I’m not typically a fan of eating in midtown when I go to New York, for all the reasons you’d expect: it’s typically more expensive and more crowded. It’s also much harder to find quaint out of the way places where locals hang out.
That said, when on business or if I’m staying in midtown, sometimes I don’t always want to schlep down to the lower east side (my favorite spot for Italian eateries and bistros), the upper east or west or any of the boroughs. On a recent trip, we stayed at a relatively new Renaissance property in midtown (worth checking out), which has a fun and delicious restaurant called Rock & Reilly’s on the premises.
Sports fans will love this place because you can always seem to find a game on if you sit at the bar. While you can also order whatever beer that takes your fancy (they had 8 drafts including stout and cider and 7 beers by the bottle when we were there), the food is most definitely a notch above what you’d expect from a hotel restaurant in mid-town.
Enter the surprise, starting with their Salmon Tartare dished up with root veggie hash, avocado and potato crisps – so so delish!
The yellow beet salad with sweet currants, arugula and balsamic glaze had us at hello. I can’t say no to anything with Burrata and I’ll be honest, it’s hard to disappoint me if it’s on the menu. A simple salad, I figured it was a safe and healthy choice at best for a sports bar. Little did I realize, we were only getting started and the best was still to come.
We wouldn’t have gone for the Scotch egg btw, but the restaurant manager and chef insisted and so out it came — they serve it with Chipotle Aioli and Pickled Jalapeno over a Citrus Quinoa Fregola Salad. Surprise number 2.
While Anthony will go for fried calamari or a caprese salad way before he’d opt for a tartare or crudo, it’s almost always one of my first picks. In addition to the fairly traditional tartare, we tried their Hamachi, Salmon and Tuna Crudo, which they soup up with avocadoes and Yuzi-Mustard oil. Not only is the presentation gorgeous but it was damn tasty too.
At this point, I was in heaven with all of the appetizers they brought out, happily pairing them with a glass of Coppola Chardonnay Directors Cut and thereafter a Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. This was of course before we moved onto red meat. They offer both a Filet Mignon with sauteed greens, taro chips and seven peppercorn sauce and a Skirt Steak with Mustard Marinade, Root veggies and a Jalapeno Chimichurri. Can you say yum?
While I was overjoyed by my Justin Cabernet Sauvignon, he was pleasantly sipping the much lighter Cline Pinot Noir.
Fish lovers will appreciate their fresh steamed Black Bass, which they serve with soba noodles, shitake mushrooms, Chinese broccoli, Jalapeno Ginger Broth and Lotus Chips — it was by far my favorite entree. They also serve a scrumptious Roasted Halibut with Spicy Farro, Carrots, Turnips, Roasted beets and lemon oil.
As for sides, there’s plenty to choose from, including whipped mash for traditionalists, a decadent Wild Mushroom Risotto (below), Broccoli Rabe, root veggies, and Parmesan Garlic Fries.
Ahh yes, before I forget, there’s also their Roasted Brussel Sprouts with bacon, a to-die-for dish. Truth be told, I could have left the restaurant singing and dancing had this been my only dish. Yes, really. In addition to the crispiness that pops in your mouth, your taste buds will get an added delight from the sweet maple glaze the chef adds, which really sets this dish apart.
Then, the chef seemed to think we needed to taste his homemade pasta. If you’ve ever been out with an Italian, you know that he’s unlikely to refuse homemade pasta and so despite the fact that we were full (and happy), out it came and yes, we tasted.
How could we resist? Fettucine pasta with a sauce that wasn’t quite Italian but it not quite Asian either and….it was topped with white radish to confuse you even more.
We soon learned that the chef was Indian and his sauce suddenly made sense. The ever so talented chef Chai Trivedi weaves in a whole lot of Asia with modern western influences and the result is utterly divine.
A far cry from a traditional sports bar and restaurant right? The good news is that there are plenty of tables away from the bar scene and its dimly lit ambiance makes it a viable option for a romantic evening out as well. Additionally, their cocktails were tempting had we not opted for wine pairings with our meal.
Ready for desserts? If you love apples, I’d suggest their Apple Pecan Torte with Himalayan Salted Caramel Gelato and if you’re a chocolate lover, they offer an ever so decadent Cast Iron Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae which is topped with saved white chocolate and sea salt peanuts. Ouch, right?
Anthony and I can never resist a Panna Cotta so had to try their Vanilla specialty with mixed berries and passion fruit sorbet. They also brought out a New York Cheesecake (we were in Manhattan after all), which they prepare with a delicious rhubarb compote and cappuccino gelato, an unlikely combination perhaps, but it magically worked. Two thumbs up!
Rock & Reilly’s New York
@ The Renaissance Hotel Midtown
Note: we were hosted by the hotel but all opinions expressed are entirely our own.