August was a surprisingly busy month—and since I was away for a couple of weeks I was particularly grateful to WestView readers for their observations. There were two major cocktail bar openings, a couple of restaurants, and the first shop to open in one of the properties that Brookfield purchased on Bleecker Street.
Chelsea Market and Gansevoort Market Update
At Chelsea Market, Dizengoff opened to great fanfare in May 2016. Many agreed that it featured the best hummus in the city. For a while there were excellent and unusual multi-course Thursday night dinners. But somehow, it never gained the popularity of the Philadelphia original, and with Miznon, another pita-based Israeli restaurant opening a few storefronts away, traffic decreased further. Perhaps, for these reasons, Dizengoff will be closing at the end of August. Downstairs at “The Chelsea Local,” Zach & Zoë Sweet Bee Farm, a honey purveyor, joins the line-up. Also downstairs, Manhattan Fruit Exchange has set up a stand with a woman preparing “fresh-cut Mexican style mangoes” for $4. Over at Gansevoort Market, John’s Juice has closed, but Karaoke Gansevoort is now open in the basement Thursday through Saturday, and on those nights Trece Taqueria and Gansevoort Steakhouse are open until 3 AM.
Katana Kitten (531 Hudson Street near Charles Street). A Japanese-themed bar has opened in the space vacated by Swine a few months ago. The décor is meant to transport patrons to Tokyo. The bar is on two levels, with an upstairs space that sports cat-themed items on the walls, and a downstairs which reminded me of a school or camp lunchroom. The drinks sound exotic and exciting, but were a bit disappointing: the Shiso Gin and Tonic was merely a gin and tonic with a large shiso leaf stuck in the glass. We ordered the Hinoki Martini, and our waiter explained that the owner/bartender had cut off a branch of a Hinoki Cypress tree to make the essence used in the drink. We expected a strong evergreen presence, but it was barely discernable. There is a small food menu of izakaya-inspired dishes, including the ubiquitous deviled eggs, which, in this case, were just hard-boiled eggs covered in miso and salmon roe.
Existing Conditions (35 West 8th Street between 6th Avenue and MacDougal Street).
I was very sad when Booker & Dax, the bar in the back of Momofuku Ssam Bar closed. The drinks there were truly different and spectacular (think red hot pokers, among other things). Now, Dave Arnold from Booker & Dax as well as Don Lee from PDT, another of my favorite bars, have opened Existing Conditions on 8th Street in the space that used to house Whiskey Social. When I first went there I did not know about the bar’s pedigree, but I immediately suspected something was up when I saw Banana Justino on the menu (a drink made with rum and bananas that have been blended with enzymes and spun in a centrifuge, resulting in a liquid clear banana essence.) The process is described in the book Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold (which won the 2015 James Beard Award for Best Beverage Book). I have the book, but these things are complicated to make, so your best bet is to go to Existing Conditions, where you can try Banana Justino as well as a number of other delicious and unusual cocktails (the carbonated offerings are made with a custom-made carbonation system). There is a small menu of bar food, but you can make a dinner of it with the well-prepared sandwiches like the Turkey Club or Steak Sandwich.
Oak Tuscan Truffle Lounge (28 Greenwich Avenue between West 10th and Charles Streets). A truffle-themed restaurant has opened in the tiny space that was Virgola, an oyster and wine bar. All the salads and main courses are topped with 10 grams of freshly-shaved truffles, while the other dishes have different truffle manifestations (truffle salt, truffle honey, truffle sauce, etc.). Steve Cuozzo, food critic at the New York Post, greatly enjoyed his meal there, but warned that the current prices reflect the use of summer truffles, and in the fall, when the winter truffles arrive, the prices will rise accordingly.
