Riverview is a not-so-convenient but ultimately rewarding brunch destination. And the name is a little misleading, if not patently untrue: You can in fact see the East River, but there is nothing particularly appealing about the partially obstructed, ground-level view of an unflattering stretch of the waterway and the midtown skyline beyond it. The ‘Land that Time Forgot’ atmosphere evokes a sad hotel bar in Costa Mesa circa 1985; complete with neon backlighting in the bar; stale smooth jazz from the speakers; and a preoccupation with crab cakes, avocado, and asparagus on the menu.
But the service is impeccable and the food is pretty good, really -if a bit inconsistent. The $22 prix fixe brunch – which includes any starter and entrée on the menu; a cocktail; coffee or tea; and a basket of sweet pastry items – is one of the most generous we have come across. The egg dishes are competent without being particularly memorable – it’s a safer bet to choose from the many lunch items on the menu. Try the shrimp-stuffed avocado followed by the seafood spaghetti (scallop, shrimp, calamari and mussels in a garlic white wine sauce); or the Thai chicken spring roll and the avocado BLT wrap (which comes with fries).
Among the salads, skip the Caprese in favor of the beautifully presented and perfectly dressed arugula, with sliced almonds, fennel, and endives (which are primarily there for decoration). And if you are hell-bent on eggs, try either the Salmon Benedict or the Crab Oscar, both with lightly poached eggs – but request the thick and too-viscous Hollandaise on the side. The crab cakes here suffer – as many crab cakes do – from an overdependence on sweet red pepper; but are more than passable with a nice crispiness.
Riverview Restaurant is very convenient to the 7 train and vaguely accessible from the G train; but that’s about it. It is a much livelier place in the warmer months, where you can dine on the large, covered sidewalk patio. (The restaurant clearly stays afloat by catering private events; it is a popular choice for a Bridge-and-Tunnel wedding reception.) There is definitely something a little creepy about the location; on the ground floor of an all-too-quiet luxury condominium tower surrounded on all sides by nearly identical towers. But if you take your brunch here with a side of irony, it will be a perfectly enjoyable meal.
Brunch at Riverview