Around 100 people are sitting at small two-tops under a very expensive chandelier 65 floors above Rockefeller Center, sipping good champagne and cocktails mixed with hip Brooklyn gin. A few kisses are stolen at tables in the back. The Roots are playing on a small stage and they brought the damn sousaphone player. Around 100 people remain seated.
If the re-opening of the Rainbow Room after a five-year hiatus and pricey renovation that lovingly restored the brass railings and crystal ballards back to their 1934 aesthetic is anything, it’s a reminder that spending an evening high above New York City is pretty breathtaking. It starts with the views: windows wrapping around the entire building (including the restrooms) and a large terrace fit with seating for ultimate baller status. It’s the kind of backdrop fit for proposals and the celebrating of big life events.
The Room itself is only open for Sunday brunch (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.) and Monday for dinner. The chef, Jonathan Wright, spearheads a menu of American classics like Oysters Rockefeller (obvs), Beef Welly and the typical raw seafood/pastries/steamed Chinese buns/waffles brunch high-end spread. The Monday service is prix-fixe only and the brunch is, as of this writing, booked out until late November. The adjacent SixtyFive, which serves as an executive dining room during the day, serves cocktails Monday – Friday (5 p.m. – midnight) and is your best bet for getting into the landmark space. It’s all non-shockingly incredibly expensive, though not unlike The Starlight Room at the Drake in San Francisco or the Shanghai Terrance at the Peninsula in Chicago.
As the opening Monday night concert unfolds (promised to be a monthly event featuring pop act and Broadway stars), the crowd rises from the chairs as Roots frontman Black Thought (born Tariq Trotter) goes through the mellow classic “Proceed” before covering “Jungle Boogie” and N.W.A.’s “Express Yourself”. At some point, opening comedian Seth Herzog grabs the mic to rap a few bars less-awkwardly than one might think. The crowd, maybe there were 120 of them at this point, goes slightly nuts. In a this is the guy having the bar mitzvah whose father has paid for this private Roots concert kind of way. It’s really good to have the Rainbow Room back.
The Rainbow Room
30 Rockefeller Center, Floor 65
New York City