Swanky but casual hidden cocktail lounge in an old townhouse. No seriously, you might walk right past this place if you really don’t know to climb the front steps of what looks like someone’s home and push in the front door, part the velvet curtain, and peek inside. Not too long ago when with a friend I felt like Scooby Doo and the gang investigating some haunted house that we were not supposed to be entering. So glad we did though as we enjoyed an outstanding evening here! Time for a Scooby snack! Zoinks!
Sure, it’s a bit pretentious as we were greeted by a hostess who asked if we had reservations. She advised us that there were no tables available. Even though the place was empty at this point I decided to play along with the game. In a polite manner and charming smile I explained that we didn’t have any but if there was a way to squeeze us in we would be grateful. She offered us a spot at the bar and we happily took a few seats. Personally, I enjoy being at the bar anyway in a cocktail lounge. You get to watch the mixology, and chat with the bartenders who sometimes offer very interesting stories. You get to take it all in at the bar. As old standards from the 40’s played overhead, and the small flat screen above the bar had on a vintage b/w Spencer Tracy/Katharine Hepburn movie it really set the tone and ambiance for enjoying the two Old Fashioneds we ordered to drink. Yes, this is my kind of spot.
As the night progressed we became a bit hungry. I had noticed some tasty plates of food coming out to those around us. They offer a small menu of eclectic bar bites and some entrees. We ordered a few. Curried Deviled Eggs were delicious, and the Maine Lobster & Jumbo Lump Crab Meat Sliders were awesome! I really wanted to take pictures but put away the camera phone as I did not want to look like a tourist. We just kicked back and enjoyed the moment. Plus, the service was terrific. Our food came out lightning fast, and the bartender took care of us all evening. Switched over to a nifty vodka martini. Dirty, of course. We never felt rushed or pressured to finish up. Perfect night out.
Bar Centrale is one of those speakeasy type joints that is cozy and comfortable. Above a place called Joe Allen. It’s a sexy little enclave. A mix of booths and small tables to sit at. Kind of a retro 40’s appeal and look. Reservations are suggested. Expect speakeasy prices here but pretty much the norm for this type of NYC establishment. If you can’t handle the prices, or door policy, better off hitting one of the cheaper dive bars in Hells Kitchen a few feet away. It’s a terrific spot for a pre or post theater cocktail, bite to eat, maybe even to impress someone, and a hidden gem among the Theater District restaurant row establishments. I’m all about these kinds of bars, just as much as I love a good dive or pub. Just deal with the established protocol of getting a seat if you can and you are in for a nice evening. Also, dress up a bit! Looking like a slob in sweatpants and sneakers will not help any if you are wandering in as a walk up.
Definitely a place to escape the Times Square madness, for a date, or fun night out with a friend or two. Plus, you just might catch a few celebrities or Broadway elites in here. Saw Chris Rock stroll in the other night and not too long ago it seemed half the cast of Mad Men were in here enjoying some cocktails. Boom!
Bar Centrale – http://www.barcentralenyc.com/youfoundus.html