Since we moved in together after our marriage, my wife Jun and I have been pretty satisfied with our neighborhood in Manhattan’s Financial District. It is still evolving with new attractions like the Oculus and Brookfield Place without being overly crowded with tourists, while also being close to all the cool Downtown and Brooklyn neighborhoods. One aspect that could still get better, though, is in the food department. Even with such solid additions like Augustine, FiDi certainly could use more of new good restaurants. Enter Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group with an ambitious new project on the 60th floor of a building just two minutes walking distance from our apartment. NYC already has a bunch of restaurants with awesome skylines, but you don’t often come across those with great food, naturally because the kitchens are not particularly incentivized to deliver for the crowd that is more interested in Instagramming the city’s view than engaging in a more serious culinary exercise. I figured Mr. Meyer’s group, however, would not so easily give up on the quality of food coming out from the kitchen, and on our recent visit, we had plenty to like about many of the dishes that we sampled.
There is no a la carte option at Manhatta’s dining area; you have to commit to a three-course prix fixe at $78 per person. As with all Danny Meyer establishments, the price includes service charges so in terms of value proposition, it is not too terrible, especially when the kitchen is able to present dishes that are consistently well-executed. No individual dish on the menu particularly jumped out at us when we were deciding what to order, but that doesn’t mean we had a boring meal. Fluke tartare with jalapeno, tarragon and endive had a nice textural touch and balanced flavor, while the lobster quenelle with spring onions and trumpet mushrooms should be on every table with all ingredients working together beautifully for a great appetizer. Jun has a pretty high standard when it comes to duck dishes, and she ate the crescent duck that came with broccolini, orange and spaghetti squash with an approving nod.
For the main dish, I slightly preferred the turbot that came with grapes, almonds and brown butter. The fish was quite capably cooked, and the addition of rich brown butter gave a new dimension to the fish without overpowering it with flavor bomb. The best dishes at Manhatta that we sampled turned out to be desserts. Chocolate cremeux with pate a choux (a type of light dough used in various French pastries) and caramel miso ice cream had a ton of depth in its flavor that we very much enjoyed. Our consensus favorite, though was the vanilla soufflé that was simply pure decadence. The moment Jun put a spoon into the center of the soufflé, we instantly knew we were going to love it. It was simply a marvelous dish that will definitely be one of the best dessert dishes we’ve had in 2018! We’ve had some fantastic soufflé dishes before in the city and elsewhere, but I couldn’t quite remember at the moment a dish as good as the one at Manhatta.
Thanks to its sky-high location, Manhatta is still one of the most difficult tables to secure since its opening this summer so do plan ahead. There are two dining spaces, one on the inside and another next to the bar area; we were seated in the latter so the noise coming from the bar was slightly distracting but did not rise to the level of interfering with our meal. There is full bar with a fairly diverse wine list and standard cocktail lists. If you are looking to have a special night without breaking the bank, Manhatta does seem to offer a solution that works for multiple occasions, whether it is going on a date or introducing your parents to your boyfriend (we witnessed both scenes happening next to us actually). Behind all the glamour from the skyline view, I’m glad Manhatta still retains the Union Square Hospitality Group’s core value of serving high-quality food that emphasizes the use of fresh ingredients and consistent execution. Jun and I certainly will be back in the future, especially if the reservation line starts easing up.
KenScale: 8.25/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.25/10)
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 28 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10005
Telephone: (212) 230-5788