How many wine bars are in NYC? I honestly don’t know, and wouldn’t even venture to guess. But if you ask how many wine bars there are in the city that also have good food options, the number may not be as large as you think. Wine bars do not typically need to focus on food; if people start drinking wine, they will want to eat something no matter how light (or poorly prepared) they are. Obviously, various prosciutto and cheese plates are the go-to options, but how many other places offer something beyond that is actually good? I’ve heard great things about Ruffian as not only a solid wine bar but also worth a detour for the food as well. On a recent Tuesday evening, I set up a date with my girlfriend for a casual night at this cozy wine bar. Turns out the experience at Ruffian exceeded my expectations.
Ruffian is focused on Southern French cuisine, which means lighter fare with Mediterranean accent. What impressed me the most about the food at Ruffian is the element of soulfulness to the dishes. Nothing will wow you with dazzling flavor or texture, but it’s also unlikely you’ll have bad dishes. I’ve been trying to expose myself more to beet dishes since I came to the city, and the one at Ruffian accompanied by crème fraiche and caviar was quite delicious, combining different ingredients for pretty unique flavor. Roasted carrots with braised Swiss chard also had rustic touch that I was quite a fan of, with some sprinklings of honey comb that served as an icing on the cake. Twig wheel cheese came with plum-red wine jam and nut & fruit bar (instead of a boring piece of bread), and I enjoyed the smooth texture of the cheese that worked quite well with the bar. For main dish, we shared pan-roasted salmon with sunflower seed risotto, corn and squash. The salmon was cooked very well, and the combination of ingredients below the fish worked quite beautifully together. I haven’t really been to the countryside of southern France before, but I can definitely see this dish as something you would normally expect while visiting someone’s home or café in Provence.
Ruffian doesn’t take reservations but we had no problem getting seated at the narrow wine bar counter showing up around 7:30 p.m. I’m sure the place is more likely to be packed on the weekends, so an early visit seems like a good idea during those times. I’ve talked about the food at Ruffian in detail above, but after all this is a wine bar, and the selection at Ruffian (focusing on southern France but also containing unique bottles all across the world) reflects plenty of careful introspection on what makes wine so great in this civilization. I definitely liked the casual vibe of the space that is perhaps ideal for a first- or second-time date. It is not always an easy task to find a wine bar that actually puts together good food options, but I would definitely say Ruffian belongs to that rare category.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
Address: 125 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10009
Telephone: (212) 777-0855