With the last few weeks of summer upon us, the pressures to plan a coastal getaway are as rampant as ever. But when funds and scheduling keep the bay at bay, a quick and close escape on the water is as good as any. Fortunately, Kelli Farwell and Sue Walsh had both adventure and convenience in mind when they co-founded The Water Table, a reservations-only dinner boat that sails the East River during weekends this summer. We caught up with Farwell and Walsh for an opening piece back in December, and we recently had the chance to experience the sailing dinner party for ourselves.
We checked in with the team at the Skyport Marina (23rd Street and FDR Drive) and then stepp aboard The Revolution, a WWII Yard Patrol boat, to find our group’s assigned reservation placement via nametag. As 35 guests settled into bench and stool seating, servers promptly circulated the floor to take drink orders while captain, chef, and co-founder Farwell greeted fellow sailors with safety and route information. Minutes into pushing away from the dock, negronis, sidecars, and Manhattans came (a wooden divider around the edge of the boat served as a cup holder) and three-course food orders were taken.
As we approached Roosevelt Island, a second round of cocktails appeared — this one on the house because a fellow river rider violated a no wake zone. The rough sway-into-spillage also helped break down party lines and any pre-existing dinner boat social cues. Rain had accompanied the dock push-off, but its disappearance signaled servers to unzip thick plastic sheets of window and welcome in gusts of wind and unhampered views of the Empire State Building and Gantry Plaza State Park. Your reservation would be worth making for this alone.
A first course of either chilled cucumber soup or wedge salad makes way for more substantial and focused East Coast fare: Maine lobster rolls, New England dry rub chicken, and summer panzanella salad. Ice cream floats show up for dessert and rest upon a glassful of root beer, mandarin orange soda, or Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout.
The Water Table offers seating for dinner at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 6 p.m. on Sundays through December.