America’s New York at the Top of Its Game

My frequent trips between homes in Texas and New York, and the occasional stories I initiate from NYC, sometimes generate inquiries from Texas readers about what to see and do in the “Big Apple.” This seems especially true now with the Republican Convention and the U.S. Open Tennis tournament fast approaching. It seems that many Texas roads lead to the crown jewel of the Empire State. And for all the “Yankee” jokes one may hear in the south, I can’t help but think of the many Texans whose hearts and support went out to New York in its time of 9-11 trial. Allow me to give you the good news: New York is solidly back as the great cultural and financial center of our nation, and it beckons to Americans everywhere with summer tourism well under way.

Visitors have been coming to New York in droves, and during my last trip there in June, you could barely find space to stroll the crowded sidewalks of Time Square, the Theatre District, Fifth Avenue, and just about everywhere else. I saw some pleasant mainstream shows like “Wonderful Town,” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Then there was the uniquely witty, and clever off-Broadway show, grandiosely titled “The Musical of Musicals.” It ably spoofed the musical traditions of Rodgers’& Hammerstein, Kander & Ebb, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, and Andrew Lloyd Webber, while humorously re-working the same comic plot five times (with just one piano, and a cast of four that fills the stage of Manhattan’s York Theatre).

For readers with late summer plans in New York, and a desire for an unusual experience, I would strongly recommend a visit to the stunning River Café. A famed restaurant of long standing, it was for me a delightful recent discovery. Facing Manhattan from across the East River on the water’s edge of Brooklyn, the elegant restaurant is tucked beneath the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge and commands perhaps the finest view of “the city” imaginable. Some weeks ago, on a pleasant early summer evening, the ambient dining room’s wall of windows offered an ever-changing panorama of skyline, sunset, drifting clouds and the shimmering waters of the well-trafficked river. Lady Liberty (just reopened to the public following 9-11) presided in the distance, and the elegant bridge and crescent moon loomed above. As darkness descended, the city lights glowed, and the table candles and petite brass lamps cast a special glow of their own.

The pleasantly dry house champagne was a nice accompaniment to the gourmet delights that followed. Consider delectable appetizers of Chilled Taylor Bay Scallops (with sea beans, tomato and coriander), and Crispy Pacific Oysters (wrapped with smoked salmon, caviar, sorrel and fine herb remoulade). Imagine a Spring Asparagus Soup with chanterelle mushrooms, black truffle cream and fine herbs. The fruity semolina dinner rolls are not to be missed. Our sumptuous entrees included Wild King Salmon (with divine ginger tempura bay scallops, carrot-miso broth, sake and soy glazed shiitake mushrooms), and, while it could have been a bit more tender, there was a delicious Butter Poached Lobster Tail (on a bed of steamed Bok Choy accompanied by a delicate lobster cake with Florida Key Lime vinaigrette). Our experienced server, Tom, presented everything with consummate skill. Rich coffee accompanied exquisite desserts of Double Chocolate Tart, and Macadamia – Pistachio Baklava, while meringue and chocolate bonbons accompanied the sizeable check.(The evening Fixed Price complete dinner is $78.00 per person, while afternoon lunch is less expensive.) But if you are looking for a truly memorable vacation dining experience, don’t miss Brooklyn’s River Café.

(Phone 718-522-5200 for reservations or visit the website at Jackets required for gentlemen after 5 p.m.).

About The People's Critic

David Dow Bentley III, writes columns about the performing arts which are featured in newspapers from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast. A member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), The International Theatre Critics Association, and America's oldest theatrical club, The Lambs, he also had long service as the editor of The Lambs' Script magazine. Mr. Bentley may be contacted via e-mail at
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