RCRiver Café, Brooklyn
Michelin stars: 1
Addr: 1 Water St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States
URL: http://therivercafe.com
Phone: 1 718-522-5200
Type of cuisine: American / Cosmopolitan.

The River Café (near the Brooklyn Bridge) is an iconic restaurant (an interesting article about their history can be found here) widely known as one of the most romantic restaurants of New York city.

I was looking forward to share a special romantic dinner  with the Missus,  and the River Café was the appropriate restaurant in this instance.

One unique / truly special romantic restaurant with an exceptional riverfront view over Manhattan, and one that chose not to rest on its laurels as even the food is not an afterthought. This is proper 1 star Michelin American/Cosmopolitan cooking.

The meal started with an amuse of Citrus and Olive Oil Poached Squid with Saffron Panna Cotta and sweet pepper Gelee. Pretty to espy and an indication that, although using classic French techniques, the creativity of this kitchen brigade is hard to ignore: the variety of colors is thoughtful, a cube of saffron panna cotta  with some poached squid is not a usual combination of food items at most restaurants, and yet they were complementary. My only regret is that I have familiarized  my palate with strong flavors to the extent that I was having hard time appreciating the subtle flavors of this amuse. My loss! I will not rate this amuse as I just do not have the required palate  to appreciate it.

RC2Tuna — of prime quality served as a tartare with a layer of thin slices of the fish atop — was my pick. This showcased a great understanding of how to get the most out of raw fish (well judged seasoning allowing the quality of the fish to be at the forefront while lifting up its natural flavor – I did not ask the staff if they did age the tuna a little bit, so I am not too sure if they did, but that was the effect I had in mouth and it dazzled. Miso/valencia orange/ pickled chili vinaigrette brought necessary complexity. 8/10

RC3The Missus went for their offering of Jumbo shrimps. These were  poached to ideal doneness (tender while retaining a nice chew) served alongside a faultless citrus Maltaise sauce. Another display of some serious seafood cooking (superb produce, classic flavor combination but mastered really well). Both the Missus and myself thought highly of this food item.  8/10

RC5Steamed (with meyer lemon) salmon was another pick of the Missus. This dish featured an inspired  oriental broth (a shiitake mushroom broth that was as vibrant as some of its original Japanese renditions) that was particularly delicious, the aromas of the broth exciting and above all, balanced. This was served with jasmine rice. Again, another offering that we both thoroughly enjoyed. 8/10

RC4Poached lobster was another display of superb produce and great mastery of classical cooking technique, the seafood tasted great, its poaching well timed, the  flavors enticing. If cooking using classic technique done this well is one’s definition of boring cooking, then I’d rather get bored lol. This came with lobster claw, spinach gratin and lobster infused marinara, squid ink cavatelli pasta (tiny quantity, wished I had more as that was  some great pasta that would not be considered as average in a good Italian restaurant ). 9/10

RC6Milk chocolate soufflé (served with toasted marshmallow, hot fudge, Tahitian vanilla bean ice milk) was risen properly but milk chocolate needs to be exciting at smell and in mouth to leave an impression. As with everything at the RC, this chocolate was of top quality, admittedly, but the soufflé was unexciting for my taste. Furthermore, when I see the mention of “milk”, I want to be blown away by some bold fresh milky fragrance….which was not the case with this dessert.  6/10

RC7Blueberry tartlet was  a proper rendition of the tartlet, the fruits of stellar quality, but the pastry lacking a bit of the exciting buttery fragrance that I prefer when enjoying a tartlet. Actually, this was made of caramelized almond which does  normally express very appealing flavor, but that was not put in evidence  6/10

So, YES, this was a romantic dinner, obviously. But both the Missus and myself are not the type to get “suckered by the hype”  of such event. Love is beautiful, indeed, but it should never  alter your accuracy. It certainly did not alter the accuracy of both the  Missus (a hard to please and experienced diner with cooking skills that can make many Chefs salivate, actually, therefore one who knows her food really well )  and myself: we both thought that, overall, the River Café is a world class restaurant, and that the only thing we hope they could improve upon are the desserts.

 

Pros: One unique / truly special romantic restaurant with an exceptional riverfront view over Manhattan, and one that chose not to rest on its laurels as even the food is not an afterthought.

Cons: A bit more “excitement” (milk should be packed with bold lactic fresh flavor, caramelized almond should have the almond and caramel flavors better expressed, etc) is to be expected from the pastry creations I have sampled on that evening.

Overall food rating: 7.5/ 10 (Category: North American/Cosmopolitan 1 star Michelin). It may sound harsh to score an overall 7.5/10 for the food after the series of really good savory dishes, but this is a 1 star Michelin, therefore the desserts needed to leave an impression too. They were good desserts, not great enough for a 1 star Michelin. That said, this is proper 1 star Michelin American/Cosmopolitan cooking. It is, of course, pricey, but you have  a world class romantic destination, coupled with a cuisine of  top quality,  excellent service and a  million-dollar river view.

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