Hidden away on the border of Morningside Heights and West Harlem is a docked military ship called the Baylander IX-514. The location is slightly out of the way from the typical spots to visit, but once you are there, it all comes together, and you can see why this unusual restaurant is worth the trip.
The Baylander is a military ship that saw action during the Vietnam War and then converted to a helicopter landing trainer. After changing hands a few times, it was converted to the Baylander Steel Beach restaurant last year. This restaurant is a destination as it is surrounded by unobstructed views of the river to the north and south, including the Manhattan skyline. They named it after a steel beach, a navy term for a social event or party thrown for the sailors. The sailors barbecued and dived off the ship for a swim. If you can’t escape to a traditional summer location, you need to come here.
Michael Trenk and his staff make you feel at home. While we were there, Michael was observing every table and tweaking and changing things on the fly. But most importantly, most of the time, he could be found right at the entrance to the restaurant, greeting every single customer on the way in and out. Michael wants to make sure he is part of the community, and he wants to make sure the community knows that he cares. His passion, caring, and attention flawlessly coordinates these three elements of food, location, and uniqueness.
I can go down the line of food, and the food was certainly quite good. We enjoyed The Anchor, which was a giant pretzel that had a crispy and buttery exterior. The Firecracker Flash Fried Calamari was perfectly cooked and had just the right amount of heat for all to enjoy. The West Harlem Lobster Roll was one of the best I’ve had, and I’ve had many. The tacos were delicious as well as the Smokin’ Fries. The frozen and traditional drinks added to the beach vibe. My husband enjoyed the frozen Blue Skyy Lemonade. I thoroughly enjoyed the Steel Beach Margarita, or as they call it, “That Patron Drink,” which was served in a miniature Patron bottle. The Baylander Steel Beach makes a fantastic Margarita!
Yes, the food is excellent and incredible, but what makes the Baylander Steel Restaurant unique is the fact that it is such a hidden gem in plain sight. Once you discover it, you will be coming back and bringing friends or family for a great meal, delicious cocktails, a fantastic view, and a stellar sunset.