A smart-casual den of wine from Le Bernardin’s notable wine director. With its upscale charm and reasonably priced food and drink offerings, Aldo Sohm Wine Bar is exactly what we needed in Midtown.
Any visitor or resident of New York City has at one point or another faced the following dilemma: You have tickets for a show in the Theater District around 7:30 or 8. Do you eat an early dinner before, around 5:30 at the latest, even though you finished brunch at 2 and aren’t all that hungry? Or do you wait until the show is over, and eat at 10 PM like a 20-something night owl?
There may be no good answer to this quandary, but Aldo Sohm Wine Bar may put you as close as possible to a solution. Tucked away off an office plaza on 51st Street, just down the block from Le Bernardin where Aldo Sohm serves as master sommelier, lies a bright, almost playful space perfect for sipping wine with friends and family on those shorter evenings.
Indeed, with a large, plush, U-shaped communal couch anchoring the room, the space is noticeably unfussy. Colorful pieces of art and wine-related accessories lining the walls give the wine bar the more casual feel of the living room of a young, sophisticated friend, and the prices on the menu match. Wines by the glass can range from $12 to upwards of $30 for truly unique vintages, but rotating flights (recently showcasing Gruner Vetliner or Malbec varietals) for $19 or $20 can be an enticing way to discover many of Aldo Sohm’s expertly curated wines.
French-informed small plates are served at both lunch at dinner, though larger plates like salads and sandwiches are also available during lunch hours. Snacks like the Grilled Foie Gras "Lollipop," a buttery bite resting on toast, while not as mindblowingly revelatory as certain courses at Le Bernardin, are nonetheless perfect and fun dishes for this kind of dinner.
Because the wine bar is still a member of the Le Bernardin family, the quality of the ingredients is never sacrificed. The Burrata and Mozzarella served with a pile of grilled bread drizzled with olive oil is some of the richest and creamiest found, while the Short Rib Skewer is almost unbelievably tender, resting on a potato puree and red wine reduction, and topped with delicately fried shallots.
This degree of freshness is especially noticeable in the House-Made "Tuna in a Can" Tartine, a delightfully bright and fishy spread on toast covered in leafy greens, tomatoes, and green olives. It fits the experience of a wine bar, but it is all upgraded to elegant, Midtown standards.
The staff is quiet, refined, but entirely unpretentious, offering knowledgable insights into both the wine list and menu of small plates with ease. Blurring these lines between restaurant and bar, Aldo Sohm Wine Bar is precisely the adventure we want on those cultured Saturday evenings before we catch a show, and with its many successes, it guarantees it will become a place to which we will always want to return.