I’ve been noticing a trend of wine bars lately, and I could not be more happy about it. I had heard about Ardesia opening up in the Hell’s Kitchen area and thought, why not? Wine, small plates, and conveniently located a few blocks from work – I had to try it. So me and fellow food-blogger Lindsay (The Lunch Belle), decided to give it a shot on a rather dreary Tuesday night.
Located on the ground floor of the Archstone Clinton Complex, Ardesia certainly looks like a wine bar; from the huge wall of wines stacked behind the bar to the deep red banquettes and dim lighting, it almost says “come in, sit back and enjoy.” We planned on doing that anyway, but it’s nice to feel it when you walk in. We were greeted warmly and brought to one of the banquettes in the back, and I noticed one downside: this teeny, tiny table. It was smaller than an airplane tray table. Lindsay and I had the same thought: “What are we supposed to do with that?” Clearly they did not know we were coming.
While taking a look at the menu, our friendly waiter came over with some bad news: they were all out of crostini and sopressata. I told him that he’d have to bring a glass of wine to ease my pain, so I ordered a Cote du Sud from France. It was a very nice red – tart, fruity, and very dry – just the way I like it. We noticed on the menu that their Charcuterie meats are all house-made, so we felt we had to try one of the meats and cheeses, opting for the “cocktail sausages” and manchego cheese. Lindsay has a weakness for Mexican cheeses, and I have a weakness for pigs in a blanket. I’m classy like that. We also ordered the homemade pretzels with spicy mustard (which are actually free with any drink order from 5-7 pm – sweet!), the house-cured pastrami sandwich on Sullivan St. Bakery bread, and garlic shrimp skewers.
The homemade pretzels with mustard and cheese fondue came first. Picture-perfect and clearly home-made, but I wasn’t sure if they were going to be fresh or like movie-pretzels (so hard that they could break your teeth). Fortunately, they were crusty on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside; and the spicy mustard was delicious. I normally could care less about mustard, but it had such a kick to it I could actually feel it in my noise if I ate it the wrong way. My eyes teared up a few times, but it was worth it. Happy tears, if you will.
Next came the cocktail sausages and cheese. The manchego came with a little bit of honey and hazelnuts, and the cocktail sausages you can tell were house-made: they looked like they were piped into the casing right before they got to our table. They were small, but so tasty and fresh. I ate one plain, but dipped the other in the spicy mustard. That mustard was just so good..
Then our garlic shrimp skewers came. I smelled these from the moment I sat down, so I knew I had to try them. So buttery, nicely browned and full of garlic, those two little sticks didn’t last very long.
Lastly, our pastrami panini came. House-cured and smoked pastrami with caramelixed onions and apples on Sullivan St. Bakery bread. Um. What else is there to say? It was definitely veyr good, but it was no Katz’s Deli (though I don’t think it’s trying to be). The meat was slightly crispy and smoky, and while it wasn’t my favorite dish of the meal, it was still nothing to sneeze at. And speaking of sneeze, I put more of that mustard on the pastrami sandwich. Fortunately they took away that damn mustard or I might have put it on my dessert.
Ah yes, dessert. How could I forget? There are only two options here (hint hint – expand that!), Ice Cream Sandwich and S’mores. Naturally, we had to try both. The ice cream sandwich comes with your choice of ice cream: vanilla, pistachio and hazelnut. We opted for hazelnut. Vanilla is too boring and pistachio is too risky; hazelnut was the perfect choice. The S’mores were my favorite though. Toasted marshmallow on a cinnamon graham cracker crust with chocolate drizzle…mmmm. I could have eaten 10 of them.
I have to say, their small table idea might not be as bad as I originally thought. We felt like a couple of kids on Christmas. The food just kept on coming one right after the other, and (for the most part) it was perfectly timed. We finished one dish, then that dish was cleared and another one was set down right in front of us. And even after all of that, we left feeling full, satisfied and a little tipsy. Just the way you want to feel on a Tuesday night. Thanks Ardesia, for giving the gift of food.
510 West 52nd St. b/w 10th and 11th Aves