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River Cafe: pro and con

s
steve d. Apr 15, 1999 04:10 PM

Well, I just got back from my corporate lunch, and I have to say my impression was not as exclusively positive as I had hoped. The view is wonderful, of course (though not as good as the view from Jersey City -- one of the few things I'll miss about this place), and the food was very good as well -- I had the short ribs, preceded by "six-onion soup" (one of the women at the table asked me if I could tell the onions apart, and I said "Why yes -- it takes years of training, of course, but the subtle distinctions are quite apparent..." -- I then had to explain that I was joking), and finished with creme brulee and coffee, and everything was delicious -- but no more so than at other fine restaurants. And the service was distinctly inferior to the food. We had asked for one large table, but they seated us at two, claiming that bookings made it impossible to accommodate us (although by the time we left the place was only half full); they were pretty snooty about it, too, and apparently told the woman who made the reservation that we absolutely had to be out by 2 (see comment above about being half-full). They didn't bring water until asked, and served us one roll each rather than place a bread basket where we could each take what we liked (they brought more rolls around later, but still...). And they only had three wines by the glass, a cabernet, a merlot, and a chardonnay, which seems ridiculous in this era of wine bars and Cruvinets. All in all, I wouldn't go back on my own tab. Maybe I've been spoiled by places like Union Square Cafe and Montrachet, where you feel cosseted and pampered from making the reservation to retrieving your coat (and which are a lot easier to get to), but that's the way I see it. If I'm going to spend big bucks on a meal, I want everything just so, with no annoyances or regrets. As a matter of fact, I think I'll make a reservation at USC right away...

  1. m
    Michele Fuchs Apr 16, 1999 09:58 AM

    I am SO surprised that your experience was so shall I
    say mediocre?

    I have only had the BEST experiences there as of late
    and any I have recommended the place to. Perhaps it
    was the size of the group or lunch staff or something
    that day.

    Maybe they go up and down.

    I do agree that USC is the best, it is my personal
    fave! Has been for years, I think I will keep it!

    1. d
      Dave Feldman Apr 15, 1999 04:24 PM

      More and more restaurants, especially high-end places,
      now bring bread to the table. What is the purpose of
      this ritual? I don't think it's to save on bread
      consumption, because many have one person who does
      nothing but serve bread, and at many places, bread is
      constantly thrust in your face. If all the bread
      were coming out hot from the oven, I'd understand.
      Any other theories?

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