Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Dinner at The Rock Center Cafe

Turkey followed by Christmas pudding is very much the traditional Christmas meal of choice in England, so we were a little nervous about our first Christmas dinner in New York City. It was highly unlikely we would find turkey on the menu, and we knew for sure that Christmas pudding was definitely not going to figure into the equation. Added to this is the fact that there are a dizzying choice of places to eat in NYC on Christmas Day. In the end, we chose the Rock Center Cafe both for its location, and because we had a wonderful meal there about eighteen months ago, eating at their tables outside on a summer visit to New York. In the winter months, the Rockefeller Center rink fills the space where the tables sit, and provides a gorgeous backdrop to the modern layout of the restaurant inside. 

The view of the rink from The Rock Center Cafe 
The restaurant was beyond busy, and even though we had a reservation, we still had to line up outside and wait for a half an hour beyond our reservation time to get in. However it was definitely worth the wait. Although it was a set menu, there were five choices each for starter and nine for main course, as well as four possible desserts. Although none of these choices involved turkey in any form, they all sounded so good we soon forgot to be worried about tradition. 

Our son started with Pork Belly, and my husband and I chose the Jumbo Shrimp with Cognac and Cocktail Sauces. Everything was mouthwateringly delicious and beautifully presented. I decided to go for a pescatarian Christmas following the Jumbo Shrimp with the Red Snapper. Served with roast tomatoes, fennel, olives and capers and accented with garlic and basil oil, the fish was beautifully moist and so well filleted that I did not come across even one single bone. 
Red Snapper with Tomato, Fennel, Olives and Capers
My husband chose the Berkshire Pork Chop with Sweet Potato Flan and Swiss Chard, and my son chose the Fillet Mignon served with 'the best mashed potatoes' he had ever had. Both of these choices were scrumptious, and we were all really taken with the Sweet Potato Flan, which was seasoned with Pumpkin Pie Spice, making it a beautiful foil to the delicious bone in chop. 
Berkshire Pork Chop with Sweet Potato Flan
We accompanied our meal with a delicious Sancerre, which went beautifully with the pork and the fish. 

Christmas Pudding was definitely not on the menu, but we really didn't miss it. The Key Lime Pie with Blackcurrant Coulis was a lovely sweet/tart finish to my meal. 

Key Lime Pie with Blackberry Coulis
My husband chose an Apple Cake, and although he did say he wished he had chosen the Key Lime Pie (I shared mine so he didn't miss out), the Apple Cake was very delicious too.

We were all very impressed by the impeccable service and wonderful food, particularly considering how busy the restaurant was. Furthermore, although they were desperate for tables, and when we left the queue was longer than ever, we never felt rushed. It was a great atmosphere, and we all enjoyed watching the skaters outside as well, particularly when one man did a bit of impromptu ice dancing, and later when a couple got engaged before our eyes.

I highly recommend the Rock Center Cafe anytime of year, but if you find yourself planning a visit to New York at Christmas, this is definitely a place you ought to consider reserving a table. 


  1. I came over to say Happy Boxing Day, but it seems that you are on this side of the pond for the holidays. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wish you all the best in the coming new year!

  2. Thank you Kristen! Wishing you a wonderful 2012!

  3. Yowza, what gorgeous food!


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