Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer 2011 Restaurant Week Review : River Cafe in Brooklyn

We were able to score a reservation to the River Cafe in Brooklyn for Restaurant Week, with lunch being the only available option.  The three course meal for lunch costs $24 ($35 for dinner).  The restaurant is so named because of the stunning views it has of the city from Brooklyn.  It's right on the water right under the Brooklyn Bridge.  If you make a reservation early enough for lunch and dinner, there is also a free valet service (space permitting).  It is a bit of a walk from the nearest train or from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Inside the restaurant it has a very classic feel....large piano, a HUGE display of fresh flowers, and of course the view of the city.  Unfortunately, this is where atmosphere trumps the food.  While the restaurant has a very classic feel, their approach to food itself also feels a bit dated, at least with the restaurant week menu.  However, it's also possible that the $24 three course menu may not be a great indicator of the type of food they serve (a six course tasting menu is over $125).

For appetizer, we got the lamb meatballs, with a peppercorn gravy and potato puree topped with a chip.  Though the combination is classic and flavors familiar, it was probably the heartiest dish of the meal.

The fluke tirado had too much cocunut and was somewhat clunky...it needed more of a citrus counterbalance.  

Shrimp Dumplings with Lobster Consomme.  The broth is nice and light, but the shrimp dumplings were forgettable.

Crispy Duck Breast over polenta.  The biggest issue here is the duck.  It's a very small portion and for some reason the texture of the meat was a bit weird and gummy unlike most duck I've had.  It also wasn't properly rested and was bleeding a bit into the polenta as you can see in the picture.  The corn and pickled onions were a nice touch though.  

Compare the above duck dish to L'Ecole's restaurant week duck dish and it's not even close!  
It was prepared two ways (with leg confit on top of curried leeks)

The swordfish paillard (forgot to take a picture of it) was pretty good though.  It's served in a 
green cilantro sauce that was refreshing and served with some whipped potatoes.

Dessert was solid.  It was a tasting of three mini desserts that presentation-wise was cute..the standard creme brulee, a blueberry tart, and a scoop of strawberry ice cream with graham crackers.  Again, solid but the desserts were a bit dated and unremarkable.

  Again, the atmosphere is beautiful and is a great spot for a dinner date.  But if the restaurant week menu is any indicator of the actual food they serve, I would pass...

River Cafe
(718) 522-5200
1 Water St
(between W Cadman Plz & Brooklyn Brg)
BrooklynNY 11201

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