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My Favorite Place: Paul Smith

Paul Smith discusses his love for London’s River Café.

By Dani Shapiro

“I’ve been dining at the River Café since the beginning, before it became the famous restaurant it is today. It started out, more than twenty years ago, as the office canteen for the architect Richard Rogers, because there was nowhere to eat near the Hammersmith Bridge, in West London. It’s still run by his wife, Ruth Rogers. Very quickly, the place became a haven for British writers, actors, architects, and artists.

“The cooking was wonderful from the start, of course, but the River Café has also always been a true pioneer when it comes to the quality of its ingredients, whether it’s wild salmon, or char-grilled calamari, or really proper fresh pasta. Once a year, many of the staffers—young, good-looking men and women who are quite knowledgeable about food—go to Italy and select the olive oil and wine they’ll feature in the restaurant.

“To this day, when I’m home in London, tired from a tremendous amount of traveling, I go there and feel very welcomed. Even though the River Café is always buzzing, the staffers immediately ask me how I am, where I’ve been. There’s the sense that interesting people are all around. You don’t actually know this, but you can feel it.”

Designer Paul Smith recently opened a women’s shop at Claridge’s, in Mayfair, London, and a men’s boutique in Crystals atCityCenter, in Las Vegas.