Vernick -- always sold out?
I notice that Vernick is busy on OpenTable at prime times for a long time in the future. Is it as good as this suggests?
On a similar note, when I call they mention I can always do the bar area but that makes me nervous. Is it also pleasant?
It's pretty great, not quite in my top tier of places in the city but it's really close. The bar is comfy too, you'd be perfectly fine eating dinner there as long as you don't mind sitting at a bar instead of a table. My favorite seat there is the 4-seat kitchen bar, where you can check out the cooking going on.
It's very good. Definitely check out the kitchen counter (Is it only 4 seats? I thought it was 5 or 6, but it's been a while), but I'm not sure how to get a reservation for it. We just were lucky and walked in (we actually showed up a day early for an invitation, so ended up going 2 days in a row!). As noted, much quieter in that room.
Plus Vernick will serve you himself.
Vernick is one of the hot restaurants in the area, is quite small to begin with. In many ways eating at the bar is nicer than eating upstairs as it is a bit quieter downstairs whereas the din upstairs is quite unpleasant IMNSHO when the window is not open ie during cold weather months.
If you are only dining with one other person I would try the bar. I would not do it for a party greater than three.