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Jul 31, 2011 09:07 PM

Lounge/Bar bites midtown and below.

Hi I need to entertain a few different groups of friends coming for the summer over the next few weeks. One group consists of old college buddys- male, 30s, some meat and potatoes guys but also a few adventurous foodies..
The next are two girls visiting from Europe (already requesting aperitivo, etc.)
Last is a mixed group of diverse tastes also mostly foodies.

Everyone in these 3 groups appreciates a well-made cocktail and/or craft beer.
What are your favorite spots (preferably midtown and below- anywhere west, east, and south really) for small plates, great beers, good wine by the glass, and a loungy (no sports bars, loud tunes) vibe?

Focus would be on great, delicious, small plates.


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  1. Blue Ribbon Downing Street Wine bar - depending on size of group as it is quite small.

    Blue Ribbon Downing Street Bar
    34 Downing St, New York, NY 10014

    1. I don't think you're going to find a serious beer bar with a lounge-y type environment (banquettes, cushy seats, couches). Many of the good ones are set up to be more like a gastropub or beer garden environment.

      A few thoughts:
      - Anfora for aperitivo. Don't miss their Negroni Sbagliato. I think aperitivo night is only Mondays, though. It's going to be hard to find a place with great cocktails and a big spread of free food.
      - The bar at Eleven Madison Park. Excellent housemade potato chips, high quality olives, and honey peanuts are offered at the bar. Very civilized atmosphere. There is also a selection of appetizers, entrees, and desserts that are all selections from the regular dining menu, but sized differently, and available a la carte. I imagine you could share a few of the appetizers if you wanted to. The bar menu is not online but I took a photo of it a few weeks ago:
      - Bar Room at the Modern. Great atmosphere -- gorgeous, modern, room, and a bit loud/lively. Good small plate selection from the regular menu and IIRC is also a bar snacks menu. Good cocktails and wine. Beer list looks OK, too.
      - The Monday Room. Very quiet, intimate wine bar. Food is by the chef from Public, the adjoining restaurant. "Hidden" behind the host stand at Public. A more eclectic menu and wine selection.
      - If you are really going to do it up and don't mind going up to 59th (technically still Midtown I guess) -- the lounge at Per Se.
      Example menu (from 2009):

      Per Se
      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

      Eleven Madison Park
      11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

      The Modern
      9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

      210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

      The Monday Room
      210 Elizabeth Street, New York, NY 10012

      34 8th Ave, New York, NY 10014

      2 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Wow thanks both of you for the insight!

        1. re: Agordo

          One more -- for good small plates and excellent cocktails, try Pegu Club (pretty big & typically easy to get into before 9pm) or Death & Co (harder to get into -- no standing allowed).

          Pegu Club
          77 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

          Death & Co.
          433 E 6th St, New York, NY 10009

      2. I'll second The Monday Room.
        Mayahuel, from the team behind Death & Co - all tequila & mezcal cocktails, solid Mexican bites.
        PDT, great cocktails, and you can get "Haute Dogs" by some great NYCchefs (Chang, Dufresne, etc) - but make a rez.
        Speaking of Dufresne, the bar at WD-50 has world-class cocktails, and you can always order a few plates to share.
        Vandaag has one of the best-curated beer lists in the city, the cocktails are top notch, and the food is great.

        Please Don't Tell
        113 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009

        304 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003

        103 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003

        1. Depending on how far south you wish to go, here are two additional suggestions: LES (Suffolk & Houston) L'oubli, (very funny if you catch the scene at 0400 hrs); bartender/owner/head chef will give you real insights to his offerings; real LES option esp if your guests are younger. Also, the Vintry on Stone Street in the FiDi; Great small plates and wine. Some beers, but more wine and spirits. Stone Street is a good dest for your post college friends--many choices (about 10 rests on one pedestrian street) to fit all tastes and budgets. Outdoor seating for each rest. Please give us a report on what you do with your diverse guests--it helps us all.

          Vintry Wine & Whiskey
          57 Stone St, New York, NY 10004

          188 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002