The River Cafe, a 1 Michelin-starred restaurant boasting Manhattan’s skyline and Brooklyn Bridge in one sweeping view, is an all-American fine dining experience. The Michelin star is a guide that was established by a French tyre company in the 1900s, to award excellence to establishments and destinations. One star indicates a “very good restaurant”; two stars indicate a place “worth a detour”; three stars mean “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey”.
In 2017, The River Cafe celebrated its 40th year and yet it still continues to attract visitors around the globe, being one of the pioneer restaurants to bring the concept of farm-to-table dining. The owner Michael O’Keeffe, an Irish American descent, wanted the cafe to be “a fine American restaurant with professional service that was not uptight.” In a New York Times article, it is stated that “Mr. O’Keeffe maintains that fine dining is a compact of mutual respect. If a gentleman arrives without a suit jacket, one is provided. If a guest’s comportment is deemed inappropriate, it is noticed.”
Ambience starts off from the time you step into the vicinity of The River Cafe. Their entrance grounds are decorated with warm fairy lights, with the added background of the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan skyline view. Arriving in our Uber, we are welcomed by two young men who opened the entrance to the building. There is a couple of doors leading up to the restaurant, but once we arrive at the main entrance, the host warmly asks for our reservation details and hands us to the maître d’ to be seated.
The restaurant presentation is cinematic, with its unparalleled view, fetching flowers, European rattan chairs, and dining-ware to match. The room though seems a bit tight, with tables only an arm’s length away, but the atmosphere has a sophisticated charm, which frames this experience as a perfect New York moment.
Sensory pleasures all around, from how it looked, smelt and finally to how it tasted was a divine experience that one can grow accustomed to. Below is my set of order:
1. Three Shells A variety of chilled shellfish fresh abalone, citrus, soy, lime Kumamoto oysters, cucumber Champagne mignonette Taylor Bay scallop ceviche, sea bean, tomato, coriander
Nova Scotia lobster, cooked two ways, squid ink gnocchi
3. Goat Cheese Cheesecake white chocolate ~ mango ganache, hibiscus flower gelée, mango sorbet
The memorable dish of the night was the Lobster, cooked in two ways. First, the lobster tail is cooked in butter and the second lobster is pulled apart cooked entirely in a different way to the lobster tail, with grainy toppings that complement each other in flavour and texture. We ordered 2 rounds of wine, trying to pair each of our meals with recommendations from the waiter.
Definitely, save this for more of a special occasion. Our experience was for our 12th year anniversary. Birthdays and proposals would be suitable.
As previously mentioned in the ambiance section, from the get-go of stepping into their restaurant, service was present and impeccable. The simple touches they dotted our night with, was purely impressive as perhaps expected, as you are paying at least $130USD per person. From the warm host to our cheeky food-runners who prepared a Happy Anniversary sign on our dessert plates, was a surprising touch as we did not inform anyone in the restaurant. All in all a delightful evening, where we did not feel to be breaking any fine dining etiquette, as we photographed at everything that we wanted to remember or found to be beautiful.
For 2 adults and 1 child cost us $600USD, VAT and 20% service charge included.
The River Cafe
Address: One Water Street – Brooklyn, NY
Telephone: 11201 718-522-5200
Open 365 days of the year
Dinner: Daily: 5:30pm – 11:00pm
Breakfast: Monday-Friday 8:30am-11:30am
Lunch: Saturday: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Brunch: Sunday: 11:30am – 2:30pm
When you are spending an absurd amount of US dollars, you want to make sure you are getting your money’s worth. In the listless amounts of Michelin restaurants in New York City, why did we choose this one? In a city where real estate primes on its view, we were lucky to have a moment here and the rest of our list all ticked. Professional yet friendly service, check. Sumptuous and extravagant meals to make an occasion special, check. And finally creating that New York magic with the Manhattan skyline, check.
Visited: 24th October 2017
The River Cafe at night
Inside the restaurant
With our entree
My entree: Three Shells, a variety of chilled shellfish fresh abalone, citrus, soy, lime Kumamoto oysters, cucumber Champagne mignonetteTaylor Bay scallop ceviche, sea bean, tomato, coriander
My husband’s entree: Scottish Salmon lightly smoked over fruitwood, salmon and Yukon gold potato roulade,“fried” hen egg, caraway dressing, wild Hackleback caviar toast
My daughter’s entree: Oysters East Coast Wellfleet and West Coast Kumamoto oysters, chilled on the half shell with lemon pepper granita
To the celebrants of 12 years
My Main: Lobster Nova Scotia lobster, cooked two ways, squid ink gnocchi
Husband’s main: Crescent Farms Duckapple~honey and spice crusted breast, roasted root vegetables and farro, wild huckleberry sauce
Daughter’s main: Organic Salmon lightly grilled Pacific Chinook with Meyer lemon,aromatic jasmine rice, shiitake ~ miso consommé
Wine pairing with our mains, hers
Wine pairing with our mains, his
Mother and daughter
My dessert: Goat Cheese Cheesecake white chocolate ~ mango ganache, hibiscus flower gelée, mango sorbet
Husband’s dessert: Pistachio Semifreddo pistachio dacquoise, Pixie tangerine sorbet,Pixie tangerine chip
My daughter’s dessert: Sorbet cranberry, apple cider and buttermilk sorbets, chiffon cake with fall spices
Entrance to The River Cafe