The other day, I met up with SW (now SWC!) before she left town for business school. We convened at the bar at Todd English's Ca Va, the restaurant in the new Intercontinental Hotel at 44th and 8th. I'd been once before, and I found the atmosphere casual yet civilized... relaxing and inviting.
We sat at the bar and got drinks, of course. For SWC, a glass of prosecco. In a last-minute tweak, I ended up with a glass of Chateau Ste. Michelle riesling. And it was, well, not awesome; especially compared to some of the truly interesting wines I've had over the past couple of months as part of my Wine Century Club quest, it was thin and a little flat flavor-wise. I generally like riesling, so I was a bit disappointed.
To go with our vino, we decided to split the cheese plate, which was a whopping $18. This was a bizarre take on the staple: there were three cheeses, which made sense, but they were portioned in an absolutely outlandish manner. There were maybe three bites of a mild soft-rind number; perhaps two bites of a similar, slightly harder cheese; and about a half pound of blue cheese. Seriously, a big honkin' wedge. I don't particularly like blue cheese, so this was alarming. Three planks of toasted and oiled bread didn't add too much. The stars, surprisingly, were the accompaniments, which ranged from a fig jam to real honeycomb. If only there had been more cheese in general (especially for $18!) and particularly more of the two tasty cheeses and less of the ridiculous blue monstrosity.... but alas, it wasn't to be. I wouldn't recommend this as a bar bite.
But for drinks, even though the wine and cocktails aren't cheap (wines by the glass ranged from about $10-25), I would recommend the bar at Ca Va. Savor a drink slowly to soak up the atmosphere (and don't forget to check out the bathrooms, a floor below the lobby level, which are opulent to the extreme)... and then head next door to Shake Shack for some quality eats.
310 W. 44th Street, at 8th Avenue