Four seasonal restaurants that can only be enjoyed in the summer
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy in Manhattan when there’s always a new pop-up or market or festival to check out. High up on seasonal to-do lists, though, should be these four restaurants that only open in the warmer months due to their outdoor venues that are absolutely spectacular but can’t weather the cold. Catch them—and their fresh seafood, fine wines, and picture-perfect views—while you can.
Amid the street theatrics and running subway-catchers of Union Square Park, the Pavilion Market Café is an oasis that feels like a world away. Set in the park’s landmark pavilion with its neoclassical arch, the restaurant is only open from spring until early fall, when warm breezes blow through its open-air structure and rustle the leaves of the many potted palms. As is fitting for a restaurant set right near the famous Union Square Farmers Market, the menu is seasonal, with sections devoted to market vegetable dishes like roasted rainbow carrots; raw-fish starters and seafood dishes such as organic salmon with summer orange and white soy sauce; and entrees that complement classic mains with inventive produce-driven accompaniments, like branzino with lemon chimicurri and fennel. Cocktails, too, make good use of the tastiest fruits du jour. (Union Square West at 17th St.)
Should you find yourself on the Upper West Side on a nice summer evening, perhaps after a day spent in Central Park or the Natural History Museum, get yourself to the Boat Basin Café in time for the sunset. Lively and casual with checkered tablecloths and plastic chairs, the seasonal restaurant is sprawled out in a rotunda under limestone arches overlooking a marina and the Hudson River, with tee-shirted service bustling around with plates of barbecue, sandwiches, and assorted fried starters matched with beers and well drinks. It’s nothing fancy, but for a spot that’s equally non-touristy and nonchalant, nowhere beats the Boat Basin as the fiery summer sun sinks behind the Palisades. (79th St. at the Hudson River)
One of the best reasons to visit the High Line in the summer is the seasonal outpost of Terroir, Tribeca’s beloved wine bar that has in fact been hailed as one of the best wine bars in the world. At Terroir at the Porch, the perfect picnics are served out of a shipping container to diners seated around wooden tables. There are delicious sandwiches, fresh salads, little snacks like olives and tapenade, and build-your-own arrays of charcuterie and cheese, all coupled with a lovely alfresco setting and, of course, fine wines. Terroir seems to bring the best enjoyments of summer together in one spot: fine fresh fare, the great outdoors, and a bit of day-drinking too. (15th St. at Tenth Ave.)
After its couple of years of wild success, North River Lobster Co. opened a much- touted sister establishment in May: Fish Bar at North River Landing. Also operating out of Pier 81, a three-level yacht has been turned into 10,000 square feet of lounge and restaurant space specializing in great cocktails and—what else?—great seafood. But unlike its lobster-centric sister, Fish Bar offers a broader menu of finer fare like crusted, spicy Plymouth Rock Oytsers and Dover sole crudo, along with an extensive selection of craft beers and champagne as well as a wine program headed by an in- house (or, in-boat) sommelier—and, it takes reservations for its cruises for groups of 14 or more. It’s an all-around upscale experience, but prepare to make some careful decisions, not just about the 12 small plates (all of which sound fantastic) but also where to plant yourself for the cruise ride—on the roof patio, in the bi-level dining area, or at one of the two indoor-outdoor bars. (41st St. at Twelfth Ave.)