So many New York natives and visitors pass cursorily through the Cooper Square hub of Manhattan’s central village, perhaps only stopping to notice the landmark Astor Square Cube or double-check the direction in which they’re headed on their way to somewhere else. In this transitional neighborhood where several avenues intersect, it’s easy to miss the upscale yet cozy contemporary wine bar, Bahr Che, tucked away behind the Chase Bank Building on the ground floor of the Gwathmey Siegel-designed condominiums. While you may need a map and a handful of breadcrumbs to find the place, discovery is worth the effort.
(This and All Future Photos by Anne Raso)
Open since December of 2010, Bar Che’s interior – its walls covered in both blonde and dark woods – conforms to the signature curve of the high-profile glass apartment tower in which it resides, and the structurally-enforced design gives Bar Che an even more intimate and romantic feel. The impressive wine wall – which buttresses the shallow bar – displays 1500 bottles of the select wines from all over the world. Wines are available by the bottle or single-serving carafe (basically a ‘full pour’ in contrast to the multiple-serving vessel that you might expect when seeing the word “carafe” on the menu). The tasting menu – which is secondary to the wine selections, because this is a wine bar, after all – is designed around small plates / tapas portions emphasizing sliced cured meats (Charcuterie), cheeses and light fare that marry well to either an oakey Malbec or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Bar Che’s servers are highly knowledgeable when it comes to wine pairings, so if your knowledge of the grape extends only to basic Reds and Whites, Bar Che offers an excellent opportunity to educate your palate.
Here are a few of the plates we sampled:
Warm Goat Cheese Salad with oven-dried tomato and field greens with walnut dressing ($9.00), comes with two toasts topped with goat cheese: good for sharing!
Seasonal Quiche Du Jour ($10.00), was a delicious vegetable selection filled with tender broccoli and roasted red pepper on the day of our visit. Served with bit of field greens salad on the side and also portioned to share.
Lobster and Black Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese ($16.00) is one of the heartier choices on the menu. We especially enjoyed the big chunks of lobster tucked around tendrils of macaroni in a mild cheese sauce that called for just a hint of extra seasoning (a few sprinkles of salt did the trick) to bring out the much desired black truffle essence.
The thinly sliced Warm Japanese Eggplant, which sits delicately on a pastry round, topped with roasted tomato and drizzled with lavender honey dressing ($9.00) is a standout among the small plates, but perhaps a bit pricey for what is only a few bites. My dining companion and I each had our own serving and we enjoyed it tremendously.
For Dessert, we indulged in the Pear Almond Torte, comprised of toasted, sliced almonds layered with poached pears and Bavarian cream, and the Chocolate Gianduja Torte: a bittersweet chocolate butter cake layered with cream and topped with crushed pralines (each priced at $9.00), both of which were exquisitely decadent. The quality and deliciousness of these desserts (sourced from a popular local bakery) prompts me to suggest that you might want to consider Bar Che as your post-dining, nightcap and dessert destination!
A daily selection of Francois Payard Gourmet Sandwiches ($10.00, ask your server for the day’s offerings), Half a dozen Charcuterie Selections (prices vary), Pate, Mousses & Foie Gras ($10.00 each) and limited, light weekend Brunch Menu round out the savory menu choices.
Update: Bar ache has now closed for business.
Bahr Che is located on the ground floor of the Gwathmey Siegel Condos at 26 Astor Place, but please note that the actual entrance is around the corner from Astor Place on Cooper Square, between Lafayette St and Third Avenue.