Monday, September 24, 2012

Orient Express West Village Cocktail Bar is a food & drink escape

This is one sweet West Village must-visit cocktail bar. 
You know the kind of cafes and restaurants that exist on Paris’ Left Bank?
Or in the imagination or fantasy where you dream of a place like this?  

It is a romantic, dimly lit, bar and restaurant -- rich with design elements that suggest decades of patrons, draped around their chair or bar stool (or each other) telling intimate stories and canoodling all the while sipping exotic cocktails.

The décor is designed to suggest being inside an old dining car on the Orient Express. Hence the name. 

While I didn’t really catch the train vibe while sampling "le cocktails" and appetizers there on a recent poetic, autumn-in-New York kinda’ evening, I was reminded of that quintessential cozy, sexy corner restaurant from the cinema or that dream sequence.
So que’elle chance!

It’s too bad that the name suggests an Asian restaurant when this intimate cocktail bar is so not that. 
This is where you go for a romantic date. 
Or a transporting food and drink adventure.
We need and love cocktail-focused environments. 

Seriously, no one makes these drinks at home.  
Put down the beer bottle and the white wine glass and get out and enjoy the world of American-led cocktails.
Where do you think Cocktail Hour came from?

I am a proud member of the NYC Food Bloggers and our last meet –up was Orient Express.
Is it any wonder why Katy, our food goddess of all things food blogging would have chosen this venue?

The Orient Express has a wonderful food provenance. 
Osman Cakir, owner of next-door Turks and Frogs, also claims “a story for every item on the menu.” 

So take that, Eleven Madison xx concept pioneers – you have been usurped!

However, the food narratives at Orient Express are fun. Unpretentious.
They don’t get in the way of the food.

For example, the “Nagelmakers, which is a blend of port, dark rum and rye served with orange and angostura bitters in an absinthe rinsed cocktail glass is their ode to the man who financed the Orient Express.”
Or how about this one: “The Zaharoff is tequila, lime and honey topped with house-made grapefruit soda and floated Campari refers to a writer and banker on the Orient Express whose stingy history on the Express earned him the nickname ‘Mr. 10%.’”

So while it’s no news that writers didn’t have much money for tips then – or now – all the stories are intriguing and interesting to hear.
…Helps break the ice, so to speak, while one works up the verve for their own stories, wouldn’t you say?

The Danube cocktail, is most refreshing and recommended.
It is made with Ketel 1 vodka, lime juice, mint and cucumber soda. 

I was always warned against absinthe so didn’t try the “Death on the Orient Express.”
If one is feeling adventurous, go for it.
It embraces absinthe, Becherovka, and Presecco. 

Better was the floral “From Russia with Love:” a cocktail confection blending vodka, ginger, lime, and rosewater rinse.

The food is very good.  Small plates abound.  The cheese plate is sourced from Murray’s
Featuring Feta, Mahon, Caprossado, Manchego and Gruyere.  
And the Charcuterie Plate is laced with languishing Bayonne Ham (not from the Garden State’s Bayonne, rather from France!), duck mousse, country pate, pastirma, and saucisson sec.  
The hummus was good but uninspired. 

Savory entrée dishes are served in skillets, according to the restaurant, with many dishes inspired by Eastern European cuisines. 
Turkish coffee and dessert is a-can’t-go-wrong finish.

The restaurant is modest in price. The focus is on the atmosphere-as-ingredient and the cocktails and small dishes.

Enjoy a food adventure on the Orient Express and come back satiated and rewarded. 

The Orient Express is located at 325 West 11th Street, New York, NY, 10014


  1. amazing review! I too loved the Danube cocktail.


  2. Great minds drink same libations! ha. Cheers!