Your day at the Manhattan “office” has ended. Good friends, tasty drinks and great food await you at Ivy Bar and Grill located at 944 8th Avenue, the corner of 56th Street. On a weather permitting day the open windows reveal some seated customers with a bar behind them.
Enter to view this long bar that takes up most of its length. Along with seating at the bar there are tables and chairs across along the wall. The tables are tall with short back bar stools…a problem for me. I’m short (can’t easily get up on the stool) and a bit disabled.
Take two steps up at the back area where there are normal size tables and chairs that are pretty much set do “dine”. I needed to wait for a table here, which wasn’t a bad thing as I chatted with Mike, one of the bartenders, about vodka. As one who gets drunk on Scotch Tape…I learned never to sip vodka. Shoot it. That is why I never order a martini. Mike talked about a Russian vodka made from potatoes. It was called Chopin and sang to me. He chilled it, we clinked the shot glasses each having a shot. It was the smoothest vodka I’ve had. No “burning” down the back of the throat. He showed me one from Texas that was gluten free. I did taste a bit of it. Less smooth and did burn.
Mike Gilligan, one of the owning partners, came over to greet me.
It was taking time to set up a table in the back as the area was pretty much full. I turned down a drink. Deveka, my friend who accompanied me, did not. She ordered an apple martini.
Table ready, we went to the back. Flashback! I’ve been at this place before. I'll wait until I get home to check my blog. Oh well. The menu boasts appetizers, small plates, burgers, salads and some entrees as well. It’s great to have someone with you to “share”. More items to taste.
Victoria, our waitperson, gave me both recommendations as well as being open about what she did not care for. Here goes!! Beet Chips. Red, yellow and candy cane. Sweet and lots of flavor. I didn’t even need to dip them in the dipping sauce of olive oil, yogurt and chives. THE CHALLENGE! Could I delve into Brussel sprouts, one of my least favorite veggies? They were fried and served with sautéed onions, aged cheddar cheese, and Applewood smoked bacon. Certainly tasted great, but not the healthiest way to eat them.
Layered Shrimp and Avocado was served in a canning jar. Tiger Shrimp, over chopped lettuce, topped with slices of avocado, green goddess dressing, tomato vinaigrette. The only way to eat it was to dump it on the underlining plate.
Lobster Tacos. It was a choice between the tacos and the lobster spring rolls. I took Victoria’s advice and went for the tacos with fresh Maine Lobster meat, grilled corn, tomatoes, and basil cream on 3 soft flour tortillas. Did I tell you that I also ordered a double shot of Chopin and drank half at a time? I needed to have two of the tacos. Even with the alcohol, I was totally able to savor all of the flavors of the food.
Steakhouse Spring Rolls. I didn’t take Victoria’s advice. She just didn’t think I would love them as much as the other food. She was right. The rolls had sliced steak, mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. It didn’t taste terrible and Deveka agreed.
There was more. Sliders. 3 mini sliders with cole slaw. Victoria recommended the pulled pork. BBQ sauce and spicy house made pickles. Would you like fries with that?
Always have to save a bit of room for dessert. Ahhh…but they are not made on premises. Funny but that restaurant that was here did not make their own desserts either. De ja vous? Kitchen and bathroom in the same places as well.
Victoria: “Would you like another drink? Never mind. I think you had enough.” We opted for a watermelon salad with baby arugula and feta cheese. It did the trick and good for the digestive system.
Here’s the review in a nutshell. Music at a level enough for people to converse. Not bar food but "Gastropub". Bar area can be noisy due to conversation. Very friendly staff and atmosphere. Late night dinners, signature cocktail of the week created by Bartender Courtney, Happy Hour with a live DJ (I hate when a place hires corpses) on Thursday and Friday evenings. Make reservations if you’re short. www.ivybarnyc.com