We have been to many restaurants for NYC Restaurant Week at this point, and we’ve found some great choices and some poor choices, which makes it hard to find new places worth sampling each year. But this year, we decided that Restaurant Week (through Februrary 8, 2013 so far this winter) was a great opportunity to try one of Tom Colicchio‘s newest choices, Riverpark.
I really like how many Colicchio restaurants handle Restaurant Week. Rather than serve a “wedding food” (beef, pork, or fish) version of their menu, they serve their regular menu and the items that require a higher price to produce include an incremental charge, noted on the menu (base price is $38). Here was the menu on January 20, 2013:
For the Restaurant Week price of $38, we were able to choose an item from the left side plus an item from the main section, with a dessert. You could substitute pasta (a larger portion for entree) for either course.
The building was a bit hard to find. It is located near the East River on 29th Street and the FDR, in a complex called the Alexandria Center. Our taxi wasn’t sure where to find it, so he dropped us off on the corner of 30th Street and the FDR access road and we walked down what looked like an industrial part of the city near the back of the hospital. We took a chance and walked up some stairs and found it there at the top, inside the building.
The decorations are very modern, with clean, perpendicular lines, much like Colicchio and Sons.
The lights above our table were kind of cool and modern, but also a bit seizure inducing after a few drinks.
We started our night with cocktails. Mike got the “Colonel Mustard” with mustard infused white rum, thyme honey, lime, and candied bacon. It was fantastic. Heavy on the thyme and a perfect balance of flavors.
I tried the “Spiced & Spiked” though without the “spiced” since that was homemade hot sauce (which would have peppers, which I’m allergic to). It had hot apple cider, Goslings Rum, and clove. Even without the hot sauce, this was very delicious and well balanced. I wanted something hot on this very cold night, and this hit the spot.
We added a half-dozen oysters to our Restaurant Week selection, with 3 East Coast (Barnstable) and 3 West Coast (Shigokus). They were both divine, but the west coast Shigokus were especially fantastic.
We then decided to try a bottle of wine. There was a section dedicated to Orange Wines which were described as “interesting and funky.” We have a love for Russian River Valley wines (especially Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) so when we saw one on the menu under the Orange variety, we decided why not try something interesting and funky. We really enjoyed this wine. It was easily drinkable, dry without being puckering, and went well with food and stood up on its own. A very enjoyable wine.
I then tried the Kabocha Custard & Crab Fondue with crispy black trumpet mushrooms and spiced pumpkin seeds (which I went without in my dish due to my allergy). This was sensational. A touch of sweet, delicious squash, fresh crab, and a slight crispy from the mushrooms. A great balance. This is the second custard from a Colicchio restaurant that really impressed.
Mike tried the Testa Tortellini with pears, walnuts, sage, mustard seed, and spiced consomme. Sadly, I couldn’t try it due to my allergy, but Mike said it was a great balance of flavors. The waiter said he should try everything in one bite and he would realize why the pear, tortellini and consomme was put together and sure enough, the layers of flavors were fantastic with the rich broth and the fresh pear. Everything together was delicious.
For our entrees, Mike chose the 20 oz. bone-in dry aged sirloin, which came with a $20 supplement charge. It was with cipollini onions, charred shisito peppers (which they put on the side so I could try it), and tempura hen of the woods mushrooms. The char on this was fan.freakin.tastic. And the tempura-ed mushrooms were really fantastic on this. An all around awesome cut of meat. If you order this when it is not Restaurant Week, the steak alone is $50. So for the $38 base price of Restaurant Week and the $20 supplement fee, the value of the app and the dessert came to a mere $8. Not too shabby.
These were the peppers that were put on the side, which Mike said added a nice depth of flavor without being too spicy.
I chose the Berkshire Pork Chop with Brussels sprout apple hash and parsnip puree. This was absolutely incredible. A slight sweetness from the apples complimented by the slight bitterness of the sprouts. And the pork itself was a perfect foil to both. Incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I picked up that bone with my fingers to get off any last morsel. Totally worth it.
Then we had our choice of desserts (a tough choice indeed) and we also chose to order dessert wine (Domaine des Schistes, a muscat).
I chose the Chocolate Souffle Cake with coffee ice cream and chocolate crumble. This was a lovely dessert with warm souffle cake, with a nice balance of bittersweet and sweet with the chocolate and a great compliment with the coffee ice cream.
But Mike chose the Beer Sundae with Guinness Cake, oatmeal stout ice cream, butterscotch, chocolate pretzel, and candied walnuts. While my chocolate souffle was very good, this was just damn special. It was unique flavors with a perfect balance of salty and sweet. It was a fantastic, inspired dessert. Really, really fantastic.
Our food throughout the meal with simply spectacular. We paid a number of up-charges, but I am very certain that we would have enjoyed our meals just as much had we stuck with the Restaurant Week prices and not paid for any of the supplements or additional drinks/supplements. But half the fun of Restaurant Week is being able to save money so you CAN pay for those lovely extras.
This is how you do Restaurant Week. Offer your regular menu so no one feels that they are missing out and just give people a chance to really enjoy your restaurant with a nice introduction.
Well played Riverpark. You have made the list of “where to eat for Restaurant Week.”
Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10