Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A stop at West 3rd Common for a friendly drink

A few weeks ago, I got an email from the nice people at West 3rd Common, a new Gastropub in the NYU area. They invited me to come check the place out, so last Thursday I brought my friends SL and SE to see what they had to offer.

The place is really comfortable. Pass the bar/lounge area in front to the bigger dining room in back, packed with comfy, squishy red couches and large wooden tables. Perhaps grab a book from the bookcases on the wall to flip through as you sip your drink, or if you're there with a crowd, see if you can nail down one of the classic board games floating around (Jenga, Scrabble, Connect 4...). That'll ensure your night is either crazy fun or a total disaster, depending on how competitive your companions are. Either way, it's a good ice breaker on a date. The music is loud and varied, alternating between Dave Matthews and some pretty tough rap/metal. The service is friendly and laid-back.

But don't forget to get some food and drinks. They have a reasonable drink list, with some specialty cocktails gently priced at $10 each, a handful of beers on tap, a moderate bottle list, and a few wines by the glass. SE went for a beer, I chose a glass of house champagne, and SL chose "The Elderberry," a champagne cocktail with muddled strawberries and St. Germain (with real strawberries! Extra points there).

We also ordered a range of food to battle the booze. Below, our choices, with comments on each:

A cheese plate. I requested no blue cheese, so instead we got cheddar, parmesan, and some softer-type cheese that I don't remember. The soft cheese was unpleasantly funky, but the cheddar and parm with both good, albeit slightly unusual choices for a cheese plate. The candied pecans were addictive, and the booze-soaked golden raisins were a creative touch.


Catfish ceviche. No, I'm not kidding. To put it mildly, this is something I'd never, ever order anywhere, let alone at a bar, but our waitress recommended it, and SL wanted to give it a go. She and SE dug in and really enjoyed it. And the next day, they were still alive. So props to West 3rd Common for making a tasty and non-poisonous catfish ceviche. Who would've thunk it?

Wow. Well, yup.

Duck sliders. These were cute and surprisingly delicate; SL and SE pronounced them tasty.

Tiny tasty trio

Mac & cheese. This was a side, in a tiny ramekin, and though it was appropriately cheesy, it wasn't the best version I've ever had. Good for those desperately seeking carbs to soak up a bit too much alcohol.

Melted slice of cheese on top?

The burger. This came highly recommended, and it drew somewhat mixed reviews. On one level, it tasted homemade, very beefy, almost meatloaf-y. On the other level, it tasted homemade, not like what one would expect from a dining-out burger. Does that make sense? It doesn't entirely to me, but what the hell, I wasn't the one eating it. For the technical notes, the cheese was really well melted, there was some aioli for flavor, and there were some sauteed onions for extra taste and texture. SL wasn't a huge fan of the bun, which seemed a little too "glazed" rather than the traditional white bun. We all, however, raved about the fries, crisp and hot and spiced with pepper. In fact, if there's one thing I'd definitely recommend you get when you come here, it's the fries. Grab a side of them for only $4-- they're the perfect bar snack.

Highlighting the fries here

Cross-section, cooked through

When we left, on a Thursday night around 10:30, we were some of the last people in the place, in stark contrast to the robust crowd I'd encountered when I arrived around 8:30. That was curious to me, since once we got outside, there were crowds of NYU students prowling the streets. Would I recommend that they make West 3rd their destination? Yes, I would, actually. It's a friendly, laid-back place, a comfortable place to be and sip a not-too-pricey drink for a while. I wouldn't necessarily return for a full-blown dinner, but if you're looking for some solid drunk food that's a little more creative and a little bit better executed than it needs to be, it'll fit that bill nicely. And if you just want an old standby, get an order of fries, grab a beer, and settle into the couch. Ahhh, happiness.

West 3rd Common
1 West 3rd Street, between Broadway and Mercer

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