The River Café - Brooklyn, NY

Everyone's heard the old joke "If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you."  Well, not only did Michael Buzzy O'Keeffe believe, but he took it a step further and bought the desolate building underneath that bridge. It's also a coincidence that the famous saying was based on the site in question, the Brooklyn Bridge. It took twelve years of convincing the city council before Mr.O'Keeffe received approval to build in 1974, and three years later The River Café (TRC), as we know it today, opened its doors on the banks of the East River. 

Today, one of New York's longest running restaurants, TRC requests that dinners who are arriving by motor vehicle call ahead to announce their arrival. Why? Since the restaurant is in a rather high traffic area they have an attendant who monitors their private roadway and only expected patrons are let through. As guests ride down the cobble stone road, a plethora of trees, bushes and thick greenery transport them to a fairytale-like garden. Inside, more towering plants and stunning floral arrangements by Maureen Hayden Andariese. Through the entrance lobby and over the bridge... yes, part of the restaurant is on an actual floating barge, which I only realized during my second visit. And then it hits you...the iconic panoramic view of Manhattan's Financial District city scape. Imposing sky scrapers so close, yet seem a world away from TRC's quaint & quiet retreat from the city. If you should get so lucky you'll be seated by the window, if not, you can still enjoy the view from anywhere in the dining room, or while imbibing at the small bar - a Manhattan cocktail seems fitting. For a social media worthy snapshot and unobstructed views, don't miss the small terrace outside.

The cuisine has been classic American from day one. Today still, Brad Steelman and his team are committed to using only the finest quality ingredients to serve balanced & satisfying fare which will force your eyes away from the view and back to your dish. The restaurant's dedication to operate only at the highest levels has produced the most world class Chefs by any American restaurant,(including Charlie Palmer of Aureole), one of which, Larry Forgione, being the first to coin the term "free range chicken". These efforts have led to recognitions such as One Michelin star, the Distinguished Restaurants of North America award, and named one the Top Five Restaurants in New York by *Gault et Millau, to mention a few. *For my hometown readers, Montreal is the only Canadian city that Gault et Millau reviews, so visit their website next time you're looking for a restaurant recommendation...or just contact me!*(2023 update - Gault et Millau no longer have guides for North America). I hope that this piece helps illustrate even part of the magical experience at The River Café.

October 2023

Chilled Shellfish - Sea Scallop Ceviche, Mango and Lime, Australian Abalone with Citrus Ponzu Sauce, Beau Soleil Oysters on the Half Shell, Cucumber Champagne Mignonette

The River Café driveway

Amuse Bouche -
Parmesan Custard Potato Tuile, Shiitake Miso Consommé, Smoked Steelhead Trout

Wagyu Steak Tartare - Hand Cut Kobe Style Beef with Quail Egg,
Cognac Gelée, Traditional Garnish, Toast Points

Fois Gras Poiêlé - Sauteéd Duck Foie Gras, Pell Farms Strawberry Brulée,
Pistachio Pain Perdu, Strawberry Vinegar Reduction

Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge

Crescent Farms Duck Breast - Spiced Cider Crust, Confit Risotto Cake,
Pomegranate Gastrique, Foie Gras Sauce, Brussel Sprout Leaves

Lobster - Butter poached Nova Scotia Lobster Tail, Lobster Cake,
Grilled Baby Bok Choy, Meyer lemon, Fresh Hearts of Palm

Coffee Soufflé - Espresso Caramel, Lemon Sherbet, Cardamom Biscotti

June 2019

Amuse Bouche - Smoked Sturgeon Brandade, Red Beet Gel, Caraway Potato Tuile

The River Café Interior

The River Café Charger 

Wild Pacific Blue Shrimp, Alaskan King Crab Meat, White Asparagus, Citrus Maltaise Sauce

Manhattan's Financial District City Scape

The River Cafe & Brooklyn Bridge - Source - New York Times

Roasted Rabbit - Herb Wrapped Rabbit Loin, 21 Layer Rabbit Bolognese Lasagna,
Brooklyn Ricotta, Rabbit Jus

Crescent Farms Apple Honey & Spice Crusted Duck, Roasted Root Vegetable & Farro,
Wild Huckleberry Sauce

Yoghurt Semifredo - Toasted Almond Streusel, Summer Peaches, Peach Sorbet

The River Café in 1975 Source - The New York Times

Brooklyn Bridge from TRC's Entrance

Manhattan by night

Regular readers of Dined There, Sipped That may have noticed that this is the most non-food photography I've shared, and they would be correct, but can you blame me? The River Café has been named "One of the most beautiful restaurants in America" by several publications, including this one. The Michelin guide states "some things in life are worth dressing up for", to be quite literal as TRC enforces a "jackets required" dress code, which I appreciate in an ever more casual dining world. So pack your Sunday best and don't miss The River Café next time you're in the city. For more information visit .

From the epitome of American classics to the leaders of experimental cuisine in America, have a look at Alinea in Chicago, here.


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