It’s such a tourist hot-spot — The Central Park Boathouse. Of course I have wandered up through the park with out-of-town guests, but I have never had the time to sit down for a meal in the Boathouse — that was, until this weekend.
So many movies have shot several scenes outside of the Boat House, like Made of Honor, and of course 27 Dresses starring Katherine Heigl. Actually Katherine Heigl’s character in 27 Dresses, Jane, dreams about having her reception at the Boathouse and instead her little sister rips her dream from her and declares that she will be taking that location for her wedding… Nice sister, right? (Above is a photo of a scene from 27 Dresses, where Katherine Heigl and her co-star Edward Burns are taste-testing food for the upcoming wedding!)
But I wasn’t going to the Boat House for a wedding, rather it was for a simple Saturday afternoon lunch. My boyfriend and I thought we would finally head up to the Boathouse for brunch, but we were in for a big surprise when we ran into a few obstacles along the way to Central Park.
This past Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day and both of us completely forgot how crazy the city was bound to be. So when our cab driver dropped us off at 72nd and Madison, rather than 72nd and 5th ave, we knew we were going to have an issue getting over to the park. 5th Avenue runs along side the east side of Central Park and you have to cross the avenue in order to get into the park. Once you cross 5th ave at 72nd street you can wander down a hill and run into the Conservatory Water aka the place where all the children take their wooden boats to let loose into the man-made pond. On Saturday, a gigantic hose was actually filling the Conservatory Water back up (I guess they drain it in the winter time). Then, in order to get to the Boathouse you need to keep to the left of the boat pond and head up a small hill. Once you’re at the top of that small hill you will find a much large pond where the Boathouse sits at the end of it.
Well, my boyfriend and I walked from Madison to 5th Avenue (only one avenue of a walk) but we quickly saw a swarm of people all crowded around the street. We completely forgot about the St. Patrick’s Day Parade that goes the whole way up 5th avenue. (I found that strange, in my opinion the parade was traveling backwards up 5th avenue instead of down.) We had to wait for at least 20 minutes until the police gave us the O.K to cross the street into Central Park. And once we were in the park we were surrounded by tourists and B&T (bridge and tunnel) folks who were visiting the city for St. Patrick’s Day. The upsetting part about it was there were drunk people every where! From teenagers to parents escorting their kids — you could smell the booze on everyone. I truly felt bad for the NYPD who had to work on Saturday.
My boyfriend and I were shocked when we found out we only had to wait 30 minutes for our table at the Boat House. And my boyfriend who is always read to eat a meal insisted that we head to the Wafels and Dinges food truck that was parked not too far away. My boyfriend is so funny when it comes to food, some times I feel like I have to eat much faster than I typically would in order to get a sampling of food because he eats so fast if I don’t act quickly I could miss out on some great food. (I guess that’s how girls who grew up with brothers feel. Am I right?)
Immediately after he finished his waffle our table buzzer went off and we were seated. It was so difficult to decide what we should order — so many plates sounded delicious! We ultimately settled for lunch rather than brunch since it was already 3 p.m. So, we ordered: Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with marinated cucumbers and served with a caper remoulade, Boathouse Grilled Chicken Paillard served with heirloom tomatoes, roasted beats, English cucumber, and Bermuda onion lemon dijon vinaigrette, and finally a special consisting of scallops served with truffled mashed potatoes.
The crab cake came out first and in my opinion it was the perfect dish we could have ordered to start our meal. We nearly had a Battle of the Forks when it came to digging into this crab cake — and the caper remoulade added a creamy texture to the moist crab cake and the flavor of the remoulade brought out all of the divine tastes of the crab. It was a perfect portion size too for two people — although it wouldn’t hurt to have ordered one for each of us!
Next up were our entrees — even though we always share whatever we end up ordering, my boyfriend’s plate choice was the chicken and mine was the scallops. I was shocked when my dish was placed in front of me because the way the plate was described led me to believe that I would receive only a few small scallops. While the scallops were very small, the plate was filled with them! I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was so much food in my order! Perfectly sauteed and distributed over the truffled mashed potatoes, the scallops were able to soak in some extra truffle flavors and the mashed potatoes were also the perfect compliment.
The chicken my boyfriend ordered was unbelievable. Perfectly cooked, the meat was moist and full of surprising flavors. You could tell that the chef either spent a lot of time putting such fantastic flavors into the meat, or he just has the perfect marinade to wow those who order it. The taste of the chicken was very sophisticated, and the addition to the candied apples on top was the perfect way to sneak in some sweet flavors to the dish.
Overall, we were so happy we were able to finally get up to the Central Park Boathouse for lunch, and on such a beautiful day too. The Boathouse restaurant is the perfect place to compromise for people who want something touristy, while someone else may want to visit classic New York and sample fantastic food. Who knew you could do both at the same time!