Look on the bright side of the economy: jeans, sneakers and bargain-priced bar menus at some of the city’s best restaurants. That’s why we’ll be featuring a brand new Bar Bite every week.
Allen & Delancey
115 Allen St., btwn. Delancey St. & Rivington St.
Allen & Delancey doesn’t do Happy Hour, but it does do Happy Night every Tuesday- that means half-priced cocktails and a brand new bar menu. Each cocktail comes two ways- easy breezy and strong. Take the Atlantic Ruin: the light version is made with tea-infused white rum, batavia arrack, lemon and maple. The strong Atlantic Ruin’s made with aged rum, batavia arrack, demerara, angostura bitters, roast cocoa bean tincture and an orange twist. Chef Kyle Bailey’s dressed a few dining room dishes down for the occassion- panko-battered sweetbread poppers with buttermilk dressing and fish & chips with a bacon-cornichon remoulade. Our favorite is the Lower East Side sliders made with ingredients sourced within a three-block radius. The result is Katz’s salami, Saxelby’s cheddar cheese, and Guss’ pickles mini-burgers, and they’re excellent.
43 E. 20th St., btwn. Broadway & Park Ave. S.
Everyone’s conceding to the recession, even pricey restaurants for oenophiles. You’d be wise to take advantage of this at Veritas, known for its large wine by the glass collection. You can also sample the new France-meets-Spain bar menu conceived by chef Gregory Pugin. Dishes include pimientos del piquillo stuffed with brandade and sauce basquaise, and a charcuterie plate with chorizo, lomo, salchichón and jamón with pain tomate and bell pepper royale. Entrées range from sautéed frogs’ legs with spelt “risotto” and parsley sauce to beef cheeks with celery root purée and sauce daube.
13-15 W. 54th St., btwn. Fifth Ave. & Sixth Ave.
From the street, Atria shouts expensive midtown restaurant. There’s no denying the grandeur of the dining room itself, but the lounge is a sexy, inexpensive alternative and a good date spot. Order one of their updated nostalgic cocktails, like a Sloe Gin Fizz, made with both sloe gin and regular gin, fresh lemon juice and of course, fizz or Johnson’s Orange Soda, with blood orange, yuzu, Hayman’s Old Tom gin, Moscato d’Asti and bitters. Chef Martin Brock’s bar menu features a Bavarian cheese spread, served with shallots and pretzels as well as a hanger steak wrap with sweet chili and fingerling potato chips.
281 Lafayette St., btwn. Jersey St. & Prince St.
When you think of Keith McNally, most think Balthazar, Pastis, even Morandi. But before those spots, he conceived a subterranean vodka and caviar lounge named Pravda. They’ve just launched a “Russian Experience” menu. There’s a Zakouski platter with crispy potato pancakes, Scottish smoked salmon, roasted eggplant dip, scrambled eggs, and spinach and cheese pirozhki. If that sounds like a lot, bring a drinking buddy. Until 8pm Sundays through Tuesdays, Pravda will buy you a drink if you buy your friend one. Try the Leninade- Pravda’s house-infused citrus vodka, lemon juice and fresh mint or the Bohemian- vodka, passion fruit puree and wildberry juice.
6 Bond St., btwn. Broadway & Lafayette St.
If you can’t get a table upstairs at this Noho restaurant, head to the lounge downstairs, which some prefer for its no reservation policy and bustling atmosphere. Start with the Asian Pear cocktail- a mix of Maker’s Mark, pear nectar and sparkling pear cider, or the Ginger Dragon- 15 year aged Pyrat rum with fresh apple, lemon and ginger juice. The lounge menu featuressushi, sashimi, nigiri, tempura as well as hot and cold appetizers. We love the sesame-spackled shrimp rolls, lobster tempura and chocolate fondue.
142 W. 10th St., btwn. Waverly Pl. & Greenwich Ave.
Bar Blanc has officially morphed into Bar Blanc Bistro. The bar-cum-bistro’s got a new menu with small plates all under $10. There are ham and fontina croquettes with smoked paprika aioli and macaroni and cheese with applewood smoked bacon or black truffles. If you want to spend a little more, try the $15 burger with cheddar, pickles and a bone marrow bordelaise mayo and fries with a trio of housemade dipping sauces- Indian curry spice, chipotle mayo and honey mustard. The new bistro also has beer on tap.
10 Columbus Circle, at W. 60th St.
Who can swing, or even stomach, a $275 tasting menu now? That’s why Thomas Keller unveiled an a la carte salon menu, which changes nightly. Spotted in the lounge over the past two weeks: Fava bean “tortellini” with globe artichokes, garlic chips, wilted dandelion greens as well as “macaroni and cheese”- a mascarpone-enriched orzo with butter poached Nova Scotia lobster, parmesan crisp, and lobster broth. Oh, and mignardises and service are both included in the cost of dishes.
79 MacDougal St., btwn. Bleecker St. & W. Houston St.
Smith’s cocktail and beer list is short and sweet and so is the bar menu from new chef Doug Psaltis. The New York Blue Point beer goes well the fried burrata or bacon cheeseburger made with brioche, blue cheese, and an onion ring garnish. The Saint 79- Junipero gin, St. Germaine and prosecco- and the Smith’s Bulleit- Bulleit bourbon, maple and lemon- are good accompaniments to the sweet shrimp scampi.
BLT Fish Shack
21 West 17th St., btwn. Fifth Ave. & Sixth Ave.
Chef Laurent Tourondel’s seafood outpost offers a new $9 bar menu with a tuna tartine with tapenade and quail eggs, red snapper fish tacos, and pork and shrimp sliders with spicy mayo. There are also $14 wine carafes and housemade garlic bread.