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River Cafe- Romantic or Not?

Ok, ChristineG recently posted a thread on the manhattan board asking for a romantic restaurant to take her boyfriend to on his birthday. She wanted something with candles, dimly lit, intimate, romantic. In response to this a lot of people are suggesting the River Cafe as the perfect romantic restaurant. Now don't get me wrong I realize that it has one of the most amazing views but other than that I don't see how it's romantic. I mean isn't a romantic restaurant supposed to help set a personal intimate mood so that way you can focus on your date and forget everything else in the romance? I've never been there so am I wrong in thinking the River Cafe is a large, semi-well lit, possibly over priced restaurant that is often extremely packed? I ask all that have gone there, how is it romantic?

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  1. I can see the River Cafe from my roof deck and always thought it was an overpriced, tourist trap until I went for the first time recently. The minute we walked in the door I was met with the aroma of fresh flowers, they were everywhere. We had a table for two by the window and the views were spectacular. It was romantic, quiet and there was piano music. A memorable evening. Food was very, very good (not on the "bleeding edge") and service was flawless. That said, to me romance is all about the person you are with. More the who than the where.

    3 Replies
    1. re: financialdistrictresident

      The River Cafe, IMHO, is and always will be, a wonderfully romantic spot.

      1. re: nyebaby37

        Personally, I'd go to The Savoy on Prince and Crosby for the romantic atmosphere rather than River Cafe.

        1. re: bigmackdaddy

          We used to go to The Savoy for dinner and for every New Year's Eve. Until they built that second floor and it was never the same. Is it better now? This thread probably needs to move to the Manhattan Board. We could use a multi-Borough Board for romantic restaurants!

    2. "I've never been there ..."

      That would make it hard for you to render a judgment, no?

      By all conventional definitions the River Cafe is romantic.

      Posh atmosphere? Check.

      Dim lights? Check.

      One of the world's best views? Check.

      A luxe bar with a piano playing Gershwin? Check.

      Pretty good food? Check.

      I mean really - what's missing from this picture? Strolling violinists? The waiter making a flaming dessert tableside?

      The River Cafe is the real deal.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Bob Martinez

        Yes, I've never been there, hense why I made this thread to get a detailed opinion instead of the very common "go there the view is romantic"

        1. re: hungry_fox

          Maybe the people saying that had been there.

          1. re: hungry_fox

            i haven't been to the river cafe, but i've dined waterfront a few times and there is something inherently romantic about it...the movement of the water, the occasional boat, the sunset, the twinkling lights of the sky line, the knowledge that you're in a quiet, cozy place overlooking the bustle of the city in the distance. the river cafe is on my list!

            1. re: ceeceee

              A nice way to sample the River Cafe's ambiance is to have a drink at the bar. As I recall the drinks are in the $12 - $14 range but then again, that's comparable to many hotel bars with no view at all. Get there before 7 and you'll have no problem getting seated.

              Men need to wear jackets. Most of the time I would find that annoying but in this case it's worth it.

              1. re: Bob Martinez

                Brunch is another good option. Dinner is around $75 pp (+ jackets for the gentlemen) w/out drinks, tip, tax.

        2. I cannot understand how you can post an opinion of a restaurant when you have never been there.

          The River Cafe is a wonderful, unusual, and very romantic restaurant.

          The food is excellent, the service perfect. You are greeted at the entrance by a maitre d' who is discreet and professional. Fresh flowers, beautiful arrangements are everywhere. The view is eye popping. unequalled. . The tables are nicely spaced, and the noise level is low. The magic of the setting, the quiet elegance, flowers, and music create an ambiance that is totally romantic and exceptional.

          For the quality of the food, service and ambiance, the River Cafe is not overpriced, it is correctly priced.

          1. I appreciate intellectual curiousity and your inquiry. So, do you plan to go for drinks, brunch or dinner? If you want to read more about the food see my post on Manhattan board.

            1. I've been to River Cafe several times for brunch, and it's always been delicious, exciting and memorable (helped by the fact that I wasn't the one paying!). That said, the harsh light of brunchtime reveals the decaying shabbiness around the edges of the place, particularly in the waiters' uniforms, which are always dirty and held together with safety pins, etc. I do think it would be very, very romantic for dinner, when it's dark and all of their pretty lights are on outside.

              1. i've only been to the river cafe once, but i wasn't that crazy about it: for me, there's a fakeness and/or stuffiness to the experience that's not so much "old world" (i love traditional, "old wold" restaurants) as "fancy cruise." the food was rich but felt pro-forma & kinda mass-produced. the atmosphere reminded me of a country club someone took me to as a kid.
                the view is, indeed, unbeatable. but i'd feel more romantic taking a great picnic to the park between the bridges. or going to a place like Convivium.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JenMarie66

                  I have been going to River Cafe since it opened, first with my parents, now with my DH. We go there about 5-6 times a year.

                  The food is lovely, the setting magical, the service excellent. The atmosphere is classic, and the view, especially at night, with the river and the city lights twinkling, and the boats drifting by, it extraordinary and very romantic.

                  I have never found it to be phony or pretentious.

                  Convivium is one of my favorite spots, but hardly romantic when you are sharing a table with total strangers.

                2. It's overpriced, and the portions are tiny.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: FOOD IS LIFE

                    The portions are not what those overseas would call "American" size, but IMO can hardly be considered tiny. After all how much rich foie gras can you eat in one app?

                    1. re: FOOD IS LIFE

                      The portions at River Cafe are normal sized portions for one person. One does not go to a restaurant like this expecting to doggybag the leftovers for another meal.

                      When eating a three or four course meal, it is obvious and normal that the portions are smaller.

                    2. I've been to the River Cafe 4-5 times, mainly with people from out of town. It has always been perfectly good, and the view of course is amazing. I think it is romantic in the same way a big wedding with a Vera Wang gown and identically-dressed bridesmaids is romantic—in a kind of corporate, mass culture way. If that is the kind of romantic you're looking for, you will like it. If you are looking for something quirky and individual, it is not romantic. I guess I would say it is risk-free romantic. It will certainly not be bad and there will be good food that anybody would like, dimly lit, and all that, but it you will not have the feeling that you are sharing some kind of secret with your partner.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: gnosh

                        "It will certainly not be bad and there will be good food that anybody would like, dimly lit, and all that, but it you will not have the feeling that you are sharing some kind of secret with your partner."

                        Paris is romantic and it's a long time since *that* was a secret.

                        Yes, River Cafe is romantic in a conventional way when "conventional" is defined as an option designed to appeal to the majority of the people. The Grand Canyon is considered "scenic" although I'm sure there are some people who prefer the Everglades swamp. To downplay the Grand Canyon's beauty or the River Cafe's romantic appeal is a valid personal choice but one that isn't widely held.

                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                          The Maitre d' at River Cafe has told me there have been more men getting down on bended knee to propose at the restaurant than he could ever count. It has a great deal of meaning for many people. It is that kind of romantic.

                          It is also a classic...a great place to bring people visiting from another country or another part of the US. A great place to celebrate a family birthday, anniversary or other special occasion. Everyone we have ever brought there has loved it, and said it was a memorable experience.

                          1. re: Fleur

                            I happened to be on the pier just outside the River Café last evening at sunset, just after the rain. I have to say the place looked gorgeous with the glass, the lights and the outdoor potted and planted flowers.