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.

Though new to the neighborhood and still gauging their clientele (they were out of a number of wines and several dishes after having run out of ingredients over the weekend), Grape & Grain knows not to offer more than they are capable of making well. Ingredients -- cheeses, vegetables, meats, and breads, are fresh -- food is cooked plate-by-plate to order in a small convection oven behind the wide counter. If fallible, it is not for the food, but for the guilt ridden in taking over a well-loved neighborhood cafe. With plans to open a bar next door, and expand the current menu to weekend brunch and daytime lunch, Grape & Grain is still a hidden gem, doing an admirable job of holding its own ground in an endearing space.

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..