Last week, I received an invite to bahr ché on Astor Place, from the wine bar’s PR rep. And since Caitlin and I had planned a glass post-yoga, we walked south in bliss to Gwathmey Siegel’s curvilinear glass structure, stuck tall in the sky in a brick/stone hood. Teetering at the edge of the East Village, but not quite in, the entrance to bahr ché sits hidden behind Chase Bank, just a pip’s throw away from the entrance to the train.
At five when we arrived, we sat along rows of tulips in cylindrical glass vases that lined the back of a red banquette. Quiet inside, and still daylight, we ordered two “carafes”, which are actually quartinos, and a bite. (Wine by the glass is not an option.) There are nine whites on the list, assembled by Fred Dexheimer MS, including Txakolina Xarmant 2009, which showed all green fruit acidity and a little rock. Of the reds, there are ten, including a Zweigelt. And though the rosés hadn’t yet arrived, it is a varied list.
After a day of dealing with water issues, proprietor Camille Glickman sat with us for a chat. “I never originally thought of opening a wine bar…” said Camille, who came to the business from Wall Street, “I first thought of a coffee shop, because I’m a book lover…” Glickman, who confessed to not knowing much of what it takes to produce a bottle’s content, is planning a trip out west, so she can visit her first vineyards. “I want to be able to talk to customers,” she added, “to know what they like.”
With high ceilings and top to bottom panes of glass, bahr ché is on many levels, an extension of the aesthetic that rises above it. There was quite a bit of opposition when Siegel’s structure first came to the hood. Many feared that it would taint the old school feel of the East Village. And while it didn’t jump start the change in demographics, it certainly encouraged its continuance. When I asked about the bar’s clientele, Camille said that bahr ché hosts a number of corporate events, with an eye on a crowd that consists of “young professionals, or slightly older…it’s set up for a mixture of community, Wall Streeters, people from the building, people from 21 Astor…”
Before we left to stroll deeper into the belly of the hood, we ran into a couple of acquaintances, who had also learned of the bar via invite.
[Where: bar ché, 26 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003]