The best gifts always come in the form of food! An NYC Restaurant Week meal of my choice, a belated Chanukah gift from my mom, was obviously the perfect present for a foodie like me! Restaurant Week is such a wonderful thing. During this time, loads of very fancy NYC restaurants make fine dining a bit more affordable, offering prix-fixe three-course menus. It’s a great excuse to eat some amazing food.
I selected Riverpark because it’s one of the restaurants owned by Tom Colicchio, an absolute IDOL of mine. Colicchio, a James Beard Award-Winning chef and restaurateur, is most well-known as one of the OG judges of Top Chef (SPOILER who else is pissed that Fatima got off last week????!). I’ve also always admired Colicchio’s passion for service and political activism; he’s constantly lobbying for anti-hunger policy and sustainability in the food industry.
Located in the Alexandria Center which overlooks the East River, Riverpark is known for its farm-to-table, seasonal cuisine. Tom Colicchio always emphasises to Top Chef contestants how important it is to let the ingredients speak for themselves, and at Riverpark, he practices what he preaches. Every dish is artfully crafted* to let the the fresh ingredients not only speak for themselves, but shine and sing and dance with beautiful flavor!
*a subtle pun because one of his other restaurants is called Craft…
As an appetizer, I ordered the Octopus Carpaccio. I’ve eaten octopus a few times mixed into seafood dishes, and I’ve always enjoyed it, but it really is not something I typically order or eat on its own. I just had a really good feeling about the intriguing combination of ingredients it was served with; cauliflower, carrots, apples, hazelnuts, cilantro, and madras curry are not things I typically associate with tentacles, but I was down for it.
The octopus, sliced just slightly more than paper thin, tasted like the ocean in a beautiful way. It was so fresh, and the briny flavor was balanced by bright herbs and the silky smooth madras curry sauce. I typically expect spiciness from something labeled as curry, but the spice was tamed by something luscious and creamy, giving it a taste and feel closer to dijon mustard. It was lovely. The apples were carved into little domes– I thought they were half-peeled grapes actually until I bit into one and was surprised by the cool, crisp bite!
This dish was a delicate, ocean-meets-forest delight!
For my main, I ordered the Smoked Brisket.
WOW. There was so much flavor in this tender, juicy piece of meat. It was spectacular. I couldn’t pinpoint an exact flavor or seasoning which was totally okay because the meat itself was the star.
It was served with broccoli rabe, one of my low-key favorite vegetables (broccoli rabe is way underrated, right? It should just be in everything always), nutty and earthy spiced beech mushrooms, and melt-in-your mouth potato confit. The green sauce underneath, may have been pureéd spinach? Peas? I’m not sure honestly, but it served a purpose, making the potatoes somehow even more velvety and delicious.
My mouth is watering just thinking about it. UGH it was SO GOOD.
My mom ordered Cavatelli, served in a cauliflower sauce with rosemary and pecorino and topped with bread crumbs.It was absolutely addicting… I couldn’t stop sneaking bites from her plate!
Then, dessert! I went for the Maple Creme Brulée. The maple was not at all overpowering; it gave just the right gentle essence to this lovely dessert. I could taste the vanilla bean in the creme brulée distinctly as well, and the flamed sugar on top gave just the right satisfying crack when lightly hit with my spoon.
It was served with tart, sweet poached apples and pickled raisins as well as a pecan-date streusel, which was basically just the most delicious trail mix you could ever imagine.
Mom’s Matcha Grapefruit Pavlova was STUNNING and just as gorgeous in flavor. It was served with beet coulis, honey cream, crispy sesame quinoa.
Needless to say, Riverpark was a success. Simple, yet so unique, brilliantly flavorful, yet understated, this restaurant’s got it right!
Enjoy! 🙂 Love, The Perky Foodie