Wilfie & Nell: Not for Two Old Biddies
First and foremost, Wilfie & Nell is a bar; with a tempting Irish pub grub menu, weekend brunch, and a surprising number of tables, it can convincingly masquerade as a restaurant. Yet, at its core, this simple and on-trend watering hole on W.4th Street is actually a rollickin’ and boozy bar.
On a quiet block of W.4th Street, Wilfie & Nell is squashed between brownstones. The surprisingly expansive space is dark and dreary at first look, reminiscent of a 16th century gathering hall with little light, rough wooden furniture, and perhaps dust in the corners. Yet, upon settling in at one of the communal tables or at the simple bar, the charm of the place starts to grow on you. Exposed brick walls, sparse ‘rustic’ furniture, Chesterfield-style black leather boothes, quirky library-inspired decorations, and seemingly ancient lighting successfully create a mysterious and nostalgic aura for the casual drinking den. If you’re a lucky early bird, nab a table in the windows – during clement weather, these babies open to the street.
The food is a comfort food dream; the beer selection is bomb; and the cocktail menu is good enough to roll with New York’s cocktail hotspots. Inspired by pub grub from the UK, the menu at Wilfie & Nell sources from local artisan purveyors like Blue Ribbon Bakery, MaClure’s Pickles, and Murray’s Cheese to offer such guilty pleasures as meat pie, scotch eff, Guiness lamb shepherds pie, split pea and ham soup, Berkshire pork sliders, and a few variations on a grilled cheese. Nothing is complicated, and everything is soul-satisfyingly tasty. My personal favorite? The grilled cheese on a fluffy Pullman loaf with tallegio and caramelized onions. In a meaty mood? Splurge on the meat pie, a decadent dish of ground meat stuffed into baked pie dough.
Not in the mood for eating (though, if you stay late, the kitchen will keep cookin’ for you into the wee hours, making Wilfie & Nell a drunk-eaters paradise)? The beer selection will fill you up with such well-curated and popular brews on tap such as Lagunitas IPA, Chimay, Ommegang Weiss, and Victory Prima Pils from Philadelphia (shout out!). The cocktails are just as good, featuring my personal fave the Spicy Margherita with jalapeno-infused agave and a not-half-bad rendition of a Pimm’s Cup.
Unfortunately, the crowd is hit or miss – most of the patrons seemed imported from Midtown East and suits dominated the happy hour crowd. But, if you don’t mind running into a few fraternity bros or settling in on a quieter evening, Wilfie & Nell offers quite a charming environment for laid-back drinking and noshing.
Perfect For: day-time drinking excursions, late-night eats, indulging in Irish/Scottish/English ‘delicacies’, ladies’ beer night, after-work drinks in the West Village