Eating out: Great food but restaurant down by the river lacks identity

The Riverside restaurant
The Riverside restaurant

I was quite looking forward to lunch at the Riverside restaurant for a number of reasons.

For one, it is a lovely venue - the former Cafe Clarkes, sitting underneath the Key Theatre, is two sides glass, letting in tons of natural light, and affords a lovely view of the riverbank.

Brad Barnes dines at The Riverside restaurant at the Key Theatre in Peterborough.

Brad Barnes dines at The Riverside restaurant at the Key Theatre in Peterborough.

It is nicely set out inside, with lots of exposed wood and brick, and I particulary like the John Clare poem adorning one wall.

But, most importantly, they have got a head chef in recently who knows what he is doing. Craig Lemmon has been around for a few years and worked in some well respected restaurants, so I had high hopes for the food. And I wasn’t let down.

There is a pre-theatre menu deal you can choose from when you book tickets, or, as we did, pick from the a la carte menu (luckily I hadn’t paid too much attention to the online menu as it was out of date).

It has a bistro-style feel about it, reflected in my choice of confit duck leg and vegetable spring rolls. They looked very rustic and homemade (a good thing) and were packed with lovely, soft meat and a slight crunch - which was great with the sweet chilli sauce.

Brad Barnes dines at The Riverside restaurant at the Key Theatre in Peterborough.

Brad Barnes dines at The Riverside restaurant at the Key Theatre in Peterborough.

Donna, meanwhile, enjoyed a healthy helping of home-smoked salmon with salmon caviar and creme fraiche served atop a blini (£6.50).

My crispy slow cooked pork belly (£11.50) was a treat. The meat was succulent and moist, while the crackling up top was delightful. The puy lentils were nicely cooked and tasted beautifully smokey with pancetta pieces.

Across the table, Donna’s crispy duck leg salad (£9.95) looked amazing - and the wow factor was backed up by great tasting fresh peppers, onion and more, plus a moreish dressing.

Service was fine if a little slow. There was some staff training going on so I have no problem with that and we did make the show ( just).

Brad Barnes dines at The Riverside restaurant at the Key Theatre in Peterborough.

Brad Barnes dines at The Riverside restaurant at the Key Theatre in Peterborough.

I do feel though that it lacks identity. Is it merely there to serve theatregoers or a bone fide restaurant serving quality dishes?

Our meal suggests the latter, but I am not entirely convinced Vivacity know what they want.

Brad Barnes dines at the Riverside restaurant at the Key Theatre, Peterborough Embankment vivacity.org/theatre-arts/riverside-restaurant

Brad’s rating: 8

Brad Barnes dines at The Riverside restaurant at the Key Theatre in Peterborough.

Brad Barnes dines at The Riverside restaurant at the Key Theatre in Peterborough.