On our first day in New York City we had dreamed of finding a pleasant rooftop with wifi to enjoy a calm lunch and spend our afternoon working a bit. Even though The Refinery Rooftop has been named Best Hotel Bar two years in a row by USA Today readers choice, it is also an excellent daytime place to enjoy a meal lounging on the terrace.
Perusing the lunch menu on the internet we found quite a few captivating choices from a smashed golden beet appetizer, Maine lobster roll, lamb merguez flatbread, kale & quinoa salad, grilled fish to a New York cheesecake. Our choices though fell on seared yellowfin tuna with a broccoli salad side and the sandwich of the day with a mac n’ cheese side. Sufficiently enticed, we reserved a table last minute online and were booked for half an hour later.
The rooftop establishment is like one of the images that comes to mind when I think about New York. A large open space restaurant with a centralised bar surrounded by solid hardwood tables. All leading out to a substantial roof terrace with couches to lounge on and a view of the neighbouring brick buildings. The September weather was a mild 25°C, a sweet middle ground of the NYC hot and cold extremes.
After around a quarter of an hour our meal arrived in manageable “European sized” portions. The yellowfin tuna delicately displayed on a bed of diced avocado and cucumber in yuzu koshu tahini sauce topped with finely chopped carrots. The tuna had a silky texture that felt like it almost melted in the mouth leaving a slight, not too pungent, lingering taste of ginger and sour tones of the sauce. Excellent!
The side of broccoli came with almonds and feta in a lemon sauce. Both the broccoli and the feta were soft, but not too chewy, which was well appreciated as broccoli can be served overly fibrous and undercooked in some restaurants. The roasted almonds and slight lemon flavour complemented the broccoli in a satisfactory way.
The club sandwich was served without eggs which suited the fine cold cuts from Strassburger superbly bringing out the salty, smokey flavours of the turkey and thick bacon. The inventive sparring partner of Gruyère cheese was added to the mix of this BLT variety creating a cutting-edge version of this classic sandwich.
The side of mac ’n cheese is slightly misleading as it is not served with macaroni. In this case this deception was positive as the dish was made with conchiglies, a type of pasta that actually holds sauce better which in this case was cheese. The sprinkled bread crumbs added an enjoyable texture.
We had to opt out of trying the famous desserts and cocktails this time so we finished off with a coffee. Upon ordering a double espresso we were informed that there was only “American coffee” available. This is not to be confused with an Americano, which is an espresso diluted with hot water. Filtered coffee does in no way diminish our impression of The Refinery Rooftop though, which is an unblemished grade A for food accompanied by a wonderful atmosphere and amicable staff.
Photography by Edouard Lombard