Monday, July 20, 2015

River Dock Café | St George | Staten Island

River Dock Café is a neighborhood gem, and found within the Saint George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island. While some restaurants try to be all things to all people, River Dock doesn't pull any punches- They excel at what they're known for, and that's seafood. However, it is also more than a seafood restaurant and we explain why we believe they're worthy of 4.8/5.0

We took a ride on the Staten Island Ferry departing from the SI Ferry Terminal in Battery Park, a ride I had taken in my childhood years when they used to charge for it. (It's now free) Thankfully this trip seemed shorter than I remembered, but it was a scant 25 minutes, with ferries departing every half hour throughout the day. It was sunny & scenic, as the weather could not have cooperated any more.

Easily spotted when transiting through the ferry terminal once there is this well-appointed bar & restaurant, nestled along all the big name eateries. Although plans for this space had taken awhile to complete, the Himani family who have deep experience in the restaurant and food service industry, opened the River Dock Café in January to high praise.

Modern decor
Modern, bright and airy, the restaurant can seat more patrons outdoors, as well
The decor is as current and trendy as they come. We were treated to a sight to behold as the views of the NY harbor opened up the space with light and activity across the water.  As of the time of this writing, the outdoor space was not ready, however we were told that it would open up the restaurant to more than double its rated capacity, basically turning it into an outdoor restaurant.  Definitely, this is a reason in itself for me to visit.  Others might choose it for convenience since ferry-goers often stop in for a quick bite on the way from work before returning home. Another reason I'd like to stop in well, is for the bar, whose operating hours extend far beyond the hours typical bars on Staten Island operate.

Beginning with appetizers, we had the black & white sesame Ahi Tuna Salad which was light and refreshing to say the least- the ahi tuna provided nice contrast to the complement of field greens.

This was followed by an antipasto dish of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes which I absolutely enjoy (I am a big fan of all things dairy, after all). Much like the salad, the tomatoes provide nice acidic balance to the mozzarella cheese.
Chilled seafood platter
Chilled seafood platter
The chilled seafood platter followed, which included a beautifully arranged display of raw oysters, clams, and cooked shrimp to pick from, however I was unable to try this. (Please note that I don't partake in the consumption of raw seafood except in the form of sushi, sashimi, or the aforementioned salad)

Shrimp satay
Shrimp satay
The shrimp satay was among my top favorites that night as it presents an ostentatious display that's sure to turn heads, clients, friends, and family alike.  Beyond that, it is one of the most fun dishes to pick from. (How can you go wrong with skewered grilled shrimp? You can't!) It is lightly Cajun-seasoned and complemented well with lemon zest to help cut through the grilled shrimp and bring out the flavor.

Thai (P.E.I.) Mussels Pot
Our Main course began with a steaming pot of PEI Mussels, which are my absolute favorites that evening. (I typically enjoy them French, moules-frites with a healthy dose of butter)  This was done amazingly well with a broth that's distinctly Thai, and they know how to spice things up. With the coconut milk, lime, and lemongrass pervasive throughout the broth I had little choice but to take the lightly toasted baguette that accompanied the dish and stab at it (the broth) and proceed to shove it in my mouth. Heaven! Not surprisingly, it was amongst the favorite of 2-3 others that night too.

Maine lobster
Fresh Maine lobster, shipped down the Northeastern corridor (seen above) is flayed open and complemented by butter, lemon zest, and assorted vegetables. While flavorful in itself, it was thankfully not seasoned as much to allow for us to taste the sweetness of Maine lobster meat. Using the Lobster Fork/Pick on the succulent piece of meat, I was able to remove it whole from the shell. If you love seafood and, like myself, don't want to work much for it, this is for you.  As can be expected, it was cooked properly, tender, and juicy.  As a side note, if you haven't been up to Maine at least once in your life, you definitely should go in August during the big harvest season. If however you can't make that trek, this is definitely one stop that's worth seeking in all of Staten Island.

Surf and turf is a surefire way to impress your date, although the aforementioned Thai mussels would also be the way to go.  A notable entry in any seafood restaurant's menu, this version includes a generous portion of sirloin steak and lobster, flanked by fries, basil and lemon zest. As with the previous helping of Maine lobster, there was a good amount of meat hidden under the shell. The steak is cooked to specification- a nice pink center medium.

For the indecisive, a grilled mix combo, is a sure way to go as it includes a skewer of shrimp, chicken, ribs, and fries to stomp any man (or woman's) hunger needs.  Although it in itself is a good choice, this dish is eclipsed by some of their better and tastier offerings but is available for those who must have it all (not just seafood).

River Dock Cafe seafood feast
A seafood feast for the eyes
Amongst the notable dishes that were not pictured but should receive high regard this evening was the Alaskan pan-fried salmon, which was seared well and perfect for the summer, around the time fresh wild-salmon is typically available. With a strong distinct flavor, this species of salmon was unmistakable and good, with the right amount of fat content.

Dessert: red velvet cheesecake, chocolate molten cake, and NY-style cheesecake
Dessert: red velvet cheesecake, chocolate molten cake, and NY-style cheesecake
One can never leave a restaurant without at least trying their dessert.  I was never one to turn anything sweet away so we asked for one of their more popular plates. We were treated to the tune of red velvet cheesecake, chocolate molten cake, and NY-style cheesecake. Decadent and flavorful in every bite, my favorite had to have been the red velvet, despite being a purist when baking NY-style cheesecakes. It was a real treat to have had it complemented with red velvet cake baked together. The molten lava cake, when poked and prodded, had it's warm fudge leak out- a sight to behold. The NY-style cheesecake, a classic, drizzled in chocolate syrup if that's to your liking, also came with the trio. It tasted light and airy with every forkful bite.

Seafood restaurant notwithstanding, their ability to double as a well-stocked bar providing cocktails as well as local beer is endearing. We find it refreshing to find such a unique place that breathes life into what would otherwise be a stale facility, and we're glad for it. 4.8/5.0

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River Dock Cafe
1 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY 10301 

Disclaimer: This a media invite by the restaurant's management.


  1. "Bar hours extend far beyond typical" SI ones? If you don't think SI bars stay open past 11pm I question the accuracy of this "review" commissioned by management. I guess they can't get good UNSOLICITED ratings.

    1. Thank you for your unsolicited trolling L5JW. Although I enjoy a good debate, this is not something worth debating, because at the time of this writing, they're authorized to operate beyond last call. Whether they choose to do so is entirely up to them. I suggest finding other "deficiencies" in my review worth debating. Good day.

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