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Battery Gardens: More Beauty Than Brains

Battery Gardens is like that attractive man you see from across the bar that becomes decidedly less appealing as soon as he opens his mouth and inanity comes pouring out. It is a drop-dead gorgeous restaurant with arguably one of the best views in Manhattan, and yet the food is mediocre.

The airy space sits right in Battery Park, overlooking the water, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Not a tree, not a waving human lady liberty obstructs the pristine view. Imagine the disappointment when the food is anything less than extraodinary – talk about wasted potential! The all-white dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the bay is punctuated by extravagant and vibrant bouquets of violet flowers; luxurious fabric-draped chandeliers hang softly from the high ceilings; white fabric chairs at white table-clothed tables with small twinkling white tealight candles set a serene and pristine mood.

The cuisine is eclectic modern American with everything from spaghetti bolognese and wood-oven thin-crust pizzas to miso-glazed cod to lamb loin with dried fruit rice pilaf. Perhaps the over-extended menu should have been an immediate tip-off; it lacks focus and clarity. Mis-matched influences from continental Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and as far reaching as East Asia create muddy and confused flavors and prevent proper and razor-sharp execution of dishes.

My party of 8 ordered everything from the roasted lamb loin to the miso-crusted cod to the asparagus risotto, pasta bolognese, and poached salmon. The dishes were met with lukewarm praise. The roasted lamb was large enough to feed an army and a touch too sweet with dried fruit pilaf and natural jus; the miso cod was strangely over-cooked with an armor-like miso crust, wilted vegetables, and jasmine rice that was too al dente for my tastes; the poached salmon blended earthy flavors with those of the sea, a bizarre and perhaps unwelcome combination – morel mushrooms and english peas with a flat unappetizingly grey piece of poached salmon? The pasta dishes fared better with a basic savory pasta bolognese that featured out of a jar sauce (not untasty, but for $20, you’ve got to be kidding me) and a goopy soupy and delicious play on asparagus risotto.

Battery Gardens features prices matched to the view instead of the food and service worthy of a 5-star restaurant (which makes the 2/3-star cuisine even harder to understand). If you’re willing to sacrifice what you’re ingesting for the majestic beauty of water views in Manhattan, Battery Gardens is your place.

Perfect for: business lunches, boozy after-work drinks, summertime patio dates

Battery Gardens on Urbanspoon

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