Earlier this week I went to a new wine bar, called Vanguard. It opened in December and it’s located in Kips Bay at 530 2nd Ave. It’s set just below the sidewalk, and as you walk down the short steps into the bar, it feels like you’re walking into a different era.
The white subway tiles that are on the outside of the building make a prominent appearance inside as well and give the place a Euro feel. It’s decorated with eclectic antique pieces and posters and they happened to be playing one of my favorite movies on the tv behind the bar – Midnight in Paris. Seriously. It’s like they knew I was going to show up that day.
The wine list was arranged by the style of wine and each selection had brief tasting notes. For example, some style categories of white wines were “Crisp & Refreshing” and “Luscious & Fragrant” and “Elegant & Sublte” and “Zesty & Savory” for the reds. Many of the wines were from France and the US and I understand that their menu changes often to keep things fresh. Glasses were $10 to $14 and bottles were $30 to $90. I had the 2011 Mercer Estates Riesling from Washington. It had a very complex aroma of tropical fruits and a touch of honey. One of the notes for this wine was “beeswax”, which I can’t say I entirely detected, even after repeatedly sniffing my Burt’s Bees lip balm and comparing, but I guess it’s creative! It tasted similar on the palate and was surprisingly full bodied, which was offset by its dryness. It was a very tasty wine.
Much of the seating was around the sleek granite bar, but there were also marble high top tables and little alcoves of seating near the windows. With the last of the day’s sun streaming through the wooden blinds, music from the 1920s playing, and a nice glass of wine in my hand, I was transported. Everything about Vanguard is downright charming.
The service was wonderful and the bartender was happily chatting up everyone at the bar. This is a rare kind of place where I wouldn’t feel bad about spending too much money drinking glass after bottle glass of wine. It’s very laid back, extremely friendly, and they offer some great wines. I fell a little bit in love with Vanguard and they’re off to a good start in becoming one of the top notch wine bars in the city. I give this place a rating of 4.8 out of 5 glasses. I will certainly be back!
The Parisian bar area, and not just because of the movie :)
My wine in one of the bar's custom glasses