Friday, October 10, 2008

Bunch of Winos

On a quiet Friday evening a few weeks ago, Marissa and I, after deeming the wait at 'ino to be too long, wandered around the corner to Downing Street and happened upon what looked to be a tiny wine bar.  We didn't immediately see a sign or a menu, so were standing outside uncertainly when a friendly host came outside to invite us in.  Turns out the establishment is the Blue Ribbon Downing Street Bar, the newest addition to the Blue Ribbon mini-empire.

As one would expect from the Bromberg brothers, the food is good (our dish of the night was the simple but totally delicious manchego and honey), the vibe is warm and relaxed, and the wines are thoughtfully chosen.  And what sets this bar apart from the other excellent places like it in the city ('ino, 'inoteca, Bar Jamon, etc.) is that you actually can get a seat in a reasonable amount of time.  About 80% of the crowd seems to be waiting for a table across the street at Blue Ribbon Bakery, which means that the turnover is quicker than normal.

I made a repeat visit recently with Zenia, again on a Friday night, and had the same lovely experience.  No wait for a seat, and although I wasn't the hugest fan of the oysters they were serving, the chicken wings (a dish I generally avoid like the plague) were a pleasant surprise, as was the Hummingbird cocktail.  And this second time around I also noticed that the bar offers trios of wines, a feature that I fully intend to take advantage of on my next visit.

Now I am apparently a bit late to the party on this one, as Time Out New York readers already deemed this the best wine bar back in April, but hell, it's still good!

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