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“Not so good for weary walkers....?”

Riverside Cafe Tea Room and Gardens
Ranked #3 of 6 Restaurants in Amberley
Price range: US$11 - US$17
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: View
Dining options: Breakfast, Delivery, Reservations
Description: Situated on the banks of the River Arun, Riverside offers breakfast, lunch and traditional afternoon teas all year round. Enjoy sitting outside by the river in the South Downs National Park, drinking a cold beer or enjoying cream tea, we are opposite Amberley Station and 5 minutes walk from the South Downs Way.
Reviewed 3 July 2014

I last visited this establishment probably about 2 years ago as I call in there usually at the end of a days walking if I've missed the train at Amberley station or need refreshment before travelling home. Then I was greeted with a basic clean cafe type area hung with local pictures and selling local produce (jams, cards with local views etc). I purchased a mug of tea and a hunk of delicious cake. So it was with much anticipation I led my friend there after an 11 mile walk along the South Downs way. Rather sweaty and grubby we entered but in our rather disheveled state I immediately felt rather out of place as the interior was very smart. The staff were very friendly but it was table service only. We had a pot of tea for two and I had a Portuguese custard tart which was very tasty but also very tiny and dear enough at £2.55 for a couple of mouthfuls. We sat outside - strangely enough the outside area is much less smart than the inside, despite the palm trees, with plastic ground covering on steps and bog standard wooden picnic benches. I just feel that for the majority of the likely clientele (walkers, bikers, river users) the new image is not right. It's just too posh for where it is situated. Maybe there is an argument for having two seperate areas - one more up market for the clients that the establishment seems now to be trying to target and another area for the more rough and ready types of which I count myself as one after a day out on the trail. It's not that there is anything wrong with the tearooms - maybe it is a little on the dear side but I could forgive that if I felt at ease there which sadly I didn't really. It is a shame because although I visited infrequently previously I would look forward to a visit at the end of a good walk as a real treat whereas now though staff are friendly it's all a little too stiff and formal and self conscious of itself. I have read the responses to other reviews that have been similarly critical and think it's a shame they seem to be totally discounted because there does seem to be a theme to what is being said so maybe there does need to be some credence paid to the general drift of whats being reported. I only like to post a review if I feel I have something valid to say or feel strongly and I would say if you have a special event and want to celebrate in style in a beautiful rural setting then this is the place for you. But if you are a weary traveller and you want a hale and hearty mug of tea and hunk of cake and to rest awhile in a homely atmosphere then I should try the pub nearby instead. We went on there after the tea rooms and all the cyclists had migrated there and I can understand why. It seems a shame because there should be enough trade from cyclists and walkers for both pub and tea rooms and as a customer its nice to have a choice - but I know which I would opt for on future visits - though I will miss that nice mug of tea and chunk of cake. I suspect I will feel the wrath of a reply and be told they are glad I probably won't darken their doors again but it would be nice to think my criticism could be taken as constructive because it is certainly how it is meant.

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1  Thank Jean B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
francescula, Owner at Riverside Cafe Tea Room and Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 4 July 2014

Thank you for your review, to clarify our position we are having approximately 1000 customers visit us every week, a large percentage are walkers, cyclists and motorcyclists who don't feel out of place with our new decor, we welcome everybody in exactly the same way as we always have!
I think that suggesting "another area for the more rough and ready types" would be very insulting to those customers who stop here for a well deserved rest and a bite to eat, of course if you prefer a pub environment you are most welcome to stop there instead when you miss your train.
As for "feeling the wrath of a reply" it is impossible to stand back as a small business owner and do nothing when people try and damage what we have worked so hard to build up, affecting both my livelihood and that of the 20 or so staff I employ.
Regards
Francesca

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242 - 246 of 314 reviews

Reviewed 28 June 2014

I have visited this tea room for many years but sadly will never visit again. Everything about it has deteriorated in the last few years. The tea room occupies a stunning position next to the river and ancient bridge but appears to be attempting a tropical look with palm trees and oddly metal tables. The menu is incredibly expensive but the food average. Also staggering that what is essentially a tea room does not even sell ice creams any more, and this is the problem, the Riverside Tea Rooms does not know what it is, certainly it is not a bistro and I anticipate will lose many loyal customers.

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2  Thank Vanessa W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
francescula, Owner at Riverside Cafe Tea Room and Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 29 June 2014

Thank you for your review, I must however take you up on a couple of points as you have chosen to share your opinion on a public forum:
Expensive"? No, we are no more expensive than any of our local competitors and please feel free to visit them all to check.
Our business has had a large investment made over the last few months so it has in no way "deteriorated" as you so put it - if it is an ice cream you want I suggest the village shop, we are catering for customers who would like to spend some time enjoying the views with great food and service.
Luckily our loyal customers understand what we are trying to achieve here so we won't lose any of them.
Regards,
Francesca

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Reviewed 27 June 2014

Denise and I have been going to the Riverside since Frankie and the family took it over must admit they were a little bit out of there depth not being in the catering trade before. Last winter they were flooded for a few weeks but they have come back with a vengeance with bloody hard work and determination. There staff are always pleased to see you and helpfull me being a bit of a fussy eater they will accommodate me with my wishes.what more can you want. The position is perfect right by the river and you can sit in the garden amongst the palm trees on a nice day you could be any where. Perhaps you might have to pay a little extra but it is worth it so some of you unhappy people stop moaning and go back and get your purse and enjoy we think it is great Denise& Tony

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Thank TonyB593
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
francescula, Owner at Riverside Cafe Tea Room and Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 4 July 2014

Thank you Tony and Denise for always supporting us, rain or shine, and for standing up for us on this public forum!
27,000 customers cant be wrong!
We look forward to seeing you and Ricky and your lovely friends that you bring here very soon,
Kind regards
Frankie x

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Reviewed 18 June 2014

Thought I would try this tea room once more after giving it a bad review in the past. Unfortunately things had not improved - very tasteless food not deserving of the very high prices charged. The only good thing about this tea room is the position - great if you want to while away some time by the river, but there are much nicer tea rooms giving the same if not superior views - and without the extremely high prices charged by this establishment. I would recommend giving it a miss.

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2  Thank lindylooWestSussex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
francescula, Owner at Riverside Cafe Tea Room and Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 19 June 2014

Not wasting my time on this - you said you were not returning???? Probably best you don't return as my other customers like and appreciate what we are trying to do hence the other outstanding reviews.

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Reviewed 13 June 2014

I have recently started to drop in on the Riverside cafe on my way home from work on Fridays! They make an excellent latte and I really enjoy sitting down by the river in their gardens. The staff and owner are always so very lovely and very welcoming. I would highly recommend this great cafe. Their cakes are excellent and very good value for money. Really worth a visit

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Thank Will0w67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
francescula, Owner at Riverside Cafe Tea Room and Gardens, responded to this reviewResponded 19 June 2014

Thank you for your review - it is so lovely when customers enjoy and understand what we are trying to achieve! Many thanks and see you soon!
Regards
Francesca

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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