People make haste, while the sun shines, to the riverstation – and for good reason. Nab a leather sofa by the window and you might think you’re somewhere altogether more European: the sun’s rays bounce off the water and red-faced sailor types chug by in their boats, while shifty-looking swans prowl past on the lookout for arms to break and, possibly, the Queen.
Early-risers are treated to a proper breakfast – muesli, fresh pastries, bacon sandwiches – but the lazier amongst us need not fear as there’s a robust brunch menu served until well after lunchtime. As well as eggs every-way, there’s French toast with bacon and maple syrup and duck eggs or mushrooms with parmesan on toast. For hunters of a classic brunch like me (I steer more towards breakfast than lunch) it feels like a fairly reduced choice, but if you’re happy to expand your dining horizons mid-morning, there’s sausage and mash, smoked haddock risotto and caesar salad; best of all, they do a mean Bloody Mary so you may decide to forgo food in favour of a more liquid reward for another week conquered.
The staff are busy but friendly, and despite my longing for a lie in you might not want to leave it too late as the best seats will fill on a sunny day. Kids eat free until 6pm so it’s a firm favourite with the babes-in-arms set and can be noisy, and you may find you’re politely asked to eat up if there’s an event on in the afternoon – so do phone ahead at weekends. The food is good and the coffee is great, and the kitchen staff are clearly well-versed in provenance. It’s not the cheapest, but you’re paying for quality and a relaxed, friendly service – and, of course, the swans.
Price: from £3.50 (French toast and maple syrup) to £8.50 (sausages and mash).