Keeping with Manhattan's floating restaurant trend of summer 2014 (like the recent debut of the North River Lobster Company), Grand Banks—a schooner-cum-bar/restaurant—is now docked on the Hudson, along Tribeca's Pier 25. Open since early July, the atmospheric 142-foot sailboat marks the largest wooden vessel on display in NYC, welcoming patrons to hop aboard for some nautically inspired tippling, paired with sustainably sourced oysters and small seasonal plates.
The bar- and kitchen-equipped vessel, which will remain docked at the pier (note there's no actual sailing involved), serves to reinvent the historic F/V Sherman Zwicker, which launched in 1942 in Nova Scotia. The ship marks the last of its kind from a fleet of schooners that once fished the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, carrying cargoes of fish and salt between the North Atlantic and South America. More recently, the Sherman Zwicker, under the ownership of the Grand Banks Schooner Museum Trust, served as a traveling maritime museum.
Its latest incarnation likewise maintains a small maritime exhibit downstairs, run in conjunction with the not-for-profit Maritime Foundation, which aims to debrief visitors on the ship's seafaring history.
The shipboard restaurant concept, a nod to the 19th-century oyster barges that were once prevalent on NYC waterways, is the brainchild of restaurateurs Mark Firth (co-founder of Williamsburg's Diner and Marlow & Sons) and Adrien Gallo, along with mariner-minded brothers Miles and Alex Pincus.
The Sherman Zwicker has been refitted to offer a duo of top-deck bars (one serves as a small raw bar), along with seating and tables for up to 145 patrons; the galley area is tucked down below deck.
Swashbucklers onboard today can stick to the raw bar menu of assorted oysters (from $3.50 apiece) and small seasonal plates, which change regularly. When I checked in, the menu cited a red snapper ceviche, served with radish, melon, cilantro, lime, and chili ($16); and an arugula salad tossed with ricotta, figs, and thyme infused honey ($14).
Cocktails ($16) come with maritime themes like the Engine Room (lager, Aquavit, ginger, and lemon), or the Java Swizzle (white rum, lime juice, and espresso liqueur). Grand Banks also offers a small selection of beer and wines by the glass.
The ship will be docked at Pier 25 through October, before it makes way further south in search of warmer winter weather; plans are in the works for Grand Banks to return yet again to Tribeca in summer 2015.
Note that seating is first-come, first-served (no reservations are accepted). Grand Banks is open through October, from 4pm till 11pm on weekdays, and from noon till 11pm on weekends. In the event of rain, check their website to confirm opening. Pier 25, Hudson River Park at N. Moore St. in Tribeca; grandbanks.org