Grape & Grain
620 East 6th Street, between Avenue B & Avenue C, East Village, (212) 420-0002
Getting There: L to First Avenue; 6 to Astor Place; R/N/W to 8th Street
Manhattan’s restaurant life has witnessed a recent resurgence of niche eateries. Versatile wine bars and tapas restaurants have popped up seemingly everywhere. Hidden near Avenue C, the East Village’s “Grape & Grain” combines the charm and tastes of both, with an eclectic food menu, wide-ranging wine list, and an adjacent bar “Against the Grain,” suitable for more casual get-togethers. The coziness of the atmosphere is ideal for dining romantically, but the incredible service encourages patience in savoring the many flavors of the evening.
Speaking of tastes, “Grape & Grain’s” extensive beer selection from around the globe is a fine compliment to the diverse dinner menu and vast list of wines. From Wisconsin to Belgium and all places in between- From Lights to Whites and Pales to Ambers. We like the Bavarian Winter Ale, a dark, German beer, with a froth that will make your toes curl. Now, I may have never been to Germany, but right after my first sip, I swear that I was dressed head to toe in Lederhosen. No joke.
The food at Grape & Grain is as diverse as the drink selections. Served mainly on little plates and all reasonably priced, the stand outs were the salty Beer Sausages, ($12) sautéed in sweet maple syrup and brown sugar, served with Cornihons (Gherkins) and course ground mustard, the German style soft pretzels served with a hard cheese, and the savory Baked Meatballs ($12) in marinara, provided with slices of hearty Italian bread, perfect for soaking up the sopping tomato sauce. The pizza selection is just as outstanding and served in a rectangular shape, cut to serve the size of your party. We like the Tomato and artichoke with fresh arugula ($12), where the pungent pizza is short on cheese, but surely makes up for it in flavor.
The service here was exemplary as the waitstaff allowed large parties to linger and chat at their discretion and the restaurant was busy- this place is not empty, ever- which may be a compliment or a detriment, depending upon the size of your party. However, “Grape & Grain” seems to value the recent emergence of the “Slow Food Movement.” They understand that not everyone is in a rush and that food and drink are to be savored, especially with close friends and family. This admittedly, is a refreshing idea in a city where we are all looking to be instantly gratified.