On a beautiful spring evening in New York City we were walking down 47th Street looking for the Sanctuary Hotel. There’s not much signage, but it’s easy to find if you know to look for a beautiful Beaux-Arts facade in the middle of the block. It’s lovely and special – and becomes more so as you walk inside to the stylish, sophisticated lobby. You can understand why this midtown retreat is called Sanctuary.
After finding the hotel, getting to the cocktail lounge and restaurant Haven Rooftop is a cinch. It’s on the roof! Step into the private elevator, press the button and you are there.
Walking out of the elevator, we found ourselves in a most appealing spot. The sun was shining in the middle of a bright blue sky, which highlighted the restaurant’s blue hued color scheme and handcrafted furnishings – with a grand view of Manhattan’s skyscraper buildings all around. It’s hard to believe this chic and trendy oasis is in the center of New York City, right near the hustle and bustle of Times Square.
We were surrounded by people lounging everywhere, enjoying drinks as well as hot, freshly-popped, free popcorn. The clothing of the staff seemed more like a fashion statement than work apparel, and this added to the impression of elegance.
We were immediately seated at a table with a view of 47th street. While most of the Happy Hour, pre-show activity was going on at the crowded bar/lounge towards the back, our table near the edge of the roof was quieter. Another lounge area in the front, decorated with lush greenery and floral arrangements, is also conducive to conversation and intimacy.
During dinner, we had the opportunity to meet the Sanctuary’s owner, Hank Freid. The first thing he told us about the Haven Rooftop, with obvious pride, was that the striking cedar furniture was made by his son, Brandon Freid, from salvaged materials. These tasteful and unique furnishings fit perfectly to the Sanctuary Hotel and Haven Rooftop image.
The staff here is friendly, efficient and enthusiastic. It is an international group with the ability to charm and make suggestions without ruffling the feathers of seasoned locals or visitors. Our servers were Carlos, originally from Puerto Rico, and Elda, from Mexico.
The French-inspired menu is stocked with a variety of small plates, salads, pizza, pasta and entrees. There are choices to please everyone. Everything is made fresh and presented to look like artwork that you simply cannot wait to eat.
Haven Rooftop has a 3 course, Prixe Fixe Theatre Dinner for $39. It was a tempting value, that includes the specialties of the house, but we opted to go a la carte.
We started with a couple of glasses of wine, including a very nice Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley and an Italian Pinot Grigio, as we waited for our appetizers. Elda assured us we would like the Calamari ala Plancha, which is not something we typically order. At the Haven Rooftop, the dish is different than at most places. Delightfully different! We can state unequivocally it was the best calamari we have ever had (or seen on someone else’s plate!) The dish was amazingly light, moist, and tender with a flavor unique to the “iron.”
We also had the excellent and very fresh, Smoked-in-house Salmon with guacamole, capers, onions and crème fraiche.
Our thoughts of ordering another plate of Calamari ala Plancha went away when our entrees were presented. We had told Carlos and Elda that we were going to the theater and needed to keep things moving at a bit of a quick pace. That they did, with exquisite timing.
For our main courses we chose the Grilled Salmon with string beans and the Lobster Roll accompanied by truffle fries. These two were excellent dishes. We like to order our salmon cooked rare – which isn’t often done right – but the chefs at Haven Rooftop respect your wishes. Ours was grilled perfectly.
The Lobster Roll was full of huge chunks of lobster and even drew the attention of several diners nearby. We weren’t surprised when they ordered one for themselves!
We had to leave for the theater, but not before having their highly recommended dessert, chocolate mousse. The perfect ending to our meal was the essence of their semi-sweet chocolate on our palates.
We were happy and full when we left the Haven Rooftop. It was definitely a heavenly and havenly experience. This restaurant and lounge is a divine retreat from the hectic streets below – and, with its proximity to Times Square, a great choice for pre- or post-theatre dining.