Dazzling View And Four-Star Menu Are RiverView Draws
RiverView Restaurant and Lounge is located in the Avalon, a high-rise apartment building in Long Island City literally at the water’s edge. Its grand opening last week was celebrated beneath a midnight blue winter sky, complete with a full moon that shimmered on the East River and against the dazzling skyline of Manhattan.
Owner Tony Raouf has spared no expense and tended to every detail of the design and construction of RiverView, ensuring that nearly every table in the restaurant is afforded a view of the jewel-like skyline of the metropolis. Even seats that don’t face the river can still enjoy the view through beveled mirrors. The sleek interior combines elements of nature with contemporary design. Warm wood, stone tile floors and richly colored Italian fabric tablecloths and napkins are just some of the details. Square vases full of fresh flowers and hand-blown glass sculptures lend a feeling of warmth and luxury, while soothing music floats in the air. The chic, modern lounge at the restaurant’s entrance will seat 40 patrons in comfort while they sip on a host of elegant, hand-shaken cocktails, martinis, beer or wine from RiverView’s vast cellar. The lounge’s beautiful candle-lit entrance invites every visitor to stop in.
While the view and the ambience could be the stars of the show on their own, they’re joined by the upscale, eclectic menu one would expect to find in restaurants about town. Peter Eljastimi, the charming manager of RiverView, walked us through the menu while the expertly trained chef prepared a tasting menu of quite a few of the restaurant’s signature dishes. We started with creamy butternut squash soup, topped with a swirl of créme fraiche and flanked by grilled shrimp skewers. Tuna tartare was wrapped in paper-thin slices of cucumber and topped with Japanese caviar. Seared sea scallops rested upon sweet corn risotto cakes were surrounded by a pancetta reduction.
As if the food were not good enough, the presentation is practically museum quality, offering a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
Appetizers begin at $10. Classic foie gras is placed atop minced duck resting on toasted bread and is accompanied by green apple salad. RiverView makes all their bread in their own kitchen, including flaky and crisp-crusted rolls served with a tomato tapenade. Mesculin salad with truffle vinaigrette and arugula salad with toasted almonds and shaved parmigiano helped to cleanse our palates between courses.
The highly trained wait staff carefully and quietly whisked away courses, changing silverware for each one, while we gazed out at the matchless view. Entrees range from $16 to $35, making RiverView an affordable luxury and a most impressive place to bring out-of-towners. Of course, RiverView is an idyllic setting for a truly romantic Valentine’s dinner or Sunday brunch. Borrowing from the sea and earth, the menu reflects a small number of the highest quality dishes imaginable. Seared yellow fin tuna accompanied by braised lentils, baby carrots and wax beans melt in the mouth. Oven-roasted wild Alaskan salmon in mussel broth is served with mushroom ragout and pearl onions. Butter-poached Maine lobster is the ultimate indulgence.
Tender rack of Colorado lamb is encrusted in herbs and served with rosemary roasted potatoes. Roasted filet mignon served with taro root puree, sautéed baby bok choy and a drizzle of black truffle sauce is simply sublime. A chef’s specialty is braised short ribs cooked for hours in a red wine reduction. Braised rabbit agnolotti, served with its own braising juice, is one of two pasta dishes offered.
Desserts are equally as delicious and visually stunning as the first two courses. No, you can’t skip dessert. If you did, you wouldn’t know the impossible lightness of the chef’s passion fruit soufflé, or the loftiness of monte blanc, white chocolate mousse with raspberries. Chocolate mousse for two is served with marinated blackberries, while opera interlayers moist almond sponge cake with coffee cream and créme anglaise. Each dessert is whimsically decorated with edible, hand made ribbons of candy.
I still advise you to experience RiverView Restaurant and Lounge for yourself. A private dining room with a view is available for an intimate gathering and don’t forget Valentine’s Day this weekend or a special meal any time. RiverView is open seven days for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, where you’ll find some dinner entrees as well as gourmet sandwiches, crepes, eggs and cornflake-crusted French toast with fresh fruit. Feel free to stop in any time and soak in the ambience and fine cocktails of the lounge. When the warm weather comes, outdoor tables will overlook breathtaking sunsets. I’ll just have to go there again.
2-01 50th Ave.
Long Island City