A single lampost illuminates the sidewalk outside of the recently opened Grape & Grain, a dimly lit wine & tapas bar trying to find its niche on 6th Street between Avenues B & C. Formerly the neighborhood coffee and sandwich shop, Drink Me, four friends (including a set of brothers), took over the the neighborhood favorite -- furniture, dishware, chandeliers and all. Lit only with candles, Grape & Grain currently offers five white wines including a smattering of South African to German to Spanish, and a dozen reds, dominated by Italian and Spanish wines, but offering tastes of a spicy Chilean Carmenere and a selection of California Pinot Noirs all in either carafes or bottles. A reasonable selection of bottled beers is also on stock, though corked bottles of wine behind the counter hint that the well-studied selection is the optimal choice.
Grape & Grain is the type of place you take a date for a midnight dinner after a Friday night movie, or where you take a friend for an intimate conversation, a shared bottle of wine uninterupted by the raucus of an overpopulated neighborhood. A mix between provincal and modern decor, wooden tables, chairs and benches sit adjacent to wheatgrass growing in the windowsills and sparse walls, adorned with a few pen & ink drawings of New York monuments.
The menu, like the decor, is fitting to the intentionally intimate aura. A cheese plate, with a selection of one, three, or five, is an obvious first choice; the cheeses are from Murray's. About a half-dozen hot and cold appetizers invite sharing; on an initial trip, the white bean dip with spiced pita chips was a tasty alternative to hummus while the second time around, a roasted portobella salad with crumbled blue cheese and prosciutto was delectable and inhaled as though we were famished. Sliced portobellas marinated in aged balsamic vinaigrette fanned over one half of a chipped vintage plate while mixed greens, tossed in oil & vinager were heaped on the opposing half, sprinkled with blue cheese and notably hin slices of prosciutto.
Grape & Grain offers half a dozen "pizzas," Sullivan Street Bakery's focacia topped with homemade sauces and toppings, which, shared between two are more sizable as a second appetizer. Gothamist opted for the meatball and caramelized onion pizza, the bread lightly toasted with adequate, but not overwhelming amounts of sliced meatballs atop. Another pizza for meatlovers offers a combination of prosciutto, salami, and sopressatta, a third, artichokes and shaved romano. For dessert, Gothamist indulged in a chocolate torte with fresh mint and housemade honey ice cream, the obscenely rich torte, also from Sulivan Street Bakery, complimenting the fragrant ice cream.
Grape & Grain is located at 620 E. 6th Street between Avenues B & C. They are open Sunday & Monday, 5 p.m. - 1 a.m. and Tuesday - Saturday, 5 p.m. - 2 a.m..