-A New Monthly Column by Joshua Wanger, Featuring NYC Restaurant Reviews-
ROBERT • COLUMBUS CIRCLE, NEW YORK—This unpretentious, fine dining establishment, set at the top of the Museum of Arts and Design, is a visually exciting culinary treat. The impressive dining room features chic blades of light dangling from the ceiling and a wall-sized three-dimensional rendering of a deciduous tree that grows and loses leaves through rapidly shifting seasons. The colorful lighting casts contrasting blues, oranges, and pinks, foreshadowing an exciting menu. Floor-to-ceiling windows comprise one wall, providing clear views up Broadway and into Central Park. Diners curious enough to look up at the mirrored ceiling tiles observe the blur of pedestrians and vehicles circling Gaetano Russo’s statue of Columbus below. As the sun sets, city lights show through the window, presenting a stunning backdrop for a dinner prepared by the very capable Chef Luisa Fernandes.
A fun atmosphere prevails in the dining room. The wait staff are amiable and attentive without being overbearing. The flamboyant character serving this reviewer drew smiles from around the room. On a beautiful Friday evening in the city, the restaurant is filled, but dinner is not rushed. Pushing the wonderful atmosphere to its logical extreme, a jazz pianist and bassist duo riff for the dining room.
Begin your evening with one of Robert’s specialty cocktails. The “Mad Manhattan,” a sweet concoction composed of Woodford Reserve, blood orange vermouth, and an Amarena cherry, is a delightfully rich pairing for a three-course meal.
The amuse-bouche, this evening a carrot–jicama wrap with cucumber cream, was simple. A light, clean flavor, and satisfying crunch distinguishes this appetizer, paving the way for the first course: tomato and mango gazpacho. Bursting with umami and salty-sweetness, this finely seasoned and smoothly puréed, chilled soup works perfectly with the dollop of mango sorbet centered in the dish. Though the portions are large, you will not waste a drop of this soup.
The main entrée, a summery risotto, arrives incredibly hot and perfectly cooked. The chef prepares a generous portion of fresh sweet corn with asparagus mixed into the all’onda rice and topped with shavings of Parmesan, giving the dish a seasonal, savory flavor. Like the gazpacho, the portion is large and filling.
Assuming you can eat another bite, cheesecake topped with passion fruit foam and surrounded by caramel and dots of guava liquid gel round out the meal. The showy foam and gel make a bold presentation but are not too sweet and do not overpower the luscious cheesecake. The clear caramel gently binds the bright, tart fruit and the creamy, rich cheesecake flavors together, lending complexity to the dish. Compliments of the chef, a small glass of bubbly Moscato arrives.
Robert calls for repeat visits. Restaurant goers seeking a casual, yet fine dining experience will delight in the menu and atmosphere. The view is spectacular, prompting some picture taking, but this does not detract from the experience. On the contrary, each flash amplifies the fun, capturing smiles and the friendly atmosphere the staff works hard to cultivate. Call as far in advance as possible to reserve seats by the expansive windows.
Post Photo Courtesy of: www.tripadvisor.com