Written by Hulda Lawrence
There probably are many new Yorkers who do not know of the heavenly place called The Boathouse, located on East 72nd Street and Park Drive North right in Central Park, (212) 517-2233. While the weather is mild it is a wonderful opportunity to leave the cares and problems of the city behind and sit outdoors where the waters and the greenery combine to let one forget the rest of the world. It is so peaceful and quiet and, incidentally, the food is good too!
Recently we lunched at The Boathouse as did many others. Service is helpful, but mainly it's the atmosphere that grabs your attention. Our General Manager Safet is from Montenegro and keeps an eye on everything. We began with a Caipirinha for my companion and a Bellini for me. Cachaca rum with sugar and freshly squeezed limes made her drink. My Bellini of Prosecco and white peach puree was a joy. The last time I had one was at Harry's Bar in Venice!
Our lunch began with New Zealand Mussels for me and a Lump Crab Cake for my companion. Both choices were excellent. The crab cake had no fillers and the mussels were quite large. Other appetizers include Boathouse Salad, Savory Goat Cheese Cake, Chilled Calamari and Shrimp Salad, and Country Pate, $10 to $15.
Our waitress, Marine from Brooklyn, advised us on our entrees. My choice was Berkshire Pork Medallions with sauerkraut and Macintosh apples with caraway and Martinelli's apple cider reduction. It was tasty and very filling. My companion's Sauteed Red Snapper was accompanied by heirloom tomato salad. She had a glass of Chardonnay, Domaine Talmard, from France and my wine was Cabernet Sauvignon, Gran Lurton from Argentina. Each was a fine accompaniment to our entrees. Boathouse Burger, Basil Crusted Halibut, Grilled Shrimp Provençal, Tuna Nicoise and Salmon are other entrees from $19 to $27.
Desserts were intriguing. We tasted three: Lavender Pannacotta, a blueberry compote with cornmeal shortbread; Lemon Cake with crème fraiche ice cream; and a devine Rhubarb Crisp with pink peppercorn ice cream. Other desserts are Chocolate-Orange mousse, Warm Chocolate-Raspberry Cake, a number of ice creams and sorbets along with a selection of artisanal cheeses. Desserts are $8 and $8.50 with the cheese being $16.
We hated to leave this enchanting place, but there were people waiting for tables. I can't wait to return on another sunny day for spiritual refreshment and good food.
NOTE: For instructions on how to reach the Boathouse and for reservations call 212 517-2233.
Hours: All year round Lunch is Monday thru Friday Noon to 4 p.m. Mid April to early November Dinner is 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Weekends: Brunch 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dinner 6 to 9:30 p.m.
For a visit to Cuba without flying or boarding a ship, visit Guantanamera at 939 Eighth Avenue, between 55th and 56th Streets, 212 262 5354. The restaurant was originally named Azucar, and the the food, décor and joi de vivre remain the same. Right in the front window is Cuban native Carlos Mateu, an expert cigar maker, and diners can watch as he takes tobacco sheets and hand rolls Cuban style cigars that patrons can take home at no charge. The overhead whirling fans and the lively Cuban music (sometimes live groups) add to the excitement.
With a separate menu listing Mojitos we began with a Traditional Mojito for my companion, done with white Bacardi rum, muddled limes, macerated mint leaves, a splash of soda and garnished with a sugar cane and mint. It was truly an authentic drink. My Mango Mojito was basically the same except for the addition of mango. We sipped and felt we were a million miles away as we nibbled Jamon Serrano y Queso Manchego, cured Serrano ham and aged Spanish cheese served with roasted tomato-rubbed bread; and Camarones al Ajillo, delicious shrimp accompanied by a warm sauce. Other appetizers include Empanadas; Calamares al Ajillo; Chorizo Salteado Con Mariquitas; Tostones Rellenos, plantains stuffed with shrimp; Mejillones Con Vino, mussels with white wine; Albondigas al Azafran, meatballs with a saffron; and Pinchos, mixed marinated skewers of beef, chicken and shrimp. Appetizers are $5 to $10.
In the Hemingway approach, drinking in Cuba is an important activity. The Mojitos we drank were fine, and there are others done with pineapple, raspberry and a Mojito Martini. There are Daiquiris, Margaritas and a terrific Piña Colada. Then there are special drinks like Caipirinha, Valeria, Rumba and Mentira (for women only) made of liquor 43, Frangelico and Chocolate Chip Liquor. Of course there is Sangria and a list of premium rums. All the drinks are a prepared by Andrea from Ecuador who makes them look as good as they taste! Drink prices are $10 to $16 for a premium rum.
Angelo, our waiter from Mexico, helped us choose our entrees. Lechon Asado Con Mojo Campestre, suckling pig, was one choice served with congri (white rice with black beans). Ropa Vieja, braised skirt steak in a garlic sauce of sliced onions, green peppers in a mashed plantain bucket, was our other main dish. Other entrees are Corvina al Estilo Hemingway, white sea bass set on fava beans and little neck clams in a red sauce. Several paellas, chicken and Cuban beefsteak are available. Entrees are $10 to $17.
There are salads with artichokes, avocado, pineapple, grilled shrimp and grilled chicken breast. Sandwiches are chicken, pork, Serrano ham and the traditional Cuban Steak Sandwich. Salads are $6 to $15 with grilled shrimp. Sandwiches are $8 to $10.
Brunch is served Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays at $12. A great variety of dishes are offered, with pitchers of Sangria, Mimosa or Mango Bellini.
Desserts are Rice Pudding, Flan, Banana Bread Pudding, Crepes Stuffed with guava and vanilla ice cream, Sponge Cake soaked in three milks and are $6 to $8.
For a great time learning about Cuban food and drink visit Guantanamera. Manager Mario Zarate will answer all you questions and will advice you on wines.
There is lower level with private rooms and where musicians have space to play.
Hours: Lunch: Monday to Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.