Ardesia: Westside Winebar Gone Industrial Chic
Ardesia is a ‘modern’ winebar suited to the ‘modern’ up-and-coming area in which it’s situated, the far western reaches of Hell’s Kitchen, now called Clinton. It’s industrial chic vibe harkens back to the rough industrialized past of the now gentrified neighborhood, and large sidewalk patio allows diners and imbibers to enjoy the cool river breezes blowing off the Hudson.
Ardesia lacks the cozy charm of many of Manhattan’s wine bars, yet makes up for it in space, a highly valued luxury. The airy room has high ceilings and bright floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the patio and street; walls without windows are painted in blackboard paint on which the day’s specials are scrawled. Off to one side is a separate ‘lounge’ room with low plum-colored couches clustered around coffee tables. In warmer months, a 30-seat sidewalk patio is a lovely and quiet place to enjoy one of the bar’s many beverages. Everything from the furniture to the bar layout to the decor is simple, streamlined, and contemporary without cutesy flourishes or kitsch.
Ardesia’s wine list is, as expected, extensive. On any given day, there are about 30 wines by the glass offered from all over the world: France, Italy, Austria and Germany, Spain, the United States, Argentina, and so forth. They range from $8 a glass to as high as $15 a glass – at those rates, if you’re not careful, drinks can get pretty steep. The food on the other hand is not only reasonably priced but also pretty good for a wine-focused spot. The kitchen seems to take its inspiration from pretty much everywhere. There’s a Cuban sandwich, a duck banh mi, weisswurst (sauerkraut, bread and mustard), a South American-inspired flank steak with salsa verde, and New York Style pretzels with a gooey cheese sauce. While the options are diverse and yummy-sounding, the actual quality of the food is inconsistent. For example, whereas the Southeast Asian lemongrass shrimp skewers are excellent – succulent and aggressively-seasoned mini shrimps bursting with flavor, the burrata is less of a success. Tough and stringy, it lacks the creamy texture that makes burrata so alluring and enticing.
Ardesia has its flaws – it’s not exactly an immediately warm and welcoming environment, despite the friendly best efforts of the bartender, the food can be both wonderful and disappointing, and our server was acting so bizarrely he had to be on drugs. However, in a neighborhood lacking in many viable low-key and classy watering holes catering to the increasingly gentrified crowd, Ardesia nicely fills a void – and offers a wonderful patio in the summer months at the same time.
Perfect For: midtown west after-work drinks, Clinton locals, alfresco boozing, oenophiles