Riverpark: A Tom Colicchio Restaurant

Modern American, Notable Chef, Farm to Table
http://www.riverparknyc.com/
450 East 29th Street – Kip’s Bay

We’re big fan’s of Tom Colicchio and Craft is still among our top favorite restaurants in New York City. The location of Riverpark is unique and a bit of a culinary no man’s land, so it has taken longer than we’d like to admit to go check it out! For the past year I thought he moved into the River Club, which by the way is about a block north on the water.

After reading up on it a bit, Riverpark is a rather unique place. Built in ‘Alexandria Plaza,’ Riverpark Farm is actually a 15,000 square foot urban farm which supplies the restaurant and serves as a green space within Alexandria Center for Life Science. The farm actually serves large format meals for 8-12 people using local meats/fish and the daily harvest of the farm outside smack in the middle of the plantings.

We actually saw this part driving in and really weren’t too sure where the restaurant was.  It turned out to be in an office building overlooking the FDR.  Website photos are carefully cropped to not show traffic.  While there’s a view of the East River, it isn’t located directly on the water.  However, it was lovely having Colicchio fare outdoors!  Forgive the lack of photos, as I couldn’t find a way to cut out the cars.  The site photographer clearly got low – to table level to get his shots!

The decor is similar to the former Craftsteak, current Colicchio and Sons design with mid-century modern furnishings, high ceilings and wine suspended in glass.  But we were there for the outdoor experience, which offers two options.  First, there is ‘Patio’ dining, which is essentially an extension of the interior space.  Outdoor tables have Chilowich placemats and a banquette with tons of pillows surrounds the patio.  This is the more formal of the two outdoor dining areas.  The second space, the ‘Terrace,’ only feet away, has nicely spaced ‘picnic tables’ with communal seating.  They are quite large and well designed for picnic tables, but nonetheless qualify!  Since this is located in a corporate (if the Alexandria Center for Life Science can be considered corporate) area, it feels like an after work drink and nosh location with plenty of space for tons of people.  It is very casual and serves the ‘bar menu.’ Additionally, there is a WichCraft on site.  It is a veritable Collichio-fest.

The food delivered, but service was a bit slow.  We were cool with that.  It was nice not to be rushed through the meal.  Consistent with Tom Colicchio’s other menus, there were some giant meat entrees.  We were in a light fare mood.  There was a rather nice pasta section, but we filled ourselves up with starters and bar menu items before we could get there.  We began with the East Coast Oysters and Manila Clams on the 1/2 shell and a glass of prosecco to celebrate – it was our 14th Anniversary last night.  The clams were interesting, perfect tiny little clams, but apparently too tiny to shuck properly.  I ate most of them, as Steve wasn’t a big fan.  The oysters were great.

East Coast Oysters on the 1/2 Shell $15/half dozen
Manila Clams on the 1/2 Shell $15/half dozen

At the same time we were served our two appetizers, which unfortunately got cold while we ate our raw selections.  Both had absolutely amazing flavors, however.  I was a fan of the Thai basil with the prawns and the octopus had a delicate miso broth with bok choy.

Prawn with Thai Basil, Grilled Peppers, Radishes $17

Baby Octopus with Manila Clams, lime, Cilantro & Chile Oil

We ordered what turned out to be the last of our food from the ‘bar menu.’  We could not resist trying the fried oyster tacos and the fried chicken with biscuits.  The chicken was served with peppered honey, which was absolutely incredible poured over the biscuits.  This did us in. Even though the serving was moderate, we could not finish it.

Oyster Tacos, Green Tomatoes, Lime Pickled Onions, jalapeños and cilantro $5/each

Fried Chicken, Biscuits, Black Pepper Honey $17

As you can see from the pictures, presentation was phenomenal here as well.  Light was great outside, which didn’t hurt either.  We enjoyed Riverpark, and recommend trying it at least once.  However, we prefer some of Tom’s other locations.  If you have need for a large format meal, I am betting the Riverpark Farm is an amazing experience.

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