Billing itself as “cocina casera” or “home cooking,” this restaurant—from Chef Alex Raij and her husband, Eder Montero—elevates humble cuisine to impressive levels. Product quality is excellent, and the playful spirit behind dishes is the definition of creative cooking. Menu highlights include salmorejo, a delicate and flavorful salt cod carpaccio, and crispy suckling pig, with confit-tender meat. End with melocoton, or wine-poached peaches in a light custard.
Some things in life are worth dressing up for, and a visit to the illustrious River Café is certainly one of them. It enjoys one of the greatest settings of any restaurant, sitting on the East River, in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. The cityscape views are so spectacular, the ordering of a Manhattan as your pre-prandial cocktail seems the only obvious choice. The entire place also oozes romance. A regiment of experienced, white-jacketed waitstaff keep the whole operation ticking along like the well-oiled machine it is. Don’t come thinking that the food here will be playing second fiddle to the stellar views. The ingredients are top-notch and the kitchen team has an inherent understanding of what goes with what—imagine succulent pork belly with scallops for example, or even glistening duck breast with sweet potato spätzle.
By day, this elegant space in the back of Marky's Caviar Shop features wine and bites, but by night it's all about the tasting menu punctuated by caviar at every turn. Meals begin boldly with a tartare of brunoise rainbow trout, mixed with fresh dill and smoked roe, topped with carrot and radish escabeche, and finished with a herbed buttermilk sauce. It's an example where the caviar, or in this case roe, works with the ingredients and even helps to elevate the dish. Served in a blue caviar tin, the chocolate and coffee dessert is a delightful ruse when lifted to reveal the espresso-soaked ladyfinger topped with a coffee panna cotta and layer of chocolate pearls.
This tasting menu-only spot doubles as a gallery. the entrance is as artful as the canvases lining the walls—the host swings a painting over revealing a doorway to the restaurant, where there are just 18 counter seats and a table for six. Watch as the team plates five courses of contemporary French cuisine. An amuse-bouche of chilled quinoa salad tossed with crab and a hint of curry heralds a promising start. Then look out for a particularly satisfying seared duck breast set over a well-seasoned artichoke purée. For dessert, three treatments of lemon—custard, candied peel and sorbet—is cool and refreshing.
This is not the place where you should order by pointing vaguely at the menu—that way lies trouble, as you may have to remortgage your home to pay for the 250 grams of Osetra caviar you’ve just inadvertently requested. Diners, however, will be pleased to discover they now offer more affordable options, like the $60 Pacific sturgeon. On the menu, contemporary dishes show surprising delicacy with a pleasing bias for seafood. You get buzzed in at street level, which adds a bit of mystery to proceedings. Up the stairs and you're inside a lavish jewel box. The only thing missing is James Bond’s nemesis drumming his fingers on the table.
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