This is that increasing rarity in restaurants. It's the kind of value proposition that comes only when folks with experience and know-how combine it with a personal stake in the neighborhood to create a true gem. Did Fabrice Warin, who brings a front of the house pedigree that stems from Le Cercle Rouge to François Payard have to open a wine bar in central Harlem? No, but it helps that he lives a few doors down.
'wine bar' on Serious Eats
Reserve bills itself as the city's only Thai wine bar. More than 15 wines are served by the glass, all meant to "compliment or challenge" the Thai flavors. While some of the dishes might be familiar from your regular go-to place, overall Reserve doesn't want to be your standard Thai takeout joint.
Cynics will say there's no romance in midtown, unless you count the relationship between people and money, but Le Bateau Ivre proves them wrong.
In an industrial corner of the far edge of Crown Heights, where the drinks are cheap and the food is fast, one wine bar has dared to go the opposite direction. Promising "slow wine, scratch food," Thirstbaravin stands as a French-style wine bar in a neighborhood mostly occupied by repair shops and auto-parts stores.
Terroir opened just a few years ago, but it already seems like one of the elder statesmen of the East Village restaurant scene. The space is small and comfortable and the staff is friendly and welcoming. The tables and utensils are communal, and the focus is on small plates to go with the extensive wine and beer menu. If you go before 6 PM, you can take advantage of Happy Hour specials on the drinks, most notably a free glass of sherry (I'd recommend the Oloroso) to go along with the food. Oh, did I mention the food? It's excellent, and there are plenty of vegetarian options.
I tend to drink beer on its own, but wine with food, which is why wine bars appeal to me so much—that particular blend of restaurant and bar that encourages sampling from small plates. I stopped by Park Slope's Brookvin to sample their vegetarian wares.
With its polished concrete floor and high ceilings, it can be loud, especially if you're not a fan of, say, early White Stripes or Fleet Foxes, but it is undeniably lovely. If we lived in Astoria, we'd be regulars. DiWine is best for: a date in which you want to loosen your inhibitions over plates of satisfying finger foods.
Packed into the back end of Casa Mono is sister establishment Bar Jamon, the teeny-tiny wine bar serving cold tapas and wine to the dozen or so customers that can fit inside. I snagged two of the last seats just after 6 p.m.; by 6:30 the wine bar was packed to the gills with drinkers.
Tucked into a sleepy corner of Carroll Gardens is the storefront of Crave, a former restaurant-turned-catering company that reopened late last year as a wine bar. The intimate bar has carved out a niche as the neighborhood's perfect pre- or post-dinner spot, offering affordable snacks and wines from 6 p.m. until late.