The season looks promising, with several new bars and restaurants in full swing. Probably the biggest news was the late March opening of The Grange, a vegetable restaurant from Garden Grille veteran Jon Dille. Much like its predecessor, The Grange’s plant-based cuisine is intended to appeal beyond the vegan/vegetarian set and attract all diners – even carnivorous ones. The Kyla Coburn-designed restaurant (she’s responsible for Loie Fuller’s, The Avery and several other restaurants that have caused you to comment on how gorgeous they are) occupies the fantastic space on the corner of Broadway and Dean Street that has sadly come and gone in various incarnations over the past few years. But judging by the work they put into it (the new façade is beautiful) and the early buzz, The Grange is here to stay.
Elsewhere on the West Side, enigmatic restaurateur Mike Sears (Lili Marlene’s, Ama’s) has opened Justine’s, his newest cocktail lounge, in Olneyville Square. The speakeasy style bar is squarely aimed at appealing to women (and by extension, of course, men): you enter it through a curtain in the back of a lingerie shop, and the “ladies’ lounge” (read: bathroom) has its own bar inside. There is a well-curated selection of classic cocktails that are shockingly only $5, and some light snacks. There is, of course, no website and I’m not going to tell you the address because Sears is probably already upset just that this is appearing in print. You’ll have to ask around and find it yourself.
After a long delay, Nami is finally open on Federal Hill, serving sushi and other Japanese fare in a handsomely renovated space. Moving Downtown, Bodega Malasaña is the new wine bar from the folks behind Flan y Ajo, the tapas bar around the corner on Westminster Street. They serve unique wines and light snacks. There’s more great news for vegans and vegetarians, too, as Sprout, a new vegetarian food truck has hit the road.
Finally, there was big news from The Dorrance’s, Ben Sukle, who, after racking
up quite a bit of national acclaim for his hyper-local approach to cuisine, is launching his own place (along with wife Heidi), birch, in the space formerly occupied by Tini. Though it won’t be open until summer, the dining scene is already buzzing about it – appropriate for one of the city’s rising star chefs. The restaurant will feature an oft-changing a la carte menu focused on seasonality and local ingredients, as well as a bar program centered around small batch producers.