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NY: Bar Americain

Saturday night in NY found me just a little bit hungry but at a rather early time for New Yorkers, about 6:30 pm.  I decided this would be a good opportunity to visit Bobby Flay’s newest NY venue, Bar Americain, which just opened this last April.  My idea was that I’d be ahead of the crowds at, what I was sure would be, a very popular