Palo Cortado––reviewed in Grub Street New York and New York Press––sates palates with an authentic Spanish meal of four tapas and one order of pinchos. Elegantly plated on square white dishes, Palo Cortado's culinary masterpieces include the boquerones en vinagre, a vibrant congregation of marinated white anchovies, capers, garlic, and parsley ($10) that cha-chas across the tongue while high-fiving the taste buds. Poached shrimp blanketed with green sauce and accented with avo and crispy chorizo comprise the gambas en salsa verde ($9), and the pulpo a la gallega graces gums with a savory share of Spanish octopus clenching onto fingerling potatoes ($13). Meanwhile, the lemon-infused albondigas de cordero sports spiced lamb meatballs surrounded by a moat of mint-cucumber yogurt ($10), great for fueling whispered adorations or plans of building a castle out of meat. Finally, an order of pinchos ensures tapas tidbits safely journey through the tonsils with friends such as the fried chickpeas of the garbanzos fritos dish ($4).
"I feel a little like a detective," reveals Luke Johnson, overseer of the cheese cave at Stinky Bklyn, to the New York Times. He continues, "I…try to steer people toward something new. If they say they don't like goat, I really push the goat because people don't realize there are so many varieties." And push they do. Staff members pass indulgent segments of their carefully aged cheeses, offering approachable wisdom to novices and a wide-ranging selection for aficionados. The charming Smith Street institution has opened a new location between Baltic and Butler, with fridges and pantries stocked with international morsels such as chocolates, oils, vinegars, and beer, as well as an impressive ham bar.
Visitors can request a peak at the temperature- and humidity-controlled cheese cave, where Luke and staff nurture each wheel through distinct aging processes. Cheeses dwell within the cavern for anywhere from a few days to a few years, undergoing washing, soaking in beer or brine, and the opportunity to view culturally enriching cave paintings. Owners Patrick Watson, Michele Pravda, and Chris Remy also added a green garden and patio behind the shop, providing an ideal place for tastings or a peaceful spot for enjoying one of the shop's artisan sandwiches.
At Therapy Wine Bar, upscale bar fare and New World wines create the conditions for nightlife to thrive in the incubating glow of hanging lamps. Servers haul tapas and charcuterie past exposed-brick and lime-green walls en route to the bar, outdoor seating area, or private lounge area, which contains more pillows than an insomniac's trash can. A mishmash of tables and chairs populates the remaining floor space, where visitors can lounge while conversing or playing games of backgammon.
After five years managing a retail store, Ana realized she wanted to sell something else entirely: food. So she enrolled in culinary school, where she first honed the skills she now displays at Simplicity Wine Bar & Cafe. Her tapas range from spicy veggie empanadas served with pineapple-mango aioli to cayenne-spiced chocolate cupcakes. With numerous organic varietals to boot, a frequently updated selection of wine by the glass and bottle complements Ana's cuisine and confections.
When eyes aren't glued to Ana's artfully plated dishes, they're probably busy taking in Simplicity's nightly entertainment. The lineup includes plenty of café staples, such as poetry nights, open mics, and Sunday afternoon concerts by award-winning guitarist Jorge Arévalo Mateus. On weekends, live DJs convert the bar into a dancehall by spinning classic reggae and hip-hop tunes.
Perhaps it’s the slow, bluesy chords flowing from the guitarist in the corner that compel the customer to put down her drink, pick up a stick of chalk, and scrawl a wistful message on the bar. Or perhaps it’s the flicker of candles––their golden halos staving off the city night––that has inspired this misty-eyed inscription. Far from being annoyed at the graffiti now adorning his workspace, the bartender leans over to read the patron’s message, smiling knowingly at the freshly penned late-night bulletin. With a grin and a poured glass of wine, he coaxes a smile from her as she swipes her words from the board.
Such intimate, inviting evenings are a regular occurrence at Sweet Grapes Wine Bar, where a vast collection of vinous libations and snacks keep guests chatting and laughing into the wee hours of the morning. The chalkboard-topped bar affords customers a blank expanse to fill with favorite quotes or high-school locker combinations, while an ever-changing lineup of musicians floods the space with live tunes on a regular basis.
An intimate dining space sets the stage for Kuta's wide variety of flavorsome, Indonesian-influenced fusion cuisine. The prix-fixe menu offers one satay, appetizer, entree, and dessert ($25). Initiate your intake by coupling the Indonesian Madura satay (no extra charge prix fixe, $4.25 solo), featuring sweet soy-swabbed chicken or steak skewers with adornments of peanut sauce and crispy shallots, with the curry puff (add $2.25 on prix fixe, $6.95 solo), a succulent combo of chicken, onion, carrots, potato, and peanut sauce. Entrees such as the spicy Kuta burger ($3.95 extra on prix fixe, $12.95 solo), which combines a 10-ounce sirloin slab with onion brioche, grilled pineapple, and savory garlic fries, embody Kuta's skill for blending Old-World tastes with newishness. Cap off a pleasant evening with the crusted coconut fried ice cream (add $1.25 on prix fixe, $4.95 solo), which features pineapple and raspberry sauce adorning a fried scoop of vanilla.
Oak Wine Bar's vintage experts select a balanced portfolio of wines to complement a seasonal menu packed with local and organic ingredients. Oenophiles savor the finer notes of various flights including the Summer of Riesling's ($19) tribute to its namesake grape or a white blend ($15) perfect for fledgling ghosts donning rented sheets. Harmoniously flavored small plates feature zesty orange-thyme-marinated olives ($5) as well as a twist on a pub classic with pulled-pork sliders dressed with shaved parmesan and cool arugula ($9). Triplicate bruschetta-bar selections such as ricotta and fig jam, truffle mousse pate, or a gorgonzola with candied bacon distract disagreeing taste buds from pushing each other into gnashing teeth.