The Rainbow Room, 30 Rockefeller Plaza New York City Review

posted on Thursday, 2nd August 2018 by Steve May

Travel  Luxury  Restaurant  Food & Drink  Architecture 

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It’s one of the most prestigious dining and entertainment venues in New York - a city which isn’t short of premium grade spaces. The Rainbow Room, on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, home of NBC and immortalised by Tina Fey in 30 Rock, offers breathtaking views of New York; 24 glass panes, each over 7m tall, provide 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), is not to be missed. Our advice is find one of the open gaps between the protective glass shields and take your photos from there - just don’t drop that phone.

Tip: 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 there.

View Panorama

Terrace 2

Terrace View

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 seemed huge with just 30 of us in attendance, but we all got our elbows out, so it looked fine. 

For our evening, a single, dramatic dining table dissected the ballroom (pictured below); a well-stocked bar looked out from beneath a flight of stairs. Attentive, good natured staff offered beverages and mouthwatering canapes.

"The Rainbow Room isn’t just architecturally thrilling - the quality of the food is sumptuous. Truffle infused grilled cheese bites elevate the concept of the humble toastie to new heights"

Designated a New York City Landmark in 2012,  the Rainbow Room offers one of the highest vantage points above the city. The space 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 Art Deco design are clearly evident 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 around a dancefloor. A 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 visual depth.

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

Ballroom

Interior Combi

IMG_20180731_183429

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 humble 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 Hawk-like 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 steak and dutifully cleaned my plate. The sweet 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.

Inside ID Ratings
Interior design: 10/10
Food & drink: 10/10
Service: 10/10
Value: 8/10

We say: The Rainbow Room is an indulgent high for the senses. It's surely of the most exciting event venues in America.

Steve May

Inside ID Editor Steve May is a freelance lifestyle and technology journalist, who also writes for T3, AskMen UK, MTV UK, TechRadar and Trusted Reviews.

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