What a gorgeous space! I was thoroughly impressed by its setup and its sheer size. The exterior of the building looks like a warehouse (not unlike most of the buildings in Dumbo) and while the interior carries that vibe just a bit, for the most part, it looks like a dark, sultry bar with lots of style and attitude.
My favorite aspects of this place are the large communal tables, and the rustic lanterns that are all eclectic (not one is the same). Overall, the space has a medieval vibe that's slightly mysterious and sexy - still incorporating a few modern touches such as sleek chairs and couches in the lounge area.
The clientele and the waitstaff fits the setting perfectly with a mix of young hipsters and artsy types that are decked to the nines in trendy garb, but lacking the pretension that's sometimes associated with this crowd.
Food and Drink:
Since we were on a tasting and were free to explore the menu, we tried a wide variety of food and drinks. While for the most part, everything was excellent, I'm only going to talk about the highlights:
Baby Artichokes - Recommended by the staff, we chose this seasonal appetizer for many reasons a). for our love of artichokes b). for our love of pork and c). because it was unlike any appetizer we've had. Wow! It really was something special, as the artichokes took on a really amazing smoky flavor from the pork lardons. While this could be heavy, it really wasn't because it also incorporated fresh peas and a refreshing lemon sauce.
Sweet Potato Cakes - Another appetizer and another winner. We were so impressed when we saw the fried pieces of goodness on this plate. First off, they were very generously sized and had the most wonderful crunchy texture. A side of harissa mayonnaise gave them a sharp kick, giving you a run for your money. These reminded me of papas bravas on crack - and I mean that in the best possible way!
Polenta - When I first heard about how much this dish was praised, I was surprised. "Polenta? What's so special about that?" Well I had to taste it to understand it and after having some, I was converted. For this was no ordinary polenta, it was a fancy, sophisticated polenta topped with a sunny side up egg, truffle oil, pine nuts and parsley salad. Once we mixed the egg into the polenta, it was like magic, the whole thing took on a velvety texture and the sporadic crunch from the pine nuts brought in an element of surprise.
Simply put, this dish was out of this world.
Warm Olives - Yum! Another one of our favorites, this was a simple dish that went a long way. The cute bowl that it came in was quite deep, holding many green and black olives which rested in fruity olive oil enhanced by aromatic herbs. We loved munching on these between courses and hung on to them all night.
Dessert - Although the sweets menu changes daily, we had the pleasure of tasting two great desserts - the butterscotch pudding pictured in the above mini platter and a chocolate/orange fudge tarte. In my staunch chocolate lover fashion, I had a strong preference for the chocolate/orange tart that was super thick and had a great spicy aftertaste from the orange flavoring. But the butterscotch pudding was also excellent - it was as smooth as the butter from which it was made and had a dollop of fluffy whipped cream on top.
Drinks - Since reBar is after all a gastropub, we were curious about their wide variety of beers and cocktails. For the beer, we tried the Ommegang (an American take on Belgian beer) that had a lovely fruity finish and a hint of spiciness. Dan also tried a really fancy cocktail called The Professional, incorporating bourbon, his favorite spirit. The drink was enhanced by really strong espresso, which smelled divine. Dan absolutely loved it but it was so strong that I couldn't stomach it, so I left it to the professionals (pun intended).
Service and Cost:
I really liked the meticulous yet relaxed service. Our waitress was super cool and knew her way around the menu. She gave us sound food and drinks recommendations and had an easy manner about her. The other staff members such as the sommelier were great too and overall, we felt very comfortable and welcome here. It was a fun place to hang out after work and I'd definitely come back for seconds.
Costs are moderate, especially given the generous portions:
Soups & Salads: $4 - $10
Small Plates: $5 - $13