To me, New York City is like a crown with a lot of gems in it; some being the Empire State Building, 30 Rock and the Statue of Liberty. But that center stone, the one that shines brightest would be Central Park. I thought back to iconic movies like Barefoot in the Park with Jane Fonda, or Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn, that had scenes filmed in Central Park. The park was not just a back drop for the characters, but it became a character itself. The park could evoke feelings in us as movie watchers. Feelings of romance or excitement and adventure. So, when the cab let us off at the entrance to the park that gray day, I felt my heart race a little as I took my first steps down those cobbled streets.
My friend Kim, who was my traveling partner on this east coast adventure, and I were headed to the Boathouse restaurant deep within Central Park. The original Boathouse restaurant was built in the mid 1870’s but had burned down, and the new structure was erected in the 1950’s. The restaurant was decorated in its most festive Christmas finery, garlands and bows everywhere. It’s not a large space, so every table in the restaurant has a glorious view of the lake which butts right up to the restaurant. It was a gray afternoon that day, and the place was bathed in a diffused white light that made it feel very wintry.
The Boathouse had a nice sized menu filled with a variety of classic American favorites. Many of the choices were too heavy and dinner-like for me, so I opted to start with a light salad. I ordered the butter lettuce salad with Maytag blue cheese, sliced pears and spicy cashews in a sesame dressing ($10). It was quite good. I probably should have tried one of their more sophisticated dishes to get a better idea of the quality of their food, but instead I ordered their Boathouse burgers ($19).
When I took the first bite, I realized that this is certainly not the type of place you come to get a good New York burger. Sadly, the burger was dense, not juicy and very under seasoned. It came with house made tater tots, a nice touch, 3 condiment sauces and crunchy pickles. It made a great visual presentation, but it lacked somewhat in flavor. I suppose if a great burger was what I was really after, then I should have gone to Peter Lugers or P.J. Clarke’s.
But ultimately what I came for was the Central Park experience, and for that The Boathouse restaurant delivers. The staff was very friendly and accommodating, and didn’t mind that we sat there for two hours to drink in the beauty of that iconic park. When I listened real closely, I could almost hear Barbara Streisand singing “On A Clear Day” and I thought to myself how happy I was to have come there.
The Boathouse Restaurant Central Park, E. 72nd St. & Park Drive North, New York, NY