crunchy and spicy, it would have been OK solo but in this case, a sauce was necessary.
Potato wedges with sweet chili and sour cream
The potato wedges were unreal. I never used to like wedges because there's to much starchy, boring potato flesh and not enough crunchy exterior. These were remarkably crunchy. Even as our food cooled down, they somehow retained their crunch. They were served with sweet chili and sour cream but I thought they were great just on their own. In that regard, they succeeded where the squid failed.
I don't get what all the bad hype is about Riverbar and Kitchen. I really liked it there! Sure it was busy and the service is on the slow side but the location is A grade and the food is inexpensive but fairly well done. I would definitely go back for more drinks and nibbles, provided I can nab a table.