Travel

The Rainbow Room New York City Review: literally the high point of any NYC city break

It’s one of the most prestigious dining and entertainment venues in New York – a city which in itself isn’t short of premium grade entertainment spaces. The Rainbow Room, on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home of NBC and immortalised by Tina Fey in the award-winning sitcom 30 Rock, offers breathtaking views of New York; There are 24 glass panes, each over 7m tall, proving a 360 degree view. But it’s spectacular inside as well.

Visitors to the 65th floor can pop into Bar SixtyFive, which is a smart-casual eatery. Your ears will pop as the elevator speeds upwards.

An outside terrace, which allows for a more visceral top-down view of the city (so spectacular as dusk falls). Our advice is find one of the open gaps between the protective glass shields and take your photos from there – just don’t drop your phone.

While you can pay for the privilege of going to the top of the rock, and its Observation Deck, it makes far more sense to buy a cocktail at Bar SixtyFive and take advantage of the view here.

But our destination was the far grander Rainbow Room, a private event space. We were lucky enough to visit as part a European media contingent, and it looked huge with just 30 of us in attendance, but we got our elbows out. A single, dramatic dining table dissected the ballroom. A bespoke bar looked out from beneath a flight of stairs. Attentive waiters offered beverages and mouthwatering canapes.

Designated a New York City Landmark in 2012, the private event space offers one of the highest vantage points above the city. The restaurant was last renovated in 2014, by Gabellini Sheppard Associates, after a period of closure. The original Rainbow Room restaurant opened in 1934, and elements of the thirties design are clearly prevalent today. The interior architecture is stunning.

Originally designed by Wallace K Harrison, the 13,500-square-foot space has a single entrance, which leads to a raised area that encircles the dancefloor. The brass and glass staircase, and high ceiling create a heady atmosphere. In the centre of the room is an imposing chandelier, that hangs from a brass pole. Two smaller chandeliers add depth.

The dance floor itself can be made to rotate. This party trick was pulled while we waited for our deserts, and proved quite disorienting (although that might have been down to the fine wine served during the meal).

The Rainbow Room isn’t just architecturally thrilling – the quality of the food is sumptuous. The menu is classic American. Truffle infused grilled cheese bites appropriately elevated the concept of the toastie to new heights; juicy sliders were all too tempting and the chicken satay sauce was simply delicious – an inevitable (tiny) spill brought a speedy mop-up from attentive staff. The only canape I resisted was a fancy fig, because, well, it was a fig.

Our main menu offered a choice of salmon or filet Mignon, the former a generous portion, the latter perfectly cooked. I chose the latter and dutifully cleaned my plate. The desert platter included New York Cheesecake, low on originality perhaps, but jolly tasty all the same.

The Rainbow Room is extraordinary – both architecturally and as a fine dining experience. For many of us, a visit will be a once in a lifetime event. The good news is it doesn’t disappoint.

About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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