It's been a summer where the Hudson River waterfront has been successfully vying for my undivided attention. And who could blame me, what with buzzy new Hudson River lures like the North River Lobster Company's free mini-cruises or the happening new Tribeca oyster bar aboard the historic Grand Banks schooner? But once August rolled around, I felt a calling toward the east and my long-neglected East River, especially when hearing about the newly revamped The Crow's Nest bar, a casual happy hour haven with a primo riverfront perch, set atop one of the city's best special occasion fine-dining venues, The Water Club.
The yacht club-reminiscent pair of sister establishments juts out onto the East River on a permanently moored, bi-level barge, to transporting waterfront views. While the venues suffered serious damage in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the destination is shipshape once again, following major restorations that saw The Water Club reopen in fall 2013, trailed by the Crow's Nest in May 2014. Here's what to expect:
The Water Club
A fine-dining staple for more than 30 years, this nautically inspired establishment pairs unmatched East River views with twinkling overhead lights and nightly piano music, for the ultimate in romantic special-occasion dining. Expect modern twists on classic American cuisine, highlighting fresh regional ingredients, with Chef Aaron Bashy putting an emphasis on seafood, with dishes like steamed Maine lobster or North Carolina rainbow trout, though meat dishes like double cut lamb chops and filet mignon also fare well with foodies. New for 2014, their "dock-to-dish program" features fresh-from-the-fisherman fare, sourced from Long Island waters—the day I was in, fresh-caught tuna was the weekly special, served up in delightful incarnations like mouth-watering tuna tartare.
A new post-Sandy offering, à la carte weekend brunches (formerly buffets) dish out plates like sweet ricotta blintzes and eggs Benedict, paired with mimosas and Bloody Marys, naturally. Plus, dip into the sophisticated indoor lounge for well-crafted cocktails met by a crackling wood-burning fireplace (in season). Dinner served Tuesdays through Sundays; closed Mondays; open for brunch on weekends.
The Crow's Nest
On The Water Club's upper deck, this recently revamped casual dining alternative—and perfect perch for alfresco cocktails—is one of summer's hidden-away gems, having reopened, post-Sandy in May 2014. Nosh on light bites like burgers, lobster rolls, and raw bar selections, washed down by spiked lemonade, bourbon iced tea, or sangria. Survey the Queens/Brooklyn skyline, boating activity along the East River, and active comings and goings at the neighboring 34th Street Heliport. Open seasonally, closed Mondays.
East River at 30th St., note that pedestrian access under the FDR is via 34th St. (there's no access from 30th St.); complimentary valet parking is available; 212-683-3333; www.thewaterclub.com.