Rugby fans stumble into Nelson Blue at odd hours, their internal clocks aligned with the schedule of their beloved All Blacks. Though the city of Nelson is literally a world away from Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, these fans find a taste of home in chef Eric Lind’s New Zealand-inspired lamb skewers and soft-shell crab sandwiches.
Paying homage to the financial offices nearby, a giant white bull statue guards the dining room, where traders and other diners slip into red booths. Here, they share boards of imported and domestic artisanal cheese, which precede steak frites or Bailey Burgers with applewood-smoked bacon.
Dorian Gray, a literary-themed gastro pub bedecked with mahogany and distressed bricks, permits patrons to cozy up to beer and Irish-influenced fare. With one hand toting a pint of Dorian Gray Amber ($5) and the other a glass of Vinvita pinot grigio ($7), guests can use their mouth to graze on Irish cheddar mini burgers ($6) or signature, french-fried curry chips with four in the mornin’ sauce ($6). New Zealand lamb chops share a diner's attention with peas and mash ($14), and the doughy cradle of shepherd's pie bears beef, onions, carrots, and peas ($11).
A barrow boy pushes his cart past horse-drawn carriages, police on horseback, and a lady on a stroll, parasol in hand. This historical scene, appropriately tinted in sepia, hangs above diners at Pound & Pence, where it's one of two 10-foot murals that depict lively streets and pubs in 19th Century England. Pound & Pence's proprietors can't recreate the days of Dickens on all New York's streets, but they do conjure an old-timey vibe inside their establishment. A billiards table and leather wingback chairs stand among dark stained wood adorned with vintage English memorabilia.
The across-the-pond homage continues behind a bar stocked with English gins, an extensive scotch and cognac collection, and fixings for cocktails such as London Fog: a blend of gin, elderflower liquor, and lime juice. Pound & Pence's menu honors both English and American cuisine with selections ranging from bangers and housemade mash to spicy chicken fingers. During meals, up to 300 diners can chat with their neighbors or take in a game on one of the pub's more contemporary touches: a 10-foot HD projector screen.
Outfitted to resemble a one-room schoolhouse, with beer lists on blackboards and wooden pegs for hanging coats, Nolita House provides an education in simple, affordable, seasonal dining. Learn how far a crispy panko crust can elevate classic mac 'n' cheese ($12 for the large plate or $8 for the small) or study the intersection of the delicious and the porcine with babyback ribs ($9). Forge a guardian's signature and take your tongue on an international field trip with Nolita's shrimp tacos ($16) or miso-saki-glazed cod ($18). Small varietal wines from boutique vineyards pair nicely with an olive plate ($3), arguments over roller-derby statistics, or cheeses, especially at Nolita's Wine and Cheese Happy Hours, held every night between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. ($12 for two cheeses and a glass of wine).
The rear of Tribeca Tap House's bar looks like it's survived since colonial times, with thick planks of aged wood sunk into the brick wall. The bar itself stands in contrast, sporting a clean, modern design that includes tap handles mounted on polished metal. It's a fitting image for a restaurant that sticks to the basics of a neighborhood watering hole—namely cold drafts and hot food—and then elevates them with a heavy selection of craft beers and New American gastropub dishes.
The all-day menu tempts patrons with specialties such as crispy shrimp ‘n’ chips and the Tap House burger, a ground-in-house blend of sirloin, chuck, and brisket. The chefs' sandwiching skills continue to shine in more complex assemblages as well, such as the short-rib grilled cheese, which enfolds wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, and chipotle gouda on texas toast. And no pub meal is complete without a fried appetizer, of which Tribeca Tap House has many, including cornmeal-crusted pickle chips—frickles—accompanied by ranch sauce. Bartenders pour more than 20 draft beers at any time, keeping guests cool and calm as they watch sports games on one of many flat-screen televisions. The surrounding decor is heavy on rustic wood and brick, although works from local artists interject the handsome earth tones with pops of color.