The Water’s Edge Restaurant: Food secondary to the view

While I was looking for the bathroom at the newly reopened Water’s Edge Restaurant in Long Island City, N.Y., a waiter thought I was instead looking for the rear of the dining room in order to marvel at the view of the Manhattan skyline and East River. A nice view, certainly, could enhance an evening dining experience. But in the end, if an establishment is deemed a restaurant, the food should take top priority.

That, in a nutshell, is where the Water’s Edge misses the boat. Its hybrid Asian and Italian dinner menu features some daring appetizers, entrees and desserts, but the execution seemed to stagger far behind the dishes’ ambitious descriptions. The Heirloom Tomato Salad ($14) was tasty with two different types of tomatoes piled between thick slices of buffalo mozzarella cheese, but the addition of a basil sorbet on the side should have come after the fact and not atop the plate, the contents slithering to a small dollop of slush by the time the dish was consumed. The Kung Pao Calamari ($14) with chillis, peanuts and Hoisin glaze was decent but a bit too large to qualify as an appetizer.

As far as the entrees were concerned, the Kurabota Pork Chop ($32) with a sweet potato hash and sun dried cranberry apricot compote was exceptional. The pork was cooked to a very tender consistency, and bits of bacon added a salty contrast that complemented the chop well. However, two other main dishes – the Hand Made Goat Cheese Ravioli ($25) and Pan Seared Ahi Tuna ($29) – failed to live up to the standard of the pork. The tuna could have used some more freshness and its accompanying soba, resembling less of a Japanese cold dipping variety and more of an American noodle salad, tasted like a separate dish rather than a key ingredient. The ravioli was especially disappointing; far better fare can be found in Manhattan, and the shrimp seemed to act as colorful adornments to the plate rather than a part of the dish itself. There’s no need to save room for dessert either – the Almond Raspberry Mille Feuille, the Roasted Apple Tort, and the Chocolate & Vanilla Crepe Cake failed to cap off the meal on a high note. In fact, the layers in the cake were so thick that they failed to qualify as crepes; one attempt to snag a morsel with a fork caused all the layers to break apart (for a far superior substitute, try the Twenty-Layer Crepes Cake Brulee at the Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar in Manhattan instead).

With a self-titled dual distinction of wanting to be a “restaurant” yet cater to “private affairs,” the Water’s Edge is trying to bring glamour to dining, particularly with an exclusive ferry running from Manhattan to its Queens location from Wednesdays to Saturdays. Added convenient transportation aside, it will take more than a nice view to lure savvy New Yorker foodies to its shores.

The Water’s Edge Restaurant is located at The East River at 44th Drive in Long Island City, N.Y. For more information, go to www.watersedgenyc.com.

Bibs Teh contributed to this report.

all photos by Bibs Teh / Meniscus Magazine