While Downtown Manhattan has long suffered a reputation as a wasteland for food-and-drink seekers, the game-changing Pier A Harbor House is set to point Manhattanites' compasses south for 2015. Head out to this historic and newly revamped Hudson River pier, where history, maritime-minded atmosphere, craft beer, fresh oysters, and stellar views out onto New York Harbor unite.
The massive, tri-level, 28,000-square-foot drinking-and-dining mecca comes tucked into the southwestern, Hudson River-fronted corner of Battery Park. With a beer in one hand and oyster in the other, the Statue of Liberty never looked so good. Just do yourself a favor and get there now, before the sure-to-arrive tourists put new meaning to the "huddled masses."
Closed to the public for nearly 130 years (and completely abandoned since the early '90s), the landmarked Pier A is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with a claim to many past lives. Opened in 1886, it served stints as the headquarters for the New York Harbor Police, as the VIP entrance for European ambassadors traveling to Ellis Island, and as a maritime fireboat station. The structure's crowning clock tower, now fully restored, is cited as being the first permanent World War I memorial in the nation. Its current restaurant/bar/private event space incarnation required a several-years-long, $40 million restoration process.
Pier A Harbor House is the brainchild of prolific restaurateur Peter Poulakakos, along with partners Danny McDonald and Michael Jewell, the same team behind the highly lauded Irish gang-themed The Dead Rabbit cocktail bar (also set Downtown).
The establishment's first floor dubbed the Long Hall ("long" being a more-than-accurate description) makes up a free-flowing, German beer hall-style space, with a menu of craft beers on tap, cocktails (like Dark 'n' Stormys), and light bites. Communal tables come fringed by floor-to-ceiling windows, while the decor reflects a nautical theme (look for ship-inspired gauges and lighting fixtures, along with other maritime relics). The drinking and dining is designed to spill out onto the pier's surrounding promenade, which will open during the warmer weather, with additional seating for several hundred patrons.
Two new bars are additionally set to debut on the second floor, flanking the upcoming fine dining restaurant, including a "power bar" with Financial District views, and an aperitif, salon-style bar, touting waterfront panoramas.
The ground floor's casual dining menu is highlighted by a dedicated raw bar, with a generous selection of freshly shucked oysters, clams, and more. Look for seafood-centric shareable menu items like mini lobster rolls, seafood towers, or tuna tartare). Some German beer hall-inspired grub is also up for grabs, like the Mangalitsa pork bratwurst.
A fine dining restaurant is set to open next—details are still under wraps, but it's anticipated to offer a Gilded Age-inspired design scheme, menus sourcing the bounty of the Hudson River Valley, an open kitchen, and a terrace with outdoor seating overlooking the harbor.
Waterfront views over the Hudson River and New York Harbor abound, with Lady Liberty and Ellis Island off in the distance. It's sure to rank amongst the city's most popular sunset spots. A third-floor private event space also offers views over the water as well as onto the Financial District skyline.
The Pier A Harbor House is open 7 days a week, from 11 am to 4 am. 22 Battery Place (at West St.) www.piera.com.