My first dining-out experience since being back in New York was Riverpark, a restaurant overlooking the FDR drive and the East River.
Would you believe it? The first time I’m out in NYC and it rains (I hadn’t seen rain since April/May in Dubai) so I was treated to a view of this beautiful rainbow from the terrace of the restaurant!
Although we had originally wanted an outdoor table, it was probably lucky for us that we weren’t seated there since most of the terrace diners had to be moved indoors due to the ensuing thunderstorm.
To access Riverpark, I had to enter through an office atrium that had a spiral staircase and some meandering wicker benches towards the end of which I could see the terrace diners.
Walking into the restaurant, I was immediately mesmerized by the rows of tiny square lights that lined the ceiling above the inner seating area. It felt so festive.
Pulling myself away from the hypnotizing effects of the lights, I re-focused my attention on the maître-d’ as she explained that it was Restaurant Week and a glance at the menu showed that a 3-course meal would be only $35. A bargain as far as we were concerned.
Since we did not have reservations we were offered a seat at the bar, which was empty for the most part, which meant we could sit at the coveted corner spot where my friend and I didn’t have to turn sideways to chat with each other.
The best thing about sitting at the bar? Your drinks come much quicker. So our first order of business? Glasses of wine, please! Did we order Sauvignon Blanc? I can’t remember because I was too busy people watching, settling comfortably into my bar stool, feeling pretty darn happy to be back on the NYC food scene, and hanging out with my BFF.
I was pleased to see that the Restaurant Week menu was quite extensive. Oftentimes, you only get a choice of 3 or 4 items but there were 8 items for the First Course and although I knew instantly that I wanted the “Oysters on the Half Shell,” as long as they weren’t French (see this post of the Atlantis Culinary Safari for the reason why), I salivated over the thought of the “Salmon Tartare, yuzu, cucumber, Thai basil, salmon roe” and the “Sweetbreads, sugar snap peas, tarragon, lemon, Fresno chile, ginger”. Oooh, I haven’t had sweetbreads in so long!
The oysters that were served that night were my favorite – Kumamotos – from the West Coast of the US. A small but meaty oyster with a mineral-y aftertaste. For her starter, my friend ordered the cod “Ceviche, watermelon, cucumber” – it was lovely and acidic, fruity and cooling.
For our main course, we also had a choice of 8 varied dishes like “Spiced Grilled Chicken,” a serpent-sounding dish of “Grilled Cobia, caramelized endive, asparagus salad, olive-pine nut vinaigrette” and pasta cut from a guitar-like instrument but sounding more like a Thundercat: “Squid Ink Chitarra, calamari, octopus, shrimp, lemon, Fresno chiles,” Ho!
I guess it goes to show that my friend and I are big carnivores as we opted for the “Berkshire Pork Chop, fava beans, baby carrot spring onion hash” and the “Braised Lamb Shoulder, fingerling potatotes, sweet peas, mint, ginger.” Not a fan of fava beans but they were easy to push aside.
Both dishes were so amazingly good, the meat so juicy and tender, and the sauces so rich that it was almost hard to believe that we were paying $35 for the whole meal instead of for just the entrées.
8 must be the magic number because there were that many desserts to choose from as well. We ended up selecting the “Cheese Plate,” which included 3 difference cheeses, and the “Beignets, vanilla custard, strawberry preserves.” By themselves, the desserts were good but using the beignets as the medium for the cheese – an awesome combination of flavors and texture.
The entire meal plus a glass of white wine costs us $60 each inclusive of taxes and gratuity. I love great deals and this was certainly the best Restaurant Week menu I’ve had yet.
Riverpark is located at 450 E. 29th St at First Ave., New York, NY 10016; (212) 729-9790.