Why is it the case that a meal at a rooftop restaurant often involves a fabulous serving of city views with a side of mediocre food? These spots are lovely occasions to commemorate a special event (the Prudential Center for my sister’s Wellesley graduation comes to mind) but never the palate. Danny Meyer’s Manhatta, however, is an exception to this rule. Set on the 60th floor of a commercial building in the Financial District, Manhatta offers up stunning views of the Lower Manhattan skyline while serving equally impressive plates of refined, crowd pleasing dishes.
The crowd isn’t going to be the most interesting one you’ll encounter. It’s a strange and eclectic mix of women having a girls’ night out co-mingling with Wall Street financiers networking over after work drinks rubbing elbows with couples having a date night. But that’s what happens when you build a nice, rooftop restaurant in a largely commercial area, you’re not going to really run into real neighborhood regulars.
But aside from the random crowd, the food on the whole won’t let you down. I am a big fan of the structure of the menu, which is a simple, three-course option. The flavors skew American and French, and on the whole, the food is familiar and perhaps a bit safe. Steak, roast chicken, a vegetarian-friendly platter, there’s something for everyone here. The appetizers available as first course options are where things get a tad more adventurous, where you might find things like lobster quenelle or a seasonal salad with seafood, but nothing else, other than maybe the presence of duck, will get your heart racing.
My meal picks that night consisted of the peekytoe crab salad, the wagyu bavette steak and the chocolate souffle. It reads like something on a Valentine’s Day prix fixe, a winning combination that won me over for its reliability rather than risk-tasking. It’s also a reminder that at its heart, Manhatta is still a rooftop restaurant for the masses, certainly the best of its class, but the aim is to please rather than to ruffle feathers with something out of the ordinary.
28 Liberty St, 60th Floor
New York, NY 10005