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6 Hidden Riverbank Alfresco Terraces In London

By Emily Retter (17 Jun 13)
Tags: alfresco terrace,alfresco restaurant,alfresco pub,river thames,riverside restaurant,riverside pub,bankside pub,bankside restaurant,thames side,hidden gem,hidden pub,hidden restaurant,restaurant guide,london restaurants,summer dining,drinking dining,restaurants in,

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I'm no water baby. Flash back 26 years and my first trip to a swimming pool saw me dangling my far from webbed feet into the shallow end, as my skinny, newly inflated arms shook with shock and sobs. I never got much further. Someone's mum had to sew me a badge embroidered with the word ‘progress' because there was more chance of my seven year old self scaling Everest than winning any other.

I'm not clear on what my progress was - I agreed to put my costume on, maybe - but it still got pride of place on the picnic blanket alongside other favourite canvas badges, principally purchased from a range of National Trust property gift shops.

Gazing across a vista of water, however, instead of swimming through it, now that's pure pleasure. There's something about the ebb and flow of a river that realigns the flow of your own energies. So to eat and drink next to a river can't half be good for the digestion.

The opulent Blue Elephant (pictured above) on Chelsea's Imperial Wharf is a somewhat unexpected beast; a luxury Thai restaurant on the north bank of London's mighty River Thames. Turns out, the combination is just perfect. Where better to eat black pepper prawns, lime seabass and a catfish salad than alfresco, on the verge of a watery surround? An after work cocktail goes down equally well. Book a table by using the reservations calendar below.

If you prefer to stick to British fare, The Boaters Inn in Kingston-upon-Thames or The Bulls Head in Chiswick are heartier choices. Traditional pub grub, real ales and live jazz, encased in a gentle bubble of riverside air? Forget yoga.

Or get your frog's legs over to the Cheyne Walk Brasserie in Chelsea, a French brasserie that can't promise views of the Seine, but certainly carries a certain Parisian charm. I'm not sure one river's rhythmic magic is stronger than another's anyway. Surely they all become one eventually?

Or, for a pinch of the mysterious Thames of yore, cast your net towards The Dickens Inn at St Katherine's Docks. Formally a spice warehouse dating back to the 18th century, this homely, intimate pub with exposed beams and comforting grub will have your mind racing back to Dickensian London's cast of smugglers and all round unsavoury sorts, creeping around one-leggedly – as they were prone - on the smog-blurred riverbanks.

And speaking of dodgy types, Gordan Ramsay's gastro pub The Narrow in Limehouse could be a stylish alternative. Far from unsavoury, the eclectic international dishes here are perfect for a treat. Free from the man himself, you'll leave digestive system unscathed, we promise.

Discover more riverside restaurants in London as well as riverboat restaurants and pubs and restaurants along London's canals.

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