Just under the corner of 78th and Columbus sits 78 Below, a gathering place where patrons can have a drink, listen to tunes, or share small plates with friends. Primarily a live music venue, 78’s stage area entices musicians with a legendary back line that includes such house equipment as a Yamaha Motif synthesizer that belonged to jazz icon Henry Butler and a full Pearl drumset used by Chris Parker when he played for Bob Dylan. Performances occur nightly, and feature regulars such as former Blues Brothers band member Jonny Rosch as well as surprise singers that have included Amy Grant, Sheryl Crow, and gifted janitors after the staff has gone home.
Outside of the stage area sits a cocktail lounge furnished with mod couches where guests order from a succinct menu of American-style tapas. Alongside beer, wine, and cocktails from the bar, sliders made with crab cakes and Angus-beef patties mingle with grilled four-cheese sandwiches in dishes small enough to keep hands free for unsolicited keyboard solos.
Brasserie Julien’s chefs pamper palates with gourmet French specialties, sea delicacies, and expertly crafted signature drinks in a romantic setting. New York magazine writes that “it’s impossible to dine at this Upper East side brasserie and not think of Paris.” Upscale small plates whet appetites and facilitate the enjoyment of French aperitifs, with selections such as 24 plain oysters or shells stuffed with misplaced pirate-chest keys. Endive salads, quiche lorraine, or an assortment of soups sate cravings for light fare, and steak, fondue, or filet mignon quell ampler appetites. During wine tours, accomplished sommelier Mollie Battenhouse regales guests with about 10 samples of varietals from around the globe, as well as portions of the eatery’s brasserie fare.
Inside Brasserie Julien’s romantic and relaxed dining room, art-deco-inspired pendant lights illuminate the space's elegant columns, flowing curtains, and trumpet-playing silverware to create an authentic brasserie-style experience.
Weekend dance parties fill the twin floors at Columbus 72, soundtracked by live swing and Latin bands or DJs spinning Top 40 dance hits. Piloted by a premium-liquor-packing waitstaff, the pillar-peppered Columbus ballroom accompanies a private-lounge sidecar boasting cocktail tables, an LCD screen, and optional helmet laws. Right off the expansive boogie zone nestles a brood of plush red and black VIP booths, which seat six to eight and may be enhanced with bottle service. Meanwhile, the Broadway Bar serves a separate dance floor in a more intimate setting with its own DJ and sound system on Friday and Saturday nights. The club's strict dress code demands casual, neat wear such as collared shirts and dress sneakers, with black-tie attire required for carousing team mascots.
Aza's chefs concoct a menu of traditional Spanish tapas dishes alongside an array of other small plates, brunch, and desserts. Patrons dine Spanish-style on classics such as mussels in a white wine sauce ($8.25) or the paella valenciana, a bed of saffron rice nestled with fresh seafood, Spanish sausage, and chicken ($8.95). Spanish wines ($8) complement charcuterie platters ($15 each) as gracefully as a bandit’s ammo belt complements his grenade bracelet. Desserts such as chocolate mousse and crema catalana ($6 each) end meals on a sweet note, while eggy brunch options provide savory morning fare ($6+). After guests have exhausted their sharing skills, they can lean back in one of Aza's red high-backed chairs and enjoy the exposed brick walls’ bashful vermilion hue.
Intimo's menu whisks diners to the Italian countryside with a variety of authentic house-made entrees. More than 300 bottles of distinct wines hibernate in the 58-degree walk-in wine cellar. Director Frank Pecora fosters a relaxed, sophisticated atmosphere with dim lighting and sleek, dark wooden accents. Candles flicker atop tables draped in white linens, casting shadow-puppet adaptations of Godzilla vs. Fork and Knife on the exposed-brick walls.
You may stop and wonder where you are when you see the red ropes outside Vudu, an ex-Soho lounge that has reemerged in unlikely Upper East Side digs by nightclub icon Michael Bergos. Beyond the bouncers, red carpet, velvet ropes, and the larger life like metallic doors is a rare Uptown find.