River // Waterfront Dining at Its Best

In Tuscaloosa, we love our restaurants. As a college town, sure we love our casual eats, but we’re also proud of our more elegant dining options which are essential for date night, wedding proposals, and taking out a new business client. One person who knows this well is Drew Henson. As the founder of Cypress Inn, Henson is no stranger to having successful business in Tuscaloosa. The restauranteur has quite the following among his customers as well as former employees that have joined his newest eatery, River. The waterfront dining establishment boasts a picturesque outdoor seating area and patio with stone fire pits and ample view of the River. Indoors the restaurant seats 155 to 160 diners in an elegant ambiance of rich wood tones and romantic lighting.

After hearing the buzz about River, I knew I had to check things out for myself. I had the opportunity to visit the new bistro for a Wednesday night birthday celebration with my girlfriends. Walking up to the restaurant, I was already taken back by the beautiful entrance and view of the charming outdoor patio overlooking the water. Despite our large party size, the River staff was able to accommodate us with comfortable seating ideal for all of us to engage in conversation. I immediately noticed the hustle and bustle of the restaurant on what I expected to be a quite Wednesday evening. Couples sat in quiet conversation in the intimate booths made for two and groups of old friends giggled joyfully at the bar with glasses of wine.

Our server started our group off with complimentary house-made garlic parmesan potato crisps. The perfect texture along with the savory balance of parmesan started our dinner off right. My group decided to also opt for the charred onion dip to enjoy with the potato creations. Reviewing the menu, I was impressed with the selections. From blue crab cucumber gazpacho to gulf amberjack, there was no question that this menu was seafood inspired. However, the summer ratatouille and River burger caught my eye. In the end, the red meat lover in me won out with a final selection of the River burger featuring caramelized onions, white cheddar, house smoked bacon, arugula, and fries.

It didn’t take long for our server to present our selections. I already knew my meal was going to be good after noticing the ample size of bacon on my burger. The caramelized onions and sharpness of the white cheddar were a perfect marriage in my mouth. My beef was cooked to order and the seasoning was subtle and perfect. Our group knew the only way to end this perfect evening was with the perfect dessert. My curiosity peaked after hearing so many people talk about the peanut butter pie and peach cobbler. Both desserts did not disappoint. Rich in flavor and texture with the help of butter and sugar, both options would be a fine selection for those with a sweet tooth.

All in all, my visit to River was a great one. It has been a rare occasion to have a positive dining experience with a large group of people. However, Drew Henson knows his business and has chosen the right employees to execute his vision. I’m looking forward to coming back and enjoying a nice romantic dinner with the hubs!

River is located at 1650 Jack Warner Parkway and is opened Tuesday through Saturday for dinner.  Tweet us @ThePlanetWeekly and let us know where you are eating!

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