Saturday, June 7, 2008

A leisurely drink at Winebar wine bar

Last night I met my friend S for drinks at Winebar in the East Village. Notwithstanding its somewhat less-than-creative name, I've wanted to go here for a while. Because it was a warm evening, Winebar had its front open to Second Avenue and a sizeable sidewalk seating area.

Sip wine while watching the 2nd Avenue traffic whip by

I got to Winebar a few moments in advance of my friend, so I snagged two seats inside. The interior is configured as a set of three long tables on either side of the room, sticking into the center with an aisle in between. Each table has six backless stools (N.B.: backless stools are NOT COMFORTABLE. Whoever invented them was a bad person.). The tables are semi-communal, so you sit with other groups of people, but it still doesn't feel like a really social place. Winebar isn't so much a pick-up joint as a place to meet a friend. Which is what we were doing, so we were good to go.

So many possibilities in there...

We studied the menu by the dim light of the candles. The menu is divided by country: France, Italy, or Spain, and then by type of wine. There are maps next to each country's page to show where the wine comes from. Very cool.

Organized by "Grape, producer, region."

I ordered a Chenin Blanc from France. It was lightly sweet and really tasty, served at the perfect temperature. At $8/glass, it was the cheapest glass on the menu, but it still was delightful. I savored it over the course of the evening. Also worth noting: as befitting a wine bar, Winebar has really good glassware, and the type of glass changes with the type of wine you order, as it should. Extra points!

Beautiful color in a beautiful glass

S ordered a glass of red (don't remember what kind...), and it also came in a lovely glass. She seemed content with her choice.

A gorgeous ruby red

There was a small and somewhat pricey menu of food, which we skipped. About halfway through the hour-and-a-half that we were there, though, I asked if they had a bread basket or something of the sort-- basically, I just wanted something to munch with the wine, as I've found drinking wine without eating anything is not a good thing to do. This request elicited an inordinate amount of befuddlement, frankly; they didn't have a bread basket, and we could order crostini... but I didn't want crostini with a bunch of dips, I just wanted some plain bread, so I just said forget it. The waiter said he'd see what they could do.

Focaccia. Filled with gold flakes and caviar. (Not really)

He returned with a plate of focaccia cubes. They were seasoned and redolent of olive oil, and they were pretty good. I actually ate the entire plate of them... addictive little bites that they were. And when the bill came, I was somewhat glad that I HAD polished them off-- they charged me $4 for this plate of bread. Even though, as S pointed out, that's significantly less than anything else on the menu, that's still pretty bush league. If you're a wine bar, you should serve SOMETHING complimentary for customers to eat while drinking (nuts? olives? uh, bread?). Otherwise you're just encouraging bad situations.

So my recommendation: Winebar is a cool place to grab a glass of wine with a friend. It's a bit on the expensive side, and I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to return; there are a lot of other wine bars in the city that I'd like to try first. But if you do go, bring a snack with you. Yummy as the focaccia was, it wasn't worth $4.

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