sortieinterior.jpgWe know that all back gardens are not created equal. They are useful for for pretending you aren't still addicted to cigarettes or can keep your hands off your date in front of your friends. Some, like the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria are nearly always packed, others, like Commonwealth in Park Slope are a welcome addition to an established great neighborhood bar and yet others, like the promised back garden area of Sortie don't exist at all. There is an outdoor area in the front on West 51st Street but the steps down from the street don't allow for more privacy or any kind of garden experience involving plants.

Inside the bar looks more and more interesting from the Moroccan tile work to the salvaged Mobil horse against one wall. The long black lacquered tables and red banquettes are romantic and better yet is the anteroom at the back of the space. This room with a gorgeous draped skylight and the most overstuffed loveseat we've ever seen outside of a catalog is inclined to make small parties fall into each other as quickly as possible. The room and its sheen comes from partner Eric Macaire, of Bubble Lounge, who knows from shiny and has run with it. Our friends enjoyed the beautiful bartender and waitress but the drinks had more style than substance, and with $8 well drinks, we need to get what we order. We haven't tried all the specialty drinks yet but the beer list (over 30 and counting) is impressive and a good bet. Happy hour, weekdays from 5-7pm, has an array of deals, too.

Sortie has style but only time (and the also promised DJ-sommelier who was neither spinning nor reccomending when we visited) will tell if it'll ever be able to compete with the ages old Single Room Occupancy for our tired, shriveled and drunken heart.

329 West 51st Street
Between 8th and 9th Avenues
(212) 265-0650