When I arrived in New York last week, for the start of my summer on the East Coast, one of the first things I heard about was this boat on the Hudson, on which they served oysters. I was told that I must go. Sounded dreamy. Truly, as in my mind, being on the water, or in a boat, doesn’t so much happen on the fair isle of Manhattan.
A few days later, when meeting my friend Karen Duffy for dinner, she asked to rendezvous at Greenwich Street and Harrison Street. I was skeptical but didn’t ask questions. Duffy always knows what’s up. We walked toward the river, then down Pier 25, and, at some point among the breathless catch-up chatter, I realized we were approaching a long (142-foot, to be exact) antique (1942) sailboat teeming with revelers.
We hopped on board the schooner, which I later learned is named the Sherman Zwicker. Gripping the sides at first and fearing seasickness, we made our way on deck, past the first bar jostling with drinkers—high on life, really! As they/we were on a boat just as sunset was about to do its thing (about 7:30 p.m.).
Over by the stairs to the Engine Room, we went to see about a table. (Could they really fit dining tables on this vessel?). Getting my sea legs, I noticed a wave from a very radiant, happy person. (This pretty much describes the vibe on the boat, in case my prior description did not get the point across.) The waving hand was attached to my friend Yolanda Edwards (taste queen and creative director of Condé Nast Traveler), where she sat with her husband (photographer Matt Hranek, also a tastemaker) and more old friends—the sublime couple Chris Mitchell (GQ publisher) and Pilar Guzman (EIC of Condé Nast Traveler). Of course they were here.
The friends were chatting to a man named Alex, who turned out to be a proprietor. Grand Banks is Alex Pincus’ first restaurant (which he started with his brother Miles, chef Mark Firth, of Diner and Marlow & Sons, and Adrian Gallo, of Double Happiness and Happy Ending). “I am an architect, and I own a boat,” Pincus offered by way of explanation. “It’s a summer thing,” he added.
It was Grand Banks’ 12th day in business, but the word was clearly out. The hostess phoned us after a while (we were on the prow, taking in the view of Lady Liberty) and showed us to our table. We ordered everything on the menu, which the waitress tapped into her iPad (all very high-tech/low-tech). It’s an eensy menu, half of which offers oysters and the rest of which is raw fish (seviche, crudo), zucchini blossoms, and an arugula salad.
The Shooting Point Salts (oysters) just about knocked our sandals off. So creamy. Even without the cucumber-coriander mignonette and spicy kumquat cocktail sauce, which were good enough to eat on their own.
Photos: Courtesy of Lauren Goodman