River Café

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Recently my wife Jun and I celebrated our first year anniversary since we became couples. How time flies so quickly! I was looking for a special place to celebrate that we hadn’t been to (after all, we’ve been to A LOT OF restaurants…), and found River Café that sits beneath the iconic Brooklyn Bridge that we cross on weekends from time to time. The restaurant has been an old school classic until it shuttered during Hurricane Sandy. I don’t know how the restaurant looked before the hurricane, but the décor inside and outside was absolutely charming, and the killer view of East River from our table was definitely something to remember for our special day. The food at River Café was overall satisfying as well.

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Fresh Abalone with Citrus, Soy, Lime, Kumomoto Oysters with Cucumber Champagne Mignonette and Taylor Bay Scallop Ceviche with Sea Bean, Tomato, Coriander
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Pacific Blue Shrimp, Alaskan King Crabmeat, Spring White Asparagus, Citrus Maltaise Sauce
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Atlantic Halibut, Green Peppercorn Au Poivre Sauce, Maitake Mushroom, Garden Pea and Pickled Baby Onion

At River Café, you can opt for three-course prix fixe at $130 per person or six-course signature tasting menu at $160 per person. For our special day, we wanted a full experience so went for the latter option. The dishes from River Café tend to be on the classical side than the inventive. The tasting menu felt a little bit dated that way, and there were some issues with seasoning or execution. Jun thought adding soy to the fresh abalone was a total overkill, and I wasn’t quite sold on the scallop ceviche in the first dish. On the other hand, I liked the refined shrimp and king crabmeat accompanied by citrus Maltaise sauce that gave a nice flavor to the gently touched seafood (although Jun thought the flavor was a bit overpowering).

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Seared Foie Gras with Strawberry Jam
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Niman Ranch Strip Steak with Wine Mushroom Marmalade
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Bone Marrow Duchess Potato

Atlantic halibut that came next was nicely cooked, but we both left wondering why the maitake mushroom on top of the fish came out so salty. One of my favorites during our meal was the seared foie gras. I was pleasantly surprised that the kitchen brought out strawberry jam underneath the tender foie gras that added something new to the table. On the other hand, strip steak didn’t come out the juicy medium rare that we typically like our steak to be. It was still a good steak nonetheless, with minimum seasoning just the way we prefer (the side dish of bone marrow Duchess potato and red wine mushroom marmalade next to the meat helped with adding flavor). Of the two desserts that came out, we liked the refreshing touch of coconut sorbet and raspberry granita, but the “Brooklyn Bridge” chocolate was too sweet, even for a sweet tooth like Jun.

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Coconut Sorbet and Raspberry Gratina
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Brooklyn Bridge

I didn’t get much issue getting a reservation about two weeks in advance, but the restaurant was packed with a good mix of locals and tourists during our meal. There is full bar with some surprisingly affordable wine options in the expansive list. As noted above, the atmosphere is definitely a stunner at River Café so if you’re looking for an awesome view while dining for a special occasion, this place is a nice option to consider for your next special anniversary. The restaurant requires jackets for all gentlemen, so bear that in mind as well. We wished our meal at River Café were as magical as the view of Brooklyn Bridge above us, but still there was enough to like about from the sophistication of cooking that we wouldn’t mind coming back for another trip to Brooklyn. I look forward to more restaurant trips with my beloved wife for years to come!

KenScale: 8.0/10

  • Creativity: 7.5/10
  • Execution: 8.0/10
  • Ingredients: 8.5/10
  • Flavor: 8.0/10
  • Texture: 8.0/10
  • Value: 7.0/10

Address: 1Water Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Telephone: (718) 522-5200

Website: https://rivercafe.com/

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