The Crow's Nest at the Water Club?
Wouldn't the Merchants River House view be mainly of NJ? Does it have to be outdoors? What if it rains?
For the best views you need to go out of Manhattan. Try the River Cafe in Brooklyn, who will be reopening very soon, after post-Sandy renovations.
I ate at the patio at Riverpark (very close to the Water Club) recently and while the food was excellent, the actual view itself facing East-ish isn't all that impressive.
Maybe Water's Edge in LIC?
Gigino at Wagner Park near Battery Park City offers a view of Lady Liberty and the New York Harbor. Some posters on here like it, I haven't been.
Also consider Robert, the restaurant inside the MAD near Columbus Circle.
Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, the view is out over the Hudson but it's pretty spectacular. I think I'll probably stick with the Crow's Nest –– I should have mentioned this in the original post, but some of the usual suspects with a view (River Cafe, Water's Edge) are out of the price range. Riverpark's bar menu is more like it, but I haven't been crazy about the food. Thanks again.