Brunch at Riverpark

July 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Last weekend, Katie and I ventured all the way to the east side of Manhattan for a beautiful brunch at Riverpark by Tom Colicchio, located in Murray Hill, where we met up with friends who are getting married in October!  Although the restaurant is literally plopped in the middle of nowhere, it does boast some great views of the East River from its two outdoor dining sections: the Terrace (communal seating with long picnic tables) and the Patio (a more formal setting).

Outside

As a starter, we ordered simple grilled bread topped with a generous amount of creamy avocado, something that seems easy enough to make at home but never tastes the same as in a restaurant, possibly due to the fact that this version was drizzled with a fruity olive oil and sprinkled with fat shards of coarse sea salt.  I could eat this alone as a meal and be perfectly content.

Grilled bread and avocado with olive oil and sea salt

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of brunch because many restaurants just go with the old standbys – eggs Benedict, Belgian waffles, some kind of omelette with everything thrown into the mix – without applying their own interpretation or a little twist. But when I was looking at the menu for Riverpark beforehand, I knew this would be a real treat, not just because of its affiliation with great chef Tom Colicchio but also because it actually had a brunch menu that piqued my interest.

This was actually the first time I’d ever had shrimp grits, so even though I had no base for comparison, I thought this dish was very well executed. The shrimp were fat and tender, and my favorite part was sucking the brain juice out of the heads. And to all the people who squeal at this, let me just say I feel sorry for you because you’re clearly missing out on the best part of this tasty crustacean. The grits, very similar to polenta, were very creamy and luxurious for such a simple grain and tasted even better when mixed with that reduction of shrimp stock, butter, and whatever else.

Shrimp and grits with pulled pork, charred tomatoes, scallions

Other dishes included biscuits and gravy with Berkshire sausage and sage, Katie’s pork belly sandwich with a fried egg (can you say decadent?) and fries, and fried chicken sliders with honey and pickled vegetables. Everyone raved about the food, as well as the excellent coffee.

Biscuits and gravy with Berkshire pork sausage and sage

Pork belly sandwich with fried egg, cheddar, and frisee and fries

Fried chicken biscuit sliders with honey, cheddar, and pickles

It was one of those perfect, leisurely meals. Great company and conversation, excellent and comforting food, beautiful weather and a great view. Even our waiter was extremely cute. So although this restaurant was somewhat hard to find (we took the 4, 6 subways to 28th and walked from there), I’d definitely go back again, no question.

Riverpark by Tom Colicchio
450 E. 29th Street
New York, NY 10006
http://www.riverparknyc.com/ 

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