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La Marina

I don’t often write about restaurants in my own neighborhood, as very few would interest my readers: if you don’t live nearby, you wouldn’t go.

La Marina, at the Dyckman Street pier, is the rare Washington Heights/Inwood restaurant that gets mainstream media attention. Mayor Bloomberg attended the opening ribbon-cutting ceremony. Beyonce and Jay-Z were spotted there in September, and earlier in the summer, Leonardo DiCaprio. I don’t know if those visits were “procured” or genuine.

The Dyckman Street marina was once a place where the wealthy kept their yachts, back when Washington Heights was considered “out of town.” The area lost its luster long ago. Parking is free, but if you walk from the subway, you face several distressed blocks that have seen better days, to put it nicely.

It took took the owners five years to develop this new hotspot, which occupies 75,000 square feet and supposedly seats 500, although a server said they had thousands on some summer evenings. Next year, they’ll add a marina with 22 slips, but there’s already a restaurant, two bars, a lounge, an open pavilion, and a small beach. There are spectacular views of the George Washington Bridge and the Pallisades.

The photo above (from the website) is what the dining room looks like, though by the time we visited in early October, the outdoor dining season was over. The windows were closed, and there was a live band at the back of the room.

The named chef, Pierre Landet, is also the executive chef at Cercle Rouge, a decent French brasserie in Tribeca. His abilities seem largely wasted here, where the short, bland menu is phoned in: steak, salmon, a burger, a caesar salad. That’s not much more to it.

Service glitches abound. Though reservation times on OpenTable were wide open on a Saturday evening, we waited 30 minutes for our table. We ordered a dozen oysters to start; they never came. Want to speak to a server? Even waving one’s arms vigorously in the cavernous room is not sufficient to attract attention.

There’s not much to the wine list. What there is of it, is over-priced and not very good. Most guests here drink cocktails.


Steak Frites (above left) and grilled salmon (above right) were acceptable specimens for a neighborhood spot. But there’s nothing else here I want to try, nor would I care to endure the lackadaisical service.

La Marina (348 Dyckman Street at the Hudson River, Washington Heights)

Food: A minimal, phoned-in menu
Service: Not diligent; lackadaisical
Ambiance: Beach club meets nightclub, with great river views

Rating: Not recommended
Why? The food is clearly an afterthought here

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