Boathouse GrilleJuly 2016 (dt)
6.33 – 7.25, 6.9, 6.5, 6.5, 6, 6, 5.5, 5

Early summer 2016 found us reconnoitering one last sharp downhill turn to Shady Harbor Marina and its accompanying restaurant, Boathouse Grille.
          The menu’s wide range of fifteen appetizers, ten soups and salads, ten variations of pizza, a dozen sandwiches, twenty entrées, and fifteen beers on tap should satisfy most casual travelers. It is a comfortable, scenic spot on the Hudson River, especially on a 90 degree day, at 6:30, when the rear-side cliff casts its shadows onto the nestling restaurant, dissipating the heat’s intensity.

Our choices of the evening, in the appetizer category:
===> Boathouse crispy bangin’ cornmeal dusted shrimp, tossed in spicy Boathouse sauce, served on a bed of arugula (Joyce: excellent)
===> Boathouse creamy seafood chowder, with scallops, shrimp, clams, celery, carrots, Spanish onions and sweet sherry cream sauce (Don: meh, lots of sauce, want more substance and more of what is advertised)
===> Greek salad, with spinach, red onion, cucumbers, mixed olives (lots), buttery croutons and feta cheese (Deb T, and a Karneses’ share: a very good salad)
===> Caesar salad, with its crisp romaine lettuce, buttery croutons, shaved parmesan, and NO anchovies (Monteverds’ share: a worthy enough salad)

Entrées included:
===> the Chowder described above: (Deb T, Joyce: advertised as a bowl but it came in a crock the size of a cup, for the money a tad small; good enough but could have been more)
===> Fish tacos – three flour tortillas filled with crispy haddock filet, topped with a cilantro coleslaw; and an extra charge side salad replacing the fries (Don: average; the scenery and company made them better; shared one with Deb)
===> Fish & chips- beer battered haddock, served with coleslaw and fries (Ken: very good)
===> Catch of day (beef!) – three ounces of filet mignon, topped with two shrimp, sides of smashed potatoes and a half-plate of green beans (Chay, Kriss, Mark: it was good enough but not much for the money; had expected a heftier piece of meat; one left hungry if expecting a full meal)
===> Seafood pot pie with shrimp and scallops in a sweet sherry cream sauce, topped with lump crab meat and flaky puffed pastry (Deb K: really good, rich and delicious, and good as advertised)

===> Flourless chocolate torte cake (Don, of course: appropriately dense and chocolatey, even better with a half-scoop of vanilla ice cream from Kriss)
===> Vanilla bean ice cream – three generous scoops, drizzled with chocolate syrup (Kriss: ice cream servings as they should be)
===> Hot fudge cheesecake (a Karneses’s share [not sure who did more of the sharing]; good enough)
===> Lemon drop raspberry cake – a four layer, three inch round (Deb T: excellent)

Two baskets of chewy rolls preceded the appetizers and were apparently tasty enough to make us order another basket in short order. However, it took a loooong time coming. (Did it ever come?)

Our drink order strayed from the usual. One glass of wine, beer on tap or bottled for three, a peach sangria, a cucumber mojito, a pretty red drink (steel trap mind!), and two Tanqueray and tonics fit the table.

Service was, well,… singularly distinctive. Or, as another put it, “interesting to say the least.” Our intro to Andrea was her short arms and big head, and that was her intro. She took care of orders, poured water, delivered food, cleared plates but I hope inexperience was her excuse. A bit brusque, not particular personable, repetitive phrases – I would have to go a long way back to find a server’s personality this prickly. Service for drinks and bread was slow. Still, she tried hard enough to be almost likeable.
          A plus was the Executive Chef (and chief dishwasher, as he self-described) stopped by near our meal’s end to ascertain our culinary pleasure. A nice touch.
          One of Andrea’s problems was taking orders by an iPad that required typing the order, clumsiness at its best. Not her fault but it did not help either.

Ambiance is a strong suit of Boathouse, especially its setting. Quiet water on a sunny afternoon cast reflections that are the essence of living by water. A dozen or more boats were tied up to the docks, occasionally eliciting a wistful glance. We kidded the big one was ours. A couple barges chugged past, with one of them, probably from the Coeymans yard, muscling one of the enormous girders we thought destined for the new Tappan Zee Bridge. Quite a sight.
          One walks through an inviting door to face a large room of about thirty tables that could serve as a pleasant meeting place for a large group. We were ushered past the bar and TVs and onto the deck. Here, another twenty five tables, easily seating a hundred or more, waited to be filled. Our table’s arrangement gave a direct view of the river for four; the other four sat with back to the river but caught almost the same view from the reflective windows facing us. A colonial blue-gray paint made the deck a tad darker and perhaps cooler. A fetchingly stylish awning covered the entire deck, minimizing the wind and allowing the fans to make a difference. The ninety degree heat felt more like eighty.
          A linen wrapped knife and fork set sat beside a small plate. Centerpieces, other than salt and shaker sets, escaped my notice. Deck chairs were satisfactory. Noise level was reasonably quiet until the table of twelve men were seated beside us an hour into our dinner. A round of drink quieted them after fifteen minutes.
          It is just darn pretty.

The bill eventually came to $100 per couple. The first part came to $92 per couple, we paid, and sat around to talk another fifteen minutes. Then Andrea re-introduced herself and announced that she had forgotten to include desserts. Another bill for $8 per couple. Just damn clumsy. What if we had left right after paying our first bill?
          We mostly agreed that the value was relatively low. Entrée prices were mostly in mid-20s; add a salad to that and a diner starts with low-mid 30s for a basic meal. (Well, pizza or a burger could have been our choice; a similar situation a few months back at Miss Lucy’s Kitchen garnered similar comments. I thought casual summer was pricier than trendy Saugerties. We are perhaps too accustomed to MVB.)
          I think scores would have been higher but the service was decidedly a factor for most of us. Still, most of us agreed that on a nice summer night, a drink in hand, a view across the Hudson River, with good company, Boathouse is worth a return.

Being a group summer pick, we met directly at the restaurant, thereby condensing the list of topics to ponder and discuss, although an outside witness might not have noticed. The topics I heard included: a warm summer, mostly, so far; drying lawns; the Wexler Old-Timer party; relationships; relationships that puzzle us; relationships that could have been; the underwear model; Dennis’s trip; grandkids; things keeping us busy; vegetable gardens of varying degrees of productivity; Hilton Head; August plans; Tappan Zee Bridge accident; Saratoga; the Notar new car; the second Notar new car; having and taking care of boats; Kriss feeling the one-drink warmth; golf; FB posts of Paris landmarks with the Quinns in the foreground; a Monteverd trip to VA after Labor Day; the whereabouts of the Adamses; grandparents babysitting, or not; Zoom Flume; bicycling; tile floors; helping at the church; Finger Lakes trips; Chris’s job; and more. I know Ken zinged a couple good ones but I have forgotten them. Shucks, Judy.