Where to Wine & Dine: The New York Edition
Post by Chuck Hayward | October 27th, 2011
So you’re in New York, it’s 5pm and the convention just wrapped up. Or you just caught the Mets day game or matinee performance on Broadway and you have time to kill before the flight home tomorrow morning. What lies ahead is what every foodie and wine lover dreams of: one night to fully explore the food and wine culture of New York. What do you do? I addressed this ‘dilemma’ recently when I found myself with a co-worker on his first visit to New York. With a warning to “Hold on!” we embarked on a trip around lower Manhattan to prove what makes NYC such a mecca.
In a situation like this, one must employ a strategy. First, for a good cross-section of what the city can offer, avoid a big dinner and plan on multiple small bites or appetizers. This will allow you to visit more places and get a broader view of what’s out there. Also try to stay in one section of town, cutting down on travel time.
A big night in New York should start with a little bubbly and oysters at Balthazar (80 Spring Street) in Soho. This is a classic interpretation of a Parisian bistro, straight down to the fuzzy mirrors and the raw seafood station in back packed with fresh oysters. Even at 6pm, the energy level is infectious and the wine list even more so. Rather than going deep and listing tons of wine from the top regions, Balthazar takes a broad approach listing two or three top examples from just about every appellation in France, many of which seasoned professionals would not know.
Next catch a cab to Terroir Wine Bar, one of the top wine bars in Manhattan. Make sure you go to the original location (413 E. 12th St. ), the first of now three Terroir locations in NYC. Run by Paul Grieco, who gained international fame for his Summer of Riesling promotion, this showcases the most unique wine list I have ever encountered. It’s as much a political/wine manifesto as it is a wine list fully embracing a punk-rock dada aesthetic that must be seen to be believed. Oh, and there are some good wines as well. While the wines are eclectic by nature, the staff is anything but… and quite helpful in navigating the selection.
By now you’ll need some real food, so walk a half block to Hearth. (403 E. 12th St.) Paul Greico opened this inviting restaurant in 2003 and its take on Italian-influenced cuisine made with local ingredients is just what you’ll need to provide sustenance for the evening. Try their grilled octopus starter or the wild boar papardelle and you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy. The wine list here is more classic while still maintaining Paul’s individualistic view on the world of wine.
Following that filling stop, it’s a good idea to take a beer break at one of the oldest bars in Manhattan, McSorley’s Ale House. (15 E. 7th St.) In this venerable bar, time stands still. Founded in 1854, this is a history museum masquerading as a bar, where you’ll find yourself staring at the walls and discovering knick knacks and objects that have been there for decades. What you order here is “Beer” which gets you two small mugs of their craft ale. And that’s it. No Pabst or trendy Belgian sour beers, just two styles of McSorley’s Ale.
After sampling a bit of France, Germany, Italy and Ireland, jet over to Spain and the intimate confines of Bar Jamon. (125 East 17th St.) Dark and compact, tables jammed closely together, this Mario Batali project exudes energy. Slices of iberico ham or small tapas are perfect foils for the extensive wine list—the most comprehensive view of today’s Spanish wine scene in America. Whether it’s an obscure Anima Negra from the Baleric Islands or a magnum of Vega Sicilia, your passion for Spanish wines will be given a boost after coming here.
When it’s almost time to call it a night, make one last stop at Bar Veloce (175 Second Ave.) for an after dinner cordial. After all the food, beer and wine, it’s just the place for a little digestivo. The dark bar is long and narrow with a drink list that highlights grappas and Italilan amaros, exactly what you’ll need to cap the evening’s adventures and a perfect night in New York.