Many were sad when Good closed (including Mimi Sheraton who was a regular there). Now, in the space it occupied comes Nightingale (89 Greenwich Avenue between Jane and 12th streets). Like Good, the menu features some comfort food but the dishes are fancier, something that will not please everyone. For example, there are two versions of Mac ‘n Cheese, one with Pork Belly and Porcini, and the other with Snow Crab and Green Pea. While my daughter is a big fan of Mac ‘n Cheese, I can’t imagine she’d order either. There is a burger with foie gras, and to mollify vegetarians, “Impossible Meatballs” served on a gluten-free bun. The early Yelp reviews have been very positive. The Great Eros (66 Greenwich Avenue near 7th Avenue South), a lingerie store that also sells fancy leisure wear, has opened where Tabwa Gallery used to be. The original location is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The lingerie is designed by the owners who are a couple, and according to the website, they were determined to “create a space that felt warm, airy, sensual with a yin and yang balance of masculine and feminine energies.” The Brooklyn store also carries a line of sensual objects including some unusual-looking Japanese vibrators. I did not see these in the Greenwich Avenue store, but even if I had I might not have realized what they were. Also on Greenwich Avenue, Umami Sushi has opened in the old Lumpia Shack Snackbar space (50 Greenwich Avenue between Charles and Perry Streets) with a standard menu of rolls and nigiri sushi and sashimi, and a section of Kushi Yaki (skewers). Llamita (80 Carmine Street near 7th Avenue South) is a small fast casual spot from the owners of Llama Inn in Brooklyn. I am always on a hunt for the perfect rotisserie chicken, so I rushed over to try theirs and it was very ordinary. Perhaps I should have stuck with the sandwiches, which have been popular with critics, such as the pork shoulder, duck sausage and ribeye. There are some more unusual offerings like beef heart skewers, and the smoothies, some made with Peruvian fruits, are in demand. As we and others reported earlier, Brookfield Properties acquired seven storefronts on Bleecker Street, and now, their first tenant, Margaux, has opened at 387 Bleecker Street (between Perry and West 11th Streets). Margaux is an online women’s shoe retailer that started two years ago, and this is their first New York location. An observant reader noticed that the space that was previously Andrade Shoe Repair, and after that a candy shop, has re-opened as a Mexican restaurant called The Little Taco House (246 West 4th Street between 10th and Charles Streets). The restaurant boasts that their cooks have a combined total of 70 years cooking Mexican food in New York City.
I was surprised to see signage up for Shake Shack at the corner of Varick and Clarkson (225 Varick Street) in the old Clarkson restaurant space. A sign in the window reads: “Innovation KITCHEN Coming in September @shakeshack.” Doing some further research, I learned that this will not only be the West Village’s first Shake Shack, but that the company is leasing three floors and will move its corporate headquarters there from Union Square, and will also have a test kitchen on-site (not open to the public). The owners of recently-opened Llamita plan to open Llama San in the old Tertulia space at 359 6th Avenue (between Waverly Place and Washington Place). According to their presentation to the SLA Licensing subcommittee of Community Board 2, it will be a Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant and izakaya. There is more news on the replacement for now-closed The Village Den (225 West 12th Street at Greenwich Avenue): it has been widely reported that Antoni Porowski, who appears on the show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, will open a fast-casual restaurant in the space. He has been quoted as saying it will feature “wholesome comfort food.” A sign in the window of former Nourish Kitchen + Table promises the imminent arrival of a Colombian restaurant serving arepas, empanadas, juices and single-origin coffee. We reported that Mas Farmhouse (39 Downing Street between Bedford and Varick Streets) had recently closed, and now we hear that in its place will come a Korean fusion restaurant called Wind Rose. The same owners filled out an application for a liquor license with Community Board 3’s SLA licensing subcommittee in February for a Latin-inspired restaurant called Saluté at 214 East Ninth Street (between Second Avenue and Third Avenues).
I never fully got over the closing of Jon Vie bakery at 492 6th Avenue (between 12th and 13th Streets), so I always somewhat resented Ultimate Jeans when they opened in that space. Over a year ago, we reported that Ultimate Jeans was closing, but in the end they did not. This time, however, it looks like they are really gone. Gandhi Café (283 Bleecker Street east of 7th Avenue South), an Anglo-Indian restaurant that had been around since 1999, appears to have closed. On the stretch of Bleecker west of 7th Avenue South, three stores have closed: Orla Kiely (372 Bleecker Street, between Charles and Perry Streets), the U.S. flagship for an Irish designer, Orogold (333 Bleecker Street between Christopher and West 10th Streets), a branch of a cosmetics company that incorporates gold in their products and across the street, Satya Jewelry (330 Bleecker Street). Another small jewelry store, Shaya (453A 6th Avenue near 11th Street) has closed and will be replaced with a 24-hour locksmith. Aedes Perfumery (7 Greenwich Avenue at Christopher Street), which had been in the West Village for three years, relocated to the Lower East Side. Benedict’s Brunch Bar (516 Hudson Street, near West 10th Street) had a short run: after less than a year in operation, the all-day brunch spot has closed.
Hudson & Charles Dinette (522 Hudson Street between Charles and West 10th Streets) signed a 10-year lease for a portion of the space that had been part of The Quarter. With a planned opening in the early fall, the restaurant will serve dishes incorporating products from Hudson & Charles, the butcher shop next door which advertises “Local • Sustainable • 100% Grass-Fed Meats.”
We are so grateful to you for all your intel on openings and closings. Please keep sending them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Darielle Smolian