Midtown East, a neighborhood that I wouldn’t have lived if not for the proximity to my work, is really a desolate place when it comes to serious food. Most of my restaurant trips are definitely concentrated south of my neighborhood, and I hardly venture to any restaurants here. Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn have far more superior restaurants given those are the areas that tend to attract the younger and more selective crowds. When a trio of women (one a chef, another a sommelier and the other a beer curator) opened a new restaurant near the border between Midtown East and Upper East Side, I debated for a long time whether I should check it out. Per its name, the place seemed more like a bar that serves nice collections of beer and wine than a serious restaurant. Of course, having good collection of wine has been instrumental in enhancing my dining experience, but it wasn’t quite essential. On my recent visit for dinner, however, I found a lot of pleasant surprise at this place in the food department as well.
The menu at Bottle and Bine is New American with some Southern bent, consisting of three categories (two for appetizers and the other for main dishes). While I’ve been to way too many New American restaurants in the city already, there was something about Bottle and Bine that still offered fresh perspectives to cooking. While local tuna with nori mustard and mushrooms was somewhat pedestrian (I thought the texture of the fish was a bit too mushy), I absolutely enjoyed shellfish and stems, a combination of sea scallop, squid and citrus sabayon. The sea scallop was expertly cooked, and the combination with the vegetables worked beautifully together to create very nice balance of flavor and texture.
For the main dishes, my dining companion and I tried beet dumplings and braised pork, of which I thought the latter was slightly more successful, as the pork had nice texture and worked quite well with black radish. My only issue was that the shell wrapping the pork, which was supposed to consist of Carolina rice and uni, didn’t taste like either of the ingredients. Beet dumplings were solid too, with silky smooth texture and accompanied by caramelized cabbage puree and roasted beets. For dessert, panna cotta with tarragon and 7-grain crumble was a winner, with delicate flavor without being overly sweet. I can tell the kitchen put together ambitious but not overly fussy dishes that won’t wow you with strong, decadent flavor but still leave you satisfied at the end of your meal.
Getting a reservation was easy, and even though I came to visit this place on a Monday evening, I was still surprised that the dining space, located on the second floor (the bar area is on the first floor), was almost empty. Compared to the quality at other places in the vicinity, I thought this place was one of the better ones so perhaps it’s just a Monday factor or they haven’t done enough to generate publicity? As the name of the restaurant suggests, you should try at least a glass or two of wine or beer. I’m not a beer person so I can’t honestly say what their beer selection is like, but a couple of wine glasses that I had were pleasant and worked well with the dishes that I had tried. It is nice to find a gem like Bottle and Bine in my neighborhood, which is hard to come by, and I’m looking forward to seeing how their kitchen evolves over time.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
Address: 1085 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10022
Telephone: (212) 888-7405