I’ve been hooked on spending time with my cohorts at NYC Food Bloggers ever since our first meetup, so naturally I was disappointed when I couldn’t make the gathering at Orient Express Cocktail Bar last month. Lucky for me, the folks at this fine establishment invited me down to check their place out last week; I was more than happy to oblige. (*Please visit the restaurant website for better photos.)
For me, the thing Orient Express nails is the ambiance — I was transported to a different world the minute I stepped off the quiet West Village street and into the bar. The small, dimly lit interior was a bit intimidating when my lovely dining companion Aly and I first arrived at the quite, early end of the dinner hour, but as the place began to fill, I felt as if I were settled into a comfy booth in a high-end, exotic dining car (read: Orient Express), or, as Aly noted, a café scene from the movie Midnight in Paris. All I needed was a pair of white, elbow length gloves, a cigarette or two, and Ernest Hemingway sitting right next to me.
The cocktails were equally mood-setting. We knew they’d be good when it took the vested bartender a solid five minutes to pour, shake and stir them. The Balkans II was our first victim — an intriguing combination of gin, quince, Pimm’s, and a few other
undisclosed forgotten ingredients. I’ve never been to the Balkans, but if it’s as mesmerizing as this cocktail was, then I say take me away!
We hopped back on the Orient Express and headed over to the Soviet Union for our next cocktail, From Russia With Love. I thought Russia was a cold place, but this vodka, ginger, lime and rosewater concoction sure had me angsting for scorching hot summer day. I was fine with that.
The craft cocktails are without a doubt what shine at Orient Express, but the snack-y food menu had a few pleasant surprises, too. We ordered The Pickled Plate and the Brie Panini with Ginger-Pumpkin Chutney. 1. I officially love pickled veggies after this experience. Beets, carrots, cucumbers…dish me up! 2. Ginger-pumkin chutney saved this sandwich’s crusty ends and impressed me with a its full-bodied seasonal kick.
And then we ordered the Chocolate Crown Cake for dessert, and let me tell you — it transported me directly to a sugary cloud of cocoa bliss. The cake was perfect on its own, but the cherry sauce and white chocolate curls that adorned it had me swooning. (I’m sad you missed this unique moment, too.)
I’m so happy the folks at Orient Express invited me down to take this culinary journey. It’s a perfect spot to head for a cozy but classy date night, a craft cocktail, or a God-sent slice of Chocolate Crown Cake. All aboard the Orient Express! (Did I take that just a little too far?)
What’s your favorite cocktail?