I had originally only intended to bring my mother to dinner, but since my brother was there as well, I asked him if he wanted to come along and he said sure, so I hopped on opentable.com and upped our res to 3 people and confirmed it. Huzzah.
We left around 5 pm and got to the restaurant - Battery Gardens - just a few minutes before 6. On the way to the subway (the R train into Manhattan) we passed a small fire; several fire trucks were parked outside, but no water seemed to be flying. A few overweight firemen were talking with some overweight policemen, and the shortest, fattest fireman grabbed a ladder and headed towards the building. One was also on the roof. I'm not quite sure why so many firemen are out of shape, considering their job is such a physical one, but such is life. Maybe they had a lot of muscle under their layers of fat. I just hope if I'm ever stuck in a roaring blaze that the fireman who bursts in is actually in good enough shape to rescue me, because there's no way I'm carrying him down. I have a lot of respect for the profession, but seeing that bunch out there didn't inspire confidence. Anyways, we got to the subway without further incident and soon were on our way to Whitehall Street.
The restaurant has a unique location; it's actually situated right inside Battery Park, overlooking the water. From where we were seated, we could see the Statue of Liberty, among other things. The view could've been better, though - the dining room was low enough that it was hard to actually see anything. The 2nd floor dining room didn't seem to be open, which was too bad, as the views must be magnificent up there.
The restaurant had a prix-fix menu tonight, which was fine. I had the crab cake to start off with, followed by a trout main course and a sort of triple-layered chocolate cake for dessert. My mother and brother both had the lamb shank main course, which was huge. My brother started with a salad and finished with the cheesecake, and my mother started with the gazpacho and finished with the same chocolate dessert I had.
The crab cake was pretty good. It was light, and came with a spicy peanut sauce drizzled on the plate. The trout was interesting - it had bits of citrus fruit on top, and was on top of a bed of couscous with golden raisins (the proper name escapes me) and some other small bits of fruit - nectarine, maybe. It was pretty good, and came with pieces of mini squashes on the side. My brother reported his salad was good, and my mom's gazpacho was pretty good, with a strong basil flavor which was nice. The lamb shank was served with a port wine reduction/glaze and was huge. It was good, but not as good (in my opinion) as it could've been. It was served with mashed potatoes and carrots, neither of which I sampled. The cheesecake was good, with blueberries on top. The chocolate cake had three layers of chocolate on top, the top-most one of which seemed to actually be gelatin based, like a cross between a chocolate glaze and chocolate jello. The three top layers were excellent; the bottom half of the cake was just a boring, somewhat dry chocolate cake. There was a banana sauce drizzled over it, which was a nice touch, and a square of baked, sweetened phyllo sticking in the cake, also nice.
All in all, the dinner was good, and the dining atmosphere was very pleasant. The room was large and airy with a clean-white decor, and the windows on every side facing the water were a welcome touch. The tables appeared to be laid out to take advantage of the view. The waiters were friendly and joked around slightly, but not in a disrespectful way, and the food came out quickly and our water was refilled quickly. I had a good time, and it was probably the first time... ever... that my brother, my mother, and I had shared a nice meal together without the kids or my father being there, which was also a nice experience. (Of course, I love those guys, but sometimes it's nice to be able to have a quieter, more intimate dinner with just my mom and brother. I don't get a lot of time alone with them.)
After dinner, we walked down to the water for a little while, watched the sun set, and then went home.
The rest of the pics are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ntang/sets/317039/
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The rest, again, are here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ntang/sets/317039/