Tonight I met up with a friend for a casual drink at 8th Street Wine Cellar in West Village. Had I not had my brand spankin’ new iPhone in hand, I probably would have given up on my search to find it – the sign outside is miniscule and you actually have to descend stairs to enter the place. After 2 years of walking along 8th street, I never knew that this quaint wine bar existed amidst the NYU-friendly eateries that line the block.
I took a fresh breathe of air when I walked into the restaurant because to my surprise, there were actually seats at the bar available, and I didn’t have to bring out my New York attitude to push past people to put my name on a list. What a great feeling! The description of the place fits the name perfectly – underground, ambient lighting, cool, and plenty of wine in storage. The menu has a great mix of sharable small plates ranging from ahi tuna tartar burgers to a mushroom quesadilla. We decided to share the three bruschette listed: butternut squash with goat cheese, mushroom, and white bean. I wouldn’t say they were the best crostini I’ve had, but they were conveniently sliced and quite a large portion for a measly $10. The butternut squash, with a combo of goat cheese and sweat pear, was definitely the most complex, while the mushroom tasted as if it had sat out on the counter for a few hours too long. The major issue was the bread itself – after spoiling myself on the luxury of Locanda Verde’s thick and hearty charred bread last week, this toast looked and felt like 10 day old croutons.
Our next helping of food definitely lifted the judgement bar a few notches. Our three cheeses came with olive tapenade, roasted pear, and dark and light raisin bread. The pecorino tartufo satisfied my craving for pungent flavor, and the triple creme brie was exactly what I had hoped for when I ordered it. I love eating cheese with raisin and nut bread, so I was thrilled by the combination offered. And get this – we ordered a helping of chopped liver, a suggestion of my fellow Jewish friend. Yep, you heard it, I ordered chopped liver. It was smooth, creamy, and rich, and with a mix of plump raisins, texturally and tastefully unique.
8th Street Wine Cellar is a simple neighborhood spot for a casual drink. The menu is diverse and affordable, and the space best accommodates small groups and one on ones. If you arrive without expectations of being wowed by world class cuisine, you’re bound to leave content to have tried a new place without the so often overplayed New York prestige.
Location: 28 W 8th St between MacDougal St and 5th Ave