By Suzanne Parker
If a spectacular view and elegant ambiance is what you seek, I can’t think of any place in our borough that can beat the Water’s Edge. In fact, you’ve got to admit, there’s no place in Manhattan where you can get a more glorious and unobstructed view of Manhattan. Cross the river if you want to gaze at Queens.
While much of the Water’s Edge’s reputation is built on its catering, the restaurant and bar is a worthy destination. One of my favorite fair-weather treats when entertaining out-of-town friends (or even out-of-borough friends) is to conclude an excursion to Long Island City’s cultural sites with cocktails on the restaurant’s outdoor promenade, or at a window table if its too cold for outdoors. If you time it right, you can watch the sun set over the Manhattan skyline for the price of a cocktail, and maybe a snack from the café menu.
One of the bonuses of dining at the Water’s Edge is its attention to details, and the inclusion of pleasant little extras. Before ordering, we were served an excellent salmon tartare — a delicious morsel of chopped salmon and greens. A choice of three different types of freshly baked rolls was brought to the table, all excellent. Unobtrusive but pleasant live piano music accompanied our meal. A platter of miniature confections was brought at the end.
The Water’s Edge offers a prodigious wine list, with plenty of bottles to please even the most discriminating wine connoisseur. The maitre d’ assisted us with our wine selections. We preferred to have a white with our appetizers and a red with out entrees. Since two bottles of wine would have been more than we could handle, the maitre d’ expertly matched wines by the glass with our chosen dishes. Each wine perfectly complemented the dish with which it was matched.
Our first appetizer selection was peekytoe crab and avocado salad. Until 1997, fisherman used to throw away what was then called “Maine rock” or “sand” crabs. Then some marketing genius thought to rename them “peekytoe” crabs, and they were discovered by savvy chefs. The meat is pink with a sweet, delicate flavor, and combined wonderfully with avocado to create a palate-pleasing appetizer.
Calamari “A La Plancha” with fingerling potatoes & basil salad also lived up to expectations. It was perfectly grilled, deliciously seasoned, and nicely presented. Our dinner was off to an auspicious start.
Having had two seafood appetizers, we decided to go with two meat entrees: lackered suckling pig with root vegetable casserole, and roasted rack of baby veal with macaroni & gruyere.
The lackered (their spelling, not mine) suckling pig was crispy on the outside and succulent within. The “lacquered” style of preparation, originally associated with Peking duck, involves partially cooking the meat, drying it off, glazing it, and completing the cooking. It was done admirably on the suckling pig. The accompanying casserole of root vegetables was all right, but the dish cried out for a starchy accompaniment as well, like mashed sweet potatoes or rice.
Roasted rack of baby veal (as opposed to what, adolescent veal?) was tender and tasty, with a nice wine sauce. The big clinker of the evening was the accompanying macaroni & gruyere. At best, it was a richer version of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Even if it was done well, it is far too inelegant a side dish for such a fine meat dish. In this case, it was served cold in the middle, betraying its frozen origins. At least there were some vegetables on the plate with the meat.
Dessert was a proper finale to our meal. It was a special occasion for us, it being my husband’s birthday. I had pre-ordered a small chocolate mousse birthday cake. It arrived at our table with subtle fanfare. It was light, fluffy, and chocolatey — all you could wish for in an indulgent dessert. It was also a bargain, considering that we were only charged the price of two desserts, and got to take about three quarters of the cake home.
We also tried the pear dumplings. Pastry-encased pears are served with a chocolate dipping sauce and a dollop of their homemade ice cream. Deliciously decadent.
For a special end to a special evening, if you dine early enough to finish before the last complimentary ferry has left for Manhattan, you can enjoy a round trip boat ride before heading home.
The Bottom Line
Lavish surroundings, solicitous service, and a fabulous view set the stage for a very special evening. It’s the perfect setting for a celebration or romance — preferably both.
Water’s Edge Restaurant
44th Drive at East River, LIC
Cuisine: Upscale eclectic American
Setting: Elegant décor dominated by panoramic view
Service: Attentive and professional
Hours: Mon.–Fri., L&D, Sat.–D only, Closed Sun
Parking: Valet parking
Dress: Neat casual to dressy
Private Parties: Up to 400
Credit cards: Yes
Noise level: Acceptable
Handicap accessible: Yes
Peekytoe Crab & Avocado Salad…$12
Grilled Calamari A La Plancha, Fingerling Potato Salad…$11
Seared Duck Foie Gras…$18
Atlantic halibut aioli, artichoke, fennel & fingerling potatoes…$26
Char-grilled ahi tuna, lemon gremolata & spicy vegetable sauce…$28
Lackered suckling pig, root vegetable casserole…$24
Peppered Long Island duck breast, caramelized sweet potatoes…$26
Herb-crusted rack of Colorado lamb, Provencale Tomatoes & Idaho “maxims”…$34