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Riverpark, Alexandria Center in Kip's Bay - Chef Bryan Hunt at 450 E. 29th St.


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We had lunch (Saturday 12/17) at Riverpark. Located between 1st Ave and the FDR Drive on 29th St. in Kip's Bay, this Colicchio-owned restaurant overlooks the East River and the Brooklyn waterfront. It occupies the waterside first floor of a stunning science/tech building known as the Alexandria Center. As you walk along 29th street from 1st Ave to the river, you pass by the Riverpark Farm where the vegetables and herbs for the restaurant are grown. At this time of year, most of the beds are of course under heavy plastic.

The interior of the restaurant is understated and the view is great. To the north, you view the Williamsburg bridge and the huge new condos that replaced the enormous Domino's Sugar Plant, the world's largest. To the south, the still low-skyline, light-industrial but increasingly hipster/art scene area dominates. Though it was slightly warm for December, it was too cold for the terrace or the patio. It must be great to sit out there in nice weather, but I wonder about the roar of the traffic on the FDR.

We started off with hibiscus iced tea with lime. Very refreshing, though probably more of a summer drink. We were reluctant to order the house-made cinnamon doughnuts because how could they possibly compare to Tabard's? Hate to admit it, but these blew away Tabard's. They were as light as air and perfect in every way. They serve both the doughnuts and the holes, with a small dish of chocolate dipping sauce. To my mind, chocolate and cinnamon are not a great combo, so I didn't try the chocolate sauce.

Tim had French toast with a side of pork belly. I found the French toast to be too sweet (sans syrup) but otherwise good - not in the least bit soggy, as French toast can often be. The pork belly was perfection.

I had been looking forward to the oysters tacos w/ lime-pickled onions, green tomatos, and cilantro, which reviews have lauded. This is the perfect time to serve oysters, but apparently this dish is no longer offered. I decided to order two starters - lamb sausage with tzadziki (they called it spiced yoghurt dressing which is odd as I would think most people in NY are sophisticated enough to know what tzadziki is and it isn't exactly exotic or rare) and greek yoghurt with sour cherries, poached pears, and granola. Both were wonderful. They should offer the lamb sausage in two sizes, as they do the yoghurt, as the two small pieces were perfect as a starter for an entree, but not as half of a meal.

Our friend/host ordered a cheeseburger. He was happy with it. We were not impressed with how it looked.

I can't comment on the wines. Our host is the expert and he ordered for us. I can only say we enjoyed the wines he selected. None of us had dessert.

It was wonderful to be in this little pocket of peace and quiet, in NYC two weeks before Christmas, steeling ourselves for the craziness of 5th Ave. And speaking of craziness, if you feel a need for a mental tune-up, Bellevue is a short 5-block walk. In fact, as you walk down 29th to the river, you pass the original Bellevue on your left - it is now a homeless shelter.

PS - if you intend to go to NYC for the windows, skip all but Bergdorf's. The others are ho-ho-hum to lame, but Bergdorf's are worth the trip.

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Nice review. I havent been there for brunch yet but we liked our dinner. I guess its time to return. And, by the way, I've been to the other 2 places as well ("...And speaking of craziness, if you feel a need for a mental tune-up, Bellevue is a short 5-block walk. In fact, as you walk down 29th to the river, you pass the original Bellevue on your left - it is now a homeless shelter".)

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Thanks to Drive-by Critic for starting this topic recently. Prompted only by that review, we booked this for a brunch today with friends and really enjoyed it. Great views, attentive service and very good food. The cinnamon donuts were very popular with an 8-year-old (and the adults too). Cod fried with a light crispy corn breading and served with small sweet potato cubes and a poached egg really hit the spot. Likewise others in our group who ordered the french toast, BLT breakfast sandwich replete with pork belly, cheddar and fried green tomato and a few other things I'm forgetting. Oh yeah, the side of roast bananas with maple syrup were very sweet but wonderful if you like that kind of thing. Very nice spot for a weekend brunch with friends and I'd guess for other meals as well.

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