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Oct 2, 2008 03:13 PM

midtown drink ideas (low 50s & 6th)

Looking for a place with decent atmosphere (lively enough but not so loud you can't hear one another) for cocktails with colleagues. Prefer to keep tab in line ($8-10 for a glass of wine). Is this doable in the area?? Thanks for any suggestions.

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  1. Very much doable -- but you should be more specific about the atm. you're going for. You could do anything from Johnny Utah's to Landmarc. Do you need good cocktails and wine, or just passable?

    Russian Vodka Room used to be a big favorite of mine.

    Divine Bar is divey and slightly threadbare, but still great for budget wines by the glass after all these years.

    Rock Center Cafe has daily cocktail and beer specials that aren't too bad (it's not top shelf liquor they're made with, but it's not the very, very bottom, either).

    Some of the steakhouses have happy hours...

    12 Replies
    1. re: cimui

      cimui, thanks for the suggestions.

      We ended up at Seppi's. It was pretty much what I was looking for - respectable enough, lively without the need to shout. They were actually very nice to us. My two colleagues arrived a bit ahead of me. All of the barstools were already occupied, as were most of the tables in the bar area. Since they had diners, I figured they wouldn't seat us at one just for drinks. There was actually a smallish table open, which they said we could take. Service was fine (they basically left us alone) so I definitely left a happy camper and would consider returning again, either for drinks or food.

      Russian Vodka Room looks interesting. I will have to try it some time. Happy hours at a steakhouse is also an appealing idea.

      1. re: uwsgrazer

        ah, sorry i didn't post early enough this time -- but thanks a lot for the seppi's tip! i don't think i've even ever seen this restaurant, though i must've walked by it dozens of times.

        RVR is decorated like the drawing room of a gentleman who has fallen on harder times. it's a little threadbare, but there are still plenty of gilded mirrors, polished wood -- and it's too clean to be really divey. it's comfortable and the small plates of food are also really good.

        re: steakhouse happy hrs, really i only know of three, since i've walked by their signs (but never gone): mccormick & schmick's, michael jordan's steakhouse, and ben benson's (happy hr might just be for food).

      2. re: cimui

        Your patronage and descriptive portrait of RVR drew me in. The place definitely has a lot of character: the gritty ex-Soviet waitresses in tight dresses and Andropov-era hairstyles; weathered old men in the corner booth slurping soup into borscht-colored faces; random Europeans swaying to the pianist in the corner. It is hard to describe the vibe, but your description of a down on his luck gentleman's parlor is quite apt.

        Cosmos were a steal, though I did feel somewhat twee being offered an array of tropical flavors and colors when everyone else seemed to be drinking standard vodka. Martinis were generously poured, though at $14 a piece I would have rather gone someplace brighter and more upbeat for the same. Food looked delicious and interesting; I will have to go back and give it a try.

        1. re: JungMann

          oh, glad to hear you went and found it interesting! it's pretty overrun by the midtown after work crowd these days, but not so long ago, those weathered old men slurping borscht were more the norm. we used to joke that these guys were russian mafioso. (i've been told, since, that this isn't far from the truth. =O)

          some of the best times i've had there have been with russian friends who'd request that the pianist play songs from old russian movies -- which the man miraculously knew and played from memory. all the russians in the bar would sing along, like a russian (and probably mostly straight) version of Marie's Crisis!

          no shame in drinking a cosmo, but do try a carafe of the horseradish infused vodka next time along with some smoked trout (but don't plan on talking to anyone you want to impress with minty fresh breath).

          and do let me know next time you go and i'll try to join you. (i'll be your girl front for ordering your cosmo. ;)

          1. re: cimui

            Do they give you mixers with the carafe or are you expected to just drink it straight?

            1. re: JungMann

              you drink it straight, but it really isn't as hardcore as it sounds. the infusion process takes out some of the alcohol, i think, and certainly, it's no worse than a bourbon on the rocks. if you want to start out gently, get one of the fruity vodkas (raspberry, blueberry, etc...). high-capacity russians toss back shots (and chase with a lot of water). i sip slowly.

            2. re: cimui

              JungMann, thanks for the post. I still haven't made my way to RVR, alas. Are you or cimui (or other Hounds) familiar with Samovar? I believe it is located on the same block as RVR. A Russian colleague suggested it, more for food than necessarily drinking

              1. re: uwsgrazer

                My friend walked into Samovar when we were supposed to meet at RVR. I don't know anything about the quality of the food or drinks, but he did call the place dumpy before he found me across the street.

                1. re: JungMann

                  I went to RVR last year for my bday and it was delightful! The infusions are great. The raspberry is better than the strawberry. The fruit flavors are much sweeter than you would think. I actually got a martini made with lemon vodka and it was fabulous! And the atmospher was unique. I was there on a Saturday night - it was busy and the crowd was very mixed which I really like.

                  You are reminding me to go back again soon!

                2. re: uwsgrazer

                  i've had russian friends recommend the samovar for food, as well -- and frankly, i've hated the entrees every time i've gone (chicken kiev, something called "roman's favorite"). the appetizers are fine. i kind of get a kick out of the fact that they serve veal in aspic. it's not a place i go out of my way for, for the food or atm.

                  speaking of atm., the decor is stuck in a bit of a time warp (1960s maybe?). some might conceivably find it quaint -- but yes, dumpy is another way to describe it.

                  1. re: cimui

                    The Russian Vodka Room infused vodkas are incredible. Try the apricot straight up on ice.

                    1. re: cimui

                      Okay, I'm finally making my way to RVR for some holiday cheer with colleagues. We were thinking of a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. Will the atmosphere be lively around 6:30 p.m. or so, or does it only pick up later? I've definitely noted the flavored vodkas. Anything else we should order, or not, in the way of drinks or food?