In a climate where craft beer and craft cocktails have a stranglehold on the adult beverage market, wine bars can seem like a relic or, at the very least, a nostalgic vestige of a bygone era. So while tight-panted beardos deliberate over summer saisons and bow-tied mustachios sip their Boulevardiers, the ascoted gent in a Savile Row suit broods over a glass of viognier while scoffing at those quaffy trends.
OK, that scene might've been painted with slightly exaggerated brushstrokes, but fact is, wine bars and those who frequent wine bars aren't the least bit shaken by the onslaught of breweries or cocktail lounges and their "craft" labels. In fact, wine bars have quietly proliferated across the city – you may have even noticed "& wine bar" being tacked onto the names of many a restaurant of a sudden. But the differentiators between a random "& wine bar" and a true wine bar aren't just the variety of wines on offer (falling through rabbit holes of discovery should be a given at any wine bar), but other related factors: the quality of food pairings, for example; or the ability of staff to provide knowledgeable guidance; or the appearance and character of the place.
The Parkview, while not as sprawling a space as the Wine Room or as popular a draw as Luma, has an unpretentiously comfortable air that its Park Avenue neighbors don't. By day, we've sat on the sofas next to the windows and enjoyed sipping more than a few of the nearly 60 wines offered by the glass in boisterous fashion. At night, the dim lighting sets a more serious tone in which to enjoy selections beyond the tried and true salumi-and-cheese plates.
There's bone marrow ($13), for example, and there's a lot of that creamy fatness in the two canoe cuts dotted with mustard seeds and served with bread, roasted garlic, red pepper and sea salt on a cutting board (of course). A glass of Line 39 ($9) cab franc couldn't make a better pairing.
Then there's braised beet carpaccio ($11). While I much prefer thick cuts of the root veg, the red and golden discs thinly cut and dolled up with watermelon radish, grape slices and pistachio crumbles, then dolloped with goat cheese and raspberry coulis, lent an impressionist flair to the dish.
Resisting short rib Wellington ($23) is all but futile. It's one of the more eye-catching items offered by chef A.J. Haines, and the pastry wrapped around meat braised for three days is flawless. Undercooked broccolini was the sole miss on a plate spiffed with butter-braised mushrooms, caramelized onions and roasted fingerling potatoes.
If there was an utter flub in our review visit, it was the crostini ($11) draped in dry duck confit, and soaked in a heavy underlayer of balsamic-fig reduction.
Chocolate truffles ($8 for three) are an entirely apropos end-of-meal offering for a wine bar, even if the presentation – three truffles huddled in the corner of a long rectangular plate with five dots of raspberry coulis (in decreasing order of size) on the other side – made us laugh. If you need something with more heft, the three-layer chocolate trifle ($9) fashioned by Annie's Euro American Bakery in Longwood is a delectably safe choice.
The intriguing selection of bottles surrounding the restaurant's tables will undoubtedly draw notice, especially the reasonable markup, from those wanting to purchase a bottle or two to take home, or to enjoy at one of the outside tables while gawking at passersby, as many are wont to do.
The Parkview, after all, is a wine bar very much in keeping with Park Avenue's terroir.