Outdoor Dining Rooms Old and New

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Reed Travel Features

NEW YORK -- With the advent of spring and the season's first blossoms comes the rebirth of dining outdoors in the lovely gardens of restaurants throughout the city.

A sampling of notable outdoor venues follows:

* The Boathouse Cafe, located in Central Park on Central Park Lake at 73rd Street, offers American cuisine and a picturesque view of the lake and its surrounding gardens and trees.

New this spring are mini-herbal gardens that the chefs will utilize for recipes and herb oils.

For reservations, call (212) 517-2233.

* Also in the park is Tavern on the Green, at 67th Street and Central Park West.

The landmark restaurant features outdoor seating encircled by the blooming floral plants and trees of its own garden.

New this year are $17 lunch and dinner entrees prepared on a hardwood grill and a 40-foot outdoor bar made of wood recycled from the city's parks.

Call (212) 873-3200 for information on group reservations.

* At the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx, the Garden Cafe and Terrace Room debuts April 1.

Designed to take advantage of the garden's beautiful grounds, the restaurant will seat 200 patrons indoors and outdoors on terraces overlooking the gardens, which feature thousands of tulips in the spring.

A ballroom, accommodating up to 350 people, was created for formal dinners.

Both venues serve American cuisine.

For group reservations at the cafe, call (718) 817-8577; call (718) 220-0300 for group bookings at the ballroom.

* During the off-season for ice skating, the Rockefeller Center Skating Rink is transformed into a summer garden restaurant.

The Sea Grill restaurant, located on 49th Street, expands onto the ice rink at the end of May, offering outdoor seating for 50 diners.

In addition to seafood, the Sea Grill serves chicken and steak.

Groups are accommodated.

Call (212) 332-7610 for more information.

For clients interested in some neighborhood favorites, the following are among this editor's choice flora-enhanced eateries:

* The Cloister Cafe, located in the East Village on Ninth Street, is adorned with original stained-glass windows and features a lush garden with outdoor seating in the late spring.

American and international dishes are served.

The homemade red-berry pie served warm with fresh cream is a personal weakness.

For further details, call (212) 777-9128.

* Home, a quaint health-conscious restaurant on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village, offers patrons a year-round private garden, seating 28 people.

Organic foods are used to create the "American-neighborhood" cuisine.

Roasted herbal chicken and cumin-crusted pork chops highlight the menu; creeping hydrangea and geraniums accent the garden.

In the colder months, awnings with heaters keep diners warm.

For information on group bookings, call (212) 243-9579.

* Located on Fourth Street and Third Avenue, the Bowery Bar's garden shelters the bold and the beautiful from the harsh realities of the downtown neighborhood.

Opening with the dawn of seasonal weather, the foliage-enwreathed garden seats up to 200 guests.

Affectionately known as the "B Bar" within the music and fashion industries, the restaurant is noted for its trendy American food and international clientele.

For reservations and information, call (212) 475-2220.

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