Amelie Wine Bar became my most favourite place for a drink in the whole of New York City.
When we arrived in New York we went straight to our apartment, freshened up and then headed out the door looking for somewhere to have a light meal. With no idea where to go we walked up West 8th Street and within less than a minute came across a very warm and friendly French wine bar, Amelie. It was Bastille Day and through the windows we could see live musicians celebrating with French music and there seemed to be such a lovely vibe in the bar that we felt drawn-in.
Stepping in through the glass door we fell in love with Amelie instantly. We were welcomed by very efficient, friendly and personable staff who greeted us almost as if they were expecting us and despite the venue being filled to capacity, somehow managed to find us two seats at the bar, right next to where the musicians were singing in French.
This was a Monday night at around 9pm and the bar was filled to capacity with well-dressed young couples all enjoying an evening of catching up with friends or loved ones in a relaxed and intimate setting.
After such a long flight our new setting seemed surreal and we couldn’t believe our luck in stumbling, almost by accident, upon such a wonderful, totally-New-York-but-with-a-French-Twist, wine bar that seemed so characteristic of everything I had expected of the New York scene.
We immediately felt relaxed and at-home; there was such a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and we experienced the most, (even when run off their feet), attentive service. The barmen, although incredibly busy, seemed to intuitively know exactly what stage everyone was at with their drinks and almost before you needed to re-order, they were right in front of you.
They’re the kind of barmen who know their product well. They are more than familiar with every wine on the wine list and are happy to pause and assist you with making your choice. And it’s not all about the wine; they can fully inform you on the menu as well as make conversation that is effortless and relaxed.
The wine list is extensive and while being predominantly French, is made up of wines from all over the world including New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina and California. And it’s not just about the wines; Amelie has an extensive cocktail list and Pete, (who was now touring with us), loved how there was Hendricks for his gin and tonics.
Amelie Wine Bar became our ‘local’ while we were in Manhattan. We went there most nights and came to know the staff fairly well. We were greeted and farewelled with European kisses and no matter how busy, every night they managed to find a seat for us. And this wasn’t extra-special treatment; this is how they treat all their ‘guests’.
On our first night, having both flown long distances, we were there to ‘dine’ more than to ‘wine’. We ordered from the menu and shared a few appetisers. I found the appetisers to be very reasonably priced and these could be easily eaten at the bar or at any of the tables. Over a series of evenings we tried most of the appetisers and found the to be simply prepared with uncomplicated flavours. I loved the presentation of the sliced baguettes served in hessian sacks, the flavour of the olives marinated with star anise, the smooth and velvety texture of the chicken liver mousse, and as for the cheese platter; we went with the barman’s recommendations and had some incredible cheeses I’d never before experienced.
We were so busy in New York that try as we might, we only made it to Amelie’s Happy Hour on on occasion. I ordered ‘Flight’ which is where you can try any three wines from the wine list for $10.00. I ordered a Champagne, a chardonnay and a zinfandel and enjoyed them with the star anise marinated olives.
I’ve been back in Sydney almost a week and I haven’t stopped thinking about Amelie and wishing I could walk up the road and take a seat at the bar and order a few French treats. New York has so many tourist attractions but I think it is Amelie that will pull me back to New York more quickly than anything else.
Even Pete said sitting up at the bar with us at Amelie was the highlight of his time in New York!
If you’re fortunate enough to live in New York, take the subway to West 4th Street and walk up to 22 West 8th Street. Amelie is open seven days. If you can’t make it to the East Coast, there’s an Amelie in San Francisco.
Verdict: You will fall in love.
Amelie Wine Bar: 22 West 8th Street, Manhattan, New York 10011
Ph: (212) 533 2962
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