Sweeping river views and Central Park’s treetops serve as magical New York City backdrops. Even in winter, without leaf cover, the iconic Central Park Boathouse can make you forget you’re in the middle of the City. But there’s no mistaking the hubbub in Grand Central Terminal for anyplace else. Charlie Palmer’s Métrazur overlooks the 80,000-square-foot Main Concourse, while overhead is the gloriously restored night-sky mural depicting the October-to-March zodiac. Columbus Circle is another revitalized crossroads, embellished with fountains and the Time Warner Center, which houses the newly acclaimed A Voce Columbus. Want to go higher? Above Restaurant, in the Hilton Times Square, is 21 stories above the action, while Asiate, in the Mandarin Oriental, New York, affords a soaring 35-story panorama. And admit it—you’ve always meant to catch the waterside views from The River Café, Water’s Edge Restaurant or The Water Club. Now’s your chance.
Introduction by Julie Besonen
The Water Club
The Water Club juts out onto the East River from 23rd Street, and the restaurant takes full advantage, with floor-to-ceiling windows. Seafood is a specialty, including a raw bar and stuffed Maine lobsters. But the turf-based selections are just as extensive, with a range of steaks and double-cut lamb chops.
The River Café
Few restaurants can match The River Café‘s location in Brooklyn, nestled under the Brooklyn Bridge, peering across the East River at the downtown Manhattan skyline. And though it’s been in business since 1977, owner Michael “Buzzy” O’Keeffe has been vigilant about always serving top-notch, luxurious food with inventive tweaks, like grilled dorade filet with artichoke puree and verjus vinaigrette, and locally produced foie gras, where the richness is expertly balanced by an apple-cider reduction.
The Central Park Boathouse
Nestled in Central Park, right on a lake, is The Central Park Boathouse, an iconic and elegant restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating, and different menus (in different price ranges) for each seating area. After you eat, bundle up and take a walk through the park, enjoying the wintry view of the lake—and perhaps some hot chocolate, should the mood strike.
The “above” in this restaurant’s name is quite literal—it’s perched 21 stories above the hustle and bustle of Times Square in the Hilton Times Square. Serving contemporary American food in a sleek and elegant dining room, the restaurant is known for its incredible views and contemporary works of art. The menu changes with the seasons and strives to be as artfully prepared and presented as its surroundings. Enjoy a selection from the Wine Spectator Award–winning wine list or slide up to the adjoining Pinnacle Bar and enjoy the view.
Restaurants that boast atmospheres as stellar as their cuisine are few and far between, but Asiate—the Mandarin Oriental, New York, stunner rated number one in decor by Zagat since 2008—certainly fits the bill. From its wall of wine (featuring more than 1,300 bottles) to its breathtaking floor-to-ceiling view of Central Park, it’s no wonder the place racks up as many loyalists as it does accolades. Even if it weren’t such a gorgeous room, the contemporary cuisine with Asian influence—including everything from an étuvée of shellfish and hearts of palm in coconut-herb broth to wild Tasmanian sea trout—would shine.
Charlie Palmer’s Métrazur
What do you get when you combine great people-watching, gorgeous American-Mediterranean food and a lively bar scene? This bustling eatery, located in Grand Central Terminal. The brainchild of fabled restaurateur Charlie Palmer, Métrazur offers fresh, seasonal twists on dishes like pasta and risotto, great seafood and meat entrées, and rave-worthy desserts like homemade ice cream and crème brûlée with almond biscotti.
A Voce Columbus
With a sleek yet traditional modern Milanese aesthetic—and views of Central Park—the Columbus Circle outpost of Marlon Abela’s Italian restaurant offers rustic, old-school basics like baccalà, branzino and tagliatelle with pork and beef ragù within the Time Warner Center. Executive chef Missy Robbins’ lusty but sophisticated dishes are sure to delight any palate.
Water’s Edge Restaurant
One of the great things about dining outside Manhattan is that it gives you the chance to look back at the island in awe. And the perfect spot with the perfect view is the elegant Water’s Edge Restaurant, just across the East River in Queens. While you look, transfixed, back at the Manhattan skyline, don’t forget to order from the restaurant’s impressive, seafood-heavy menu. Current highlights include cracked-peppercorn shrimp scampi and baby artichoke–crusted salmon.