Skyline dining is not something most of us expect to do anytime soon. The Space Needle or a movie set of a lascivious penthouse restaurant come to mind– and instantly the idea is discarded as a luxury expense. R2L dashes these notions with the force an object would assume were it do be dropped from the 37th floor of the Two Liberty Place tower (which also happens to be R2L’s location).
We chose to visit R2L to celebrate our 1 year anniversary, and we couldn’t have made a better choice of restaurant. The place was classy, luxurious and incredibly down-to earth (or at least as much as a skyscraper restaurant can be).
Aviations are a favorite for both of us (especially those mixed by our friend Matt) and it seemed to be the signature drink so while we waited at the bar for out table we both ordered one. Mixed with Amsterdam Gin (spied the bartender pouring it), and subbing Parfait Amour for Creme de Violette (made with rose petals and more citrus) the drink was a hit with both of us.
I prefer straight up regular manhattans (2:1 ratio) most of the time, but have had perfect manhattans in the past and enjoyed them nonetheless. After gin for the first drink, I knew I wanted to see their skill with rye or boubon and the perfect manhattan just stood out at that point. I’m not sure what the rye was, but the drink was very well mix and fit the bill perfectly to go with my dry aged steak and into desert.
Because we mentioned in our reservation that we would be celebrating an anniversary, the restaurant provided complimentary champagne. How sweet of them! This kind of service is rare at most places, and it was so welcome and pleasing to feel like the restaurant was celebrating with us.
Appetizer: Lobster Mac and Cheese
I have wanted to try this for some time now, but I am always lured away by other tasty (and usually cheaper) appetizers. But dammit, this was our anniversary so I felt allowed to splurge– and boy am I glad we did. This wasn’t a mess of cheese and pasta with bits of lobster hiding within. Instead, 5 extra-large pieces of macaroni were individually treated to mounds of tasty cheese and a large chunk of meat each. The morsels were perfectly bite-sized and the flavors were well-balanced and perfectly cooked. I knew we were in for some great dinner after these bites, which is exactly what an appetizer is for.
Josh: Dry Aged NY Strip Steak
Originally we were going to try to hit up one of the big steakhouses in Philly for our anniversary specifically to get some dry aged steaks, but eventually decided on R2L. Happily R2L has an award-winning a dry aged steak anyway– in my favorite steak cut to boot! I ordered medium rare and this was probably the best steak I’ve ever eaten, but I will qualify that with the fact that I haven’t had any other aged steaks of course. I got the broccoli and wild rice for my side and it was a great combo to the steak and the most perfectly cooked broccoli I’ll ever have.
Holly: Mustard Crusted Pork Chop
You would think that a NY Strip Steak would far and away be the best thing on the menu at a place like this, but I dare you to try to pork chop. Actually, if you go there and don’t try it I think you will have missed out on one of the best experiences of your life. This chop had the best texture and the most flavor of any pork I have had anywhere. Ever. It was rubbed with mustard and cooked so perfectly that I was almost fooled into thinking I was eating beef. No lie–I have never had a “foodgasm” before, but ladies and gentleman, that pork chop was the end-all of food experiences for me so far. It was served with fingerling potatoes, but really who cares? Damn that chop was tasty.
Holly: Variations on Chocolate
Variations on Chocolate is a very fancy way to say you get a crap ton of tasty desserts on one pretty plate (and it’s definitely meant to hold the attention of the ladies). The plate had 5 tasty little bites, each with its own flavor and texture. The first was a teeny little macaroon ( maybe?) with an overall taste of caramel, topped with a little chocolate wafer. Next, a chocolate lollipop filled with peanut butter (my favorite), followed by a dollop of creamy chocolate ice cream. Finally, a chocolate breakfast is presented with a doughnut and little mug of “hot” chocolate (really a cold milk shake with hot pepper in it–it’s not a new concept, but this is definitely the best execution I have had). Everything was delicious and it was super fun to have a lot of different presentations on one plate. In a restaurant that could swing toward the all-too-serious side, this dessert was playful and a great way to end the meal.
There wasn’t as much food to my desert as Holly’s but boy was it tasty and right up my alley. 2 small perfectly made french toast sticks were surrounded by a bevy of accoutrements. There were puffs of bourbon maple whipped cream, a house-made ice cream dollop, caramel drizzle and slices of the most perfectly fried banana sliced with a hard glaze on top of them. They all were delicious and went great together and after a large meal I didn’t really need a big dessert anyway.
R2L is a classy establishment. You kind of know that going in. From the moment you approach their private elevator the “magic” happens. Everything is perfectly balanced to feel sumptuous and extravagant, but nothing is really intimidating or unwelcoming in its fashionable approach. The design is inspired by art deco interiors from the 1930s and as such all of the forms are curved, colorful, and tactile, but nothing is flashy or obnoxious. Even the prevailing use of zebra fabric in the custom seating is tasteful (and very theme appropriate). The design was obviously meant to highlight the beautiful view, and the space planning was done so that you can see the gorgeous view from almost anywhere you sit in the restaurant (pro tip guys: if you go here on a hot date, make sure you give the better seat to your lady friend). I felt like my design sensibilities were taken care of almost as well as my tastebuds were.
The Overall Experience
Daniel Stern obviously knows how to train his staff: our waitress was personable, kind, and knew everything about the food she was serving. She had just the right amount of friendliness and professionalism, as one would expect from a restaurant such as this. Our food was also served in a timely (but not hurried) fashion and each dish was plated with perfect attention to visual detail. Our desserts even came with a scripted “Happy Anniversary” written in chocolate on the plate. As we mentioned before, we also receive champagne and many congratulations from those serving us. It was appreciated, and the perfect touches that make a night at R2L special. We would highly recommend it for your next special celebration.
For all this luxury, service, and deliciousness you would expect R2L to break the bank. It was of course pretty pricey, but it was completely worth it (and not nearly as expensive as one might think). Pro tip: If you want the R2L experience but can’t hang the price-tag, spend a happy hour at the bar. the bartenders are also great, there is a bar food menu, and you don’t need a reservation. It’s a great way to experience the place without emptying your wallet.
Overall Experience: 5/5
Will We Visit Again:
If we could we would be frequent patrons of R2L but budget will not allow. We would love to visit again for a bar seat and a casual snack (and we feel completely welcomed to do so but the great bar staff and the view that even the bar allows).