River Cafe in Brooklyn, New York

One of Hurricane Sandy’s highest-profile casualties was The River Café, a waterfront landmark that most Chowhounds celebrate less for its food and more for its sweeping postcard views of the downtown skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. Fifteen months after the storm, it’s back in business, and recent ‘hound intel suggests that the cooking, as well as the damaged structure, has received a needed makeover.

Seasoned Brooklyn ‘hound Steve R says the $115 three-course dinner—featuring an updated, reworked menu—is distinguished by outstanding starters like rabbit crépinette with ricotta dumplings and Hawaiian-accented ahi tartare with fresh wasabi. Winning entrées include rack of lamb with merguez and shrimp and chorizo-crusted branzino with romesco and lemon, and dessert brings familiar comforts like the signature chocolate marquise Brooklyn Bridge. The luxe setting is everything it was, thanks to a multimillion-dollar restoration—”just as magical as ever,” Steve R writes. “The better news is that the food has improved to the point where I’d recommend going even if the place were without windows and located elsewhere. … Once again on my ‘highly recommended’ list.”

Photo from The River Café

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