There's something that's just gratifying about eating in restaurants atop tall buildings. There is the commanding view, yes, but the best part is the implicit temporary superiority over your fellow man. If you want a good meal, and to look down at the common run of humanity, here are some great choices.
A private club catering to the beau monde, the New York outpost of this posh global chain inspires fits of snobs-vs-slobs loathing, but the truth is that it's enormously fun, gorgeous, has a very fine restaurant and bar, and best of all a rooftop pool.
The big prestige restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, Asiate has what is undoubtedly one of, if not the best view in New York. It's utterly weatherproof, so watching a storm here is an especially perverse pleasure, one that makes you feel almost godlike in your power. It's great on a nice night too. But plan on bringing a bag of krugerands to pay for your meal.
A soaring view and surprisingly good Malaysian snacks enliven this otherwise somewhat garish rooftop bar and lounge. The crowd is young and raucous and they couldn't care less though.
When asked, as I often am, for my opinion on the best steakhouse in New York, I often hem and haw. The meat may be better at Minetta Tavern, the sides at BLT Prime, the atmosphere (and nothing else) at Peter Luger. But for the overall package of flawless service, great meat, and by far the loveliest and most relaxing room of any steakhouse I know, the answer is surely Porterhouse New York. Here's a tip: go have a steak sandwich and an Old Fashioned at the bar, during the day. It's a great NYC experience.
Landmarc takes up a neglected niche in midtown: the above-average affordable business and tourist restaurant. No one would confuse it with a serious restaurant, but the airport food is solid, the prices ok, and the view superb. It's the missing link of midtown dining.
Dark, sleek, and urbane, Upstairs is exactly what you would expect an upscale midtown restaurant and lounge to be. It's a perfect setting for a seduction, or at least an afterwork drink with the right person.
When it was announced that Daniel Humm and Will Guidera of Eleven Madison Park were going to do the restaurant at the Nomad hotel, everyone assumed it would be ultra-refinedd modernist food, as at EMP -- but no! Instead Humm has gone for an understated, urbane, and traditional menu, albeit one prepared with immense behind-the-scenes innovations. The atmosphere is swanky and the food perfect every time out. I actually like Humm's food in a more dressed-down form. The Library lounge is a can't miss drinking spot.
An immense, accomplished modernist restaurant on top of a skyscraper is not something you would expect to find in White Plains, but 42 is exactly that. A jazzier tapas concept, Bellota, occupies part of the space but has a very different atmosphere, but the same chef, the talented Anthony Goncalves.
A beer garden on the roof of Italy? The only question is why Mario Batali wouldn't create something like that. Nor is it suprising that the sausages, from a rustic Tuscan blood sausage to a fabulously porky cotechino.