restaurants
Vintage Irving
118 East 15th Street
212 677 6300

The timing is right for Michael Sinensky and chef Jason Bunin's Vintage Irving. And everything about this spot is user- friendly. Right off Union Square, this wine bar (which also has at least a dozen craft beers, four kinds of absinthe and some delicious spirits such as a Charbay whiskey) is comprised of two rooms, one a more serious dining room, the other with high stools and tables which work for dates or small groups equally. While they do serve up the usual wine accompaniments, cheeses such as asiago, Roncari blue, Manchego and cured meats such as bresaola, saucisson sec, prosciutto and sopressata; this spot also has an extensive not-so-small small plates menu that is thought out but not intimidating. Whether its mini rice balls done with a tomatillo marmalade or the daily Green Market veggie selection, or a Hudson Valley foie gras, there's something for every taste, price point and appetite. Winners are the lobster bisque, a just-right light tomato lobster soup served with two beer battered shrimp, and the truffled chicken mini meatballs which are squishy, comforting and uncomplicated in a simple white wine sauce with mushrooms. There's also a number of salads (we liked the beets), rice-themed dishes (a black truffle Valencia rice, a saffron and yellow pea escargot rice...) and a fair amount of seafood. At budget happy prices ranging from $6 to $16 for the foie gras (three plates is about the right amount to us and most things are $6-12), and generous portions, you will feel like you could have a quick drink here, a longer date, meet up with some friends, all kinds of occasions.

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