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Barmarche: A Corkage Fee That’s Worth It

On Friday night, I decided to try to pinch some pennies and throw-back to my college days in Philly by searching for a BYOB in New York. Much to my surprise, I found with relative ease a well-reviewed buzzed-about spot in Nolita, Barmarche. Here, you could either order drinks off the menu or show up with your own bottle of wine! Sounded ideal…

Upon arriving at the adorable corner restaurant on Spring and Elizabeth and being seated at our window-front table for three, we were promptly made aware that there was a corkage fee of $25…PER BOTTLE. Now, considering I like white and my two male dining companions like red, I naturally had 2 bottles of wine. Meaning, on top of the price of the bottles, we were paying $50! Pray tell, what is the purpose of even advertising BYOB if you’re going to charge that much to open a bottle of wine? Needless to say, with a bit of haggling, we got it down to $40 for both bottles and moved on with our meal.

Despite my considerable irritation and disappointment with the failed money-saving initiative, Barmarche managed to impress me. The service was unobtrusive and efficient, and the food was magnificent. I would personally describe the menu as French with Mediterranean accents.

My friend Michael ordered the grilled shrimp salad and the pasta special (cavatelli with asparagus, pesto, chorizo and peas). The grilled shrimp salad could have fed an army platoon with a hearty helping of beautifully grilled shrimp on a bed of mixed greens, and the cavatelli was an artful blend of flavors, perfect for a rainy evening. At the end of the day, Michael was supremely satisfied with his selections, raving about the quality of the food.

My boyfriend John had the tabasco tuna tartare and the black pearl salmon with pesto-creamed potatoes, tomato and kalamata olives. The tabasco tuna tartare was easily one of the best tuna tartare dishes I’ve had in New York yet, artfully prepared with a feisty zing of tabasco blended in that brought out the fresh flavor of the tuna. John found the composition of the salmon dish bizarre (tomato sauce with salmon? olives in said tomato sauce?), and wouldn’t recommend it.

I passed on an appetizer while picking on my companion’s starters and ordered the grilled chicken entree. I always considered it risky to order chicken in restaurants as most of the time its over-cooked, too crispy, or under/over seasoned. This chicken was absolutely divine. The outside was a crispy skin that was both savory and sweet while the inside was moist and flavorful. The chicken breasts sat on top of a bed of mashed potatoes and portabello mushrooms, both of which were the perfect sides for the meal.

All in all, the food here was fresh and delicious, well-portioned and simple while still maintaining some creativity.

The restaurant itself was both elegant and ‘hip.’ Muted decor and luxurious touches (dark wood tables, soft cushions, flickering candlelight) lent a sensuous vibe to the petite space, while birch tree branches in the windows and interesting artwork spiced the place up. A small dark wood bar sits in the middle of the restaurant with a few high chairs for diners looking for an intimate drink.

Barmarche is ideal for a laid-back date or an intimate catch-up dinner party amongst friends. The hoppin’ location makes it a great place to have dinner before hitting the town.

Barmarché on Urbanspoon

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