Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Winter RW 2018 - Riverpark

I had hoped to get in a few more lunches with friends for Restaurant Week, but schedules right now are tight.  I decided to take myself to one last place until Restaurant Week comes back at the end of the summer.  Since we're in the middle of watching the latest season of Top Chef, I went with one of the head judge's restaurants, Riverpark.

Open since 2010, Riverpark is all the way over by the East River, so it's not easy to get to.  I was going to take a crosstown bus, but there weren't any coming, so I took a cab.  Even that was a bit of a hassle, with all the closed streets due to the hospitals and medical centers in the area.  But once I got over there, it was a lovely, tranquil spot.  Probably partly because it's a hassle to get to...

Riverpark is a farm-to-table restaurant and part of the farm is just nearby.  The restaurant is inside a huge glass and chrome building, with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the river.  The dining space itself is very inviting with a good noise level and interesting flower arrangements and lighting fixtures throughout.  The service is very pleasant and accommodating - I felt taken care of, but not rushed or smothered.  I appreciated that.

For my first course, I got the burrata, a deliciously creamy, soft cheese.  Even though it had a supplemental fee (which I will mention again later), I had to get it.  One, I love burrata.  Two, it was served with mostarda pears, shallots, pistachio, and ginger snap tuile.  I adore mostarda - savory and sweet in one bite is one of my favorite things.  So we had the soft and creamy, and the savory and sweet.  The pistachios were crunchy and salty, and the ginger snap tuile was earthy and rich.  If I thought the shallots were a little too sharp, well, that's on me.  This was an amazing dish and will absolutely make my year-end list of best dishes.  I loved it.  Oh, and I should mention that my housemade iced tea was also yummy, as was the (tiny) piece of foccacia that came with my drink.  The olive oil served with the bread was peppery and wonderful.  So, all in all, a good start.  

For my main course, I got the braised chicken leg, with autumn squash, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and wheat berries.  This was another delicious dish - the chicken was perfectly cooked and juicy and the skin was nicely seasoned.  The squash was wonderfully prepared and went nicely with the chicken jus/cranberry sauce that covered everything.  It was a rich dish, and a little sweet, and as I was eating I wanted something crunchy and salty.  Not that the dish needed salt, because it was beautifully seasoned throughout, but I just wanted something to break up the lush softness and sweetness.  I now realize that the chef must've forgotten to put the pumpkin seeds on my plate, because I'm sure they were supposed to provide the balance to the dish.  I guess I should've looked at the menu description again as I was eating, but didn't think to.  This quibble doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the dish, I did, it was amazingly delicious, but I think those pumpkin seeds would've completed it and made the experience of eating it even more satisfying.  In my humble, uneducated opinion.  

For dessert, I thought I had seen on the RW website that there would be a pumpkin cake option, which I always enjoy, but that didn't seem to be a choice.  Of course, my love of lemon is such that I would've ordered the meyer lemon mousse regardless of whether or not there was a pumpkin cake option.  I love meyer lemon ANYTHING.  And this was terrific!  It was served with white chocolate clusters, mandarin orange 'caviar', gingersnap crumbs, and praline citrus fluff.  SOOOOOOO good.  Every bite was interesting and different, and each combination was better than the last.  I really loved this dessert and will be thinking about it for a long time.  Ordinarily, I'm not really a fan of white chocolate, but the little chunks of it, mixed with the citrus, was fantastic and unexpected.  Really really yummy.

I enjoyed Riverpark and would love to go back, though maybe not for lunch on a weekday.  It's so cumbersome to get there and back, my lunch hour stretched out maybe a little too much.  But it seems like a gorgeous special occasion place and the bar looked incredible.  I will definitely go back.  And as for that burrata 'supplemental fee'?  They forgot to charge me.  When I looked at my check and saw it missing, I pointed it out to the host and he thanked me for mentioning it, but it wouldn't be necessary to add it.  I hope I didn't get the server into trouble, but I would've felt like a thief if I had left without saying something.  So I left feeling virtuous AND I didn't have to pay the supplement!  Win win, I say!  Oh, RW, I will miss you so.  August is much too far away...

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