Boat Basin Café serves beautiful river views
September 14, 2011
NEW YORK, USA – Be it ten minutes from home or ten hours ahead, I am a sucker for destinations with fabulous views. Truth be told, though, aren’t we all? I will even go so far as to say that if I’m staring at a wide-open ocean, city silhouette, or expanse of exotic plant life, I can overlook some faulty service and slightly mediocre fare (hey, you can’t win ‘em all). But unfortunately, when it comes to dining out in Manhattan, views may be hard to come by unless you are willing (and able) to shell out enough of the week’s paycheck for that sought-after seat. This city offers some of the best park views, skylines, cityscapes, and riverfronts, but steep prices will rain on any parade.
Discover a gem of the Upper West Side: Boat Basin Café, a summertime sanctuary for those seeking casual comfort or just a great place to escape the urban chaos. Hidden within Riverside Park between 9th Avenue and the Hudson, it boasts rare waterfront real estate. A flight of winding stone steps leading from the park opens out into a circle of café tables, while closer to the water looms a great vaulted stone ceiling, shading and protecting another collection of tables and chairs complete with an open bar, mounted televisions, and exposed barbeque grills. Further back is an exposed stone terrace with the choicest table options overlooking the boating docks and Hudson River.
The standard American barbeque fare (burgers, hotdogs, salads, sandwiches) is nothing to rave about, nor is its presentation (the picnic food is packed on paper plates folded into woven baskets and spills gracelessly over the edges). The decent portions, however, ensure a hearty lunch.
The restaurant itself is by no means of Michelin-starred quality either. Disposable cutlery is doled out in plastic wrap along with plastic cups (the latter being biodegradable), and paper napkins stashed messily into metal bins are the centerpieces at every table. The smoke, billowing from the exposed grills, carries with the wind and hangs heavily over the crowds. And in the summer, it gets hot in the heat, with no respite save for the green umbrellas that provide an ounce of shade from the sweltering sun. In the fall, though, wind tents and heaters are brought out to shelter visitors from the winds coming off the water.
But therein lies the charm of the place – a waterside grill and true boardwalk-style neighborhood hangout fit for families with baby strollers, lunchers accompanied by dogs on leashes (dogs are welcome here), and rowdy groups in for a sports game. Light contemporary music can be faintly heard under the din of convivial chatter. It is the best place for good conversation and casual catch-ups with old friends. And those lucky enough to score riverside tables can dine with wonderful views of the river and the far Jersey shore. The hour during sunset is particularly spectacular, showcasing the sun slipping silently behind the skyline of the Palisades.
Set away from the noise and bustle of the undulating crowds along the heavily populated city streets, Boat Basin Café is a side of New York rarely seen. Dining in one of the biggest cities in the world where you can sit back and enjoy bobbing boats, the setting sun, a gentle breeze, and truly modest prices, there’s really no reason to complain.
Read more about Boat Basin Cafe in Our New York Guide.