Sunday, October 25, 2009
THE WATER’S EDGE RESTAURANT: DRAMATIC VIEWS, TRADITIONAL SERVICE, AND NEW WORLD CUISINE
44th Drive, Long Island City, New York
Words, Judith Ecochard
Manhattanites, residents or worker bees, do not lack for drama in their lives. Just taking in the ambiance of a typical rush hour subway is enough of that- in and of itself.
But even hard core, seen it all types- will find their jaws dropping the nanosecond the panoramic views from the Water’s Edge--- all glass paneled dining room/bar come into play.
Lucky us, we were able enjoy the magnificent sights and delicious modern and refreshed old world gastronomy of this recently refurbished destination- on a balmy October night.
Our journey to the right side of the East River began with a private 15 minute ferry ride from Manhattan (hint: check ferry schedule)…where we decompressed with a glass of bubbly, all gratis too…and chatted up the nicest NYC ‘mass transit” employees (a hostess and the Captain, Water’s Edge employees) we’ve ever encountered.
Once at this airy/ spacious restaurant…there’s a wide outdoor veranda, a full sized bar, a plush banquette lined lounge with a grand piano and flickering fireplace, a large elegant downstairs dining room, and upstairs private facilities for special occasions…we were warmly greeted by the Manager Alim. Clearly this professional host and his entire staff, are dedicated to ensuring the best possible experience for all guests. We feel this restaurant gets an A+ on that--- and look forward to trying out it's siblings...other eateries owned by the Singh Hospitality Group, a Long Island based company.
This is a romantic establishment-wonderfully touching all five senses: the thick white linens, the gracious and formal (read: not stuffy) service, the solid tableware, the contemporary design aesthetics fused with traditional touches, non-intrusive music in the background, etc. Yet our fellow diners at our Wednesday evening 8:30 dinner hour ran the gamut from a family with a small child (so European--- and they were), two gal pals, a few business expense types (all men, suit and ties), and an older gent with two twenty something grandkids.
We like that.
The upscale atmosphere was the appropriate setting for a what followed within a few minutes of seating two hungry patrons- a flourish of menus, water glasses promptly filled, warm fresh rolls selected, and drinks quickly proffered.
One half of our duo, the foodie, was more than enticed with the land and sea selections of the menu, that featured appetizers, salads, surf (like Baby Artichoke Crusted Salmon in a Saffron Broth) and turf (classics like Prime NY Strip Steak) and a Hand Made Cheese Ravioli.
Plus, the wine list, ($30---$1500 for MAJOR bottles, $29-$130 for half bottles) was extensive and exceptional---with many selections from all over the world…and with most in that sweet spot $50-$65 category. We were more than impressed by the “wines by the glass” options ($9-$16)- that are often the lesser (inferior) choices at many establishments. Our Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc (NZ $15 served at the right temperature YES!) and a pinot noir (Seba Stiani Vineyards, CA $12), recommended by the waiter---were both terrific.
And we are VERY picky.
At first, we were enticed by the seven course tasting menu ($70) but opted to take advantage of the entire menu ---from vintage to vogue. We began with two sea centric appetizers…Cold Poached Shrimp (four of them--- plump, juicy, and very FRESH $17) and the Panko Crusted Oysters and a Red Pepper Reduction ($16) served atop savory guacamole, housed on the half shells, cleverly arranged over coarse salt. The large bivalves had the right meaty texture--- and the contrasting flavors were perfectly balanced…a novel twist on how to serve this reported aphrodisiac.
Bypassing the salads that included ($8-$16) we dove straight to the entrees (start at $25).
Being waterside, we were still in the mood for more seafood…and ordered the Pan Seared Halibut ($32) with a Lobster Foie Gras Glacé- that came with tender Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, and Spinach.
Plus, we tried the Roasted Duck Breast – with Asian Style Duck Confit, Whipped Sweet Potato Mash and Asparagus ($30)...that we heard was a specialty of the house.
We were more than pleasingly satisfied. Both generously portioned entrees arrived tender, perfectly cooked, well seasoned, and wonderfully accompanied by ‘just picked’ selections of vegetables that are tasty visual and textural counterpoints.
We could not resist an extra side of sautéed wild mushrooms($9); a yummy succulent mixture of chanterelles and morels- delivered piping hot.
Executive Chef Rory O’Farrell obviously takes advantage of the local Green markets, because each bite yielded fresh, in season flavors. The ingredients of everything we had, the seafood, produce and poultry, were top quality.
Naturally, the desserts ($10) were an ideal way to end this palate-pleasing outing. The Chocolate Gateau, served with a striking sliver of a dark sugar crisp --- had rich deep chocolate flavors---while the Crème Brulee Mille Feuille dressed up with Chantilly Crème and Raspberry Coulis…was a show stopper, and our top pick. The crunchy layers, the freshly whipped creamy filler and the moist succulent raspberries were more than satisfying for our sweet tooth. And so artful we took pictures!
After dinner liquors…the many vintage ports, dessert wines, single malt scotches, and cognacs ($10-$35)…plus coffees and tea, compliment the grand finale.
IMHO: Water’s Edge is not only a grownup, sophisticated and welcoming restaurant for a special meal…it is a must for after work, bar-outdoor dining seekers. The wide, lushly planted, terrace during the warm weather--- is stunning. And, the drinks are well priced, the selection of alcohol-spirits, wine by the glass, and beer is exhaustive and well thought out…there’s a many options bar menu- available …AND the views…ha ha… did we mention that?
PLUS: Just a short (free) ferry ride away from the 23rd Street Marina…or a ten minute walk from several subway lines leaving Manhattan (the 7, E, V ---first stop in Queens-and the G)…Water’s Edge is accessible to the car-free. And worth it.
INFO: WATER’S EDGE (718) 482.0033