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The Riverside restaurant and pub.

The Riverside restaurant and pub. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

LECHLADE-UPON-THAMES — The January slush might not invite a day of leisure on the rural banks of the River Thames, but it’s not hard to imagine The Riverside restaurant’s natural draw come sunshine and maritime recreation.

The unusual restaurant/waterside entertainment facility is just a few miles down the road from RAF Croughton in the Gloucestershire countryside.

It’s allure lies not in its menu or drink selection — all standard fare — but in its singular situation on the banks of the River Thames. The river is much less splendid than when it arrives in London 120 miles downstream, but it is still impressive for its width and strong current.

The restaurant, a hulking two-story building without a hint of architectural importance, is benefited enormously by its location just over the Halfpenny Bridge, which crosses the River Thames at the main entrance to Lechlade.

The restaurant has been run by the Lloyd family since 1959, according to its menu. The family, it seems, has been content to produce food without flare and let the gorgeous setting and relaxed atmosphere sell the experience.

Its interior boasts exposed oak beams for that 16th-century feel and the 60 seats still leave room for a pool table and several dart boards.

The menu includes the typical choice of 4 pound ($8) paninis and the ubiquitous full English breakfast for 3.50 pounds ($7) — dishes that aren’t designed to win critical praise or compete for culinary greatness with the more creative eateries along Lechlade’s surprisingly posh main street.

Instead, the food seems prepared with that “just good enough” mantra that seems to go along with so many restaurants boasting prime location over prime cuisine. That said, the late morning brunch — a mix of an English breakfast with a sandwich — was about what one would expect for 11 pounds ($22).

The selection of beer, wine and spirits, however, runs long and makes every effort to provide a little something to wet just about any whistle. At the bar, too, standard pub prices prevail, which means it will run a patron about 6 pounds ($12) to buy two pints.

The Riverside has maximized its location both on the River Thames and in one of England’s prime antique districts with a host of side ventures.

Visitors can rent one of three styles of boat from The Riverside, for lazy rows up the river or an adventurous journey to the capital. The restaurant also welcomes scores of vendors to its grounds for regular antique arcades.

More information on The Riverside can be found at http://www.riverside-lechlade.co.uk/

See previous After Hours reviews here.


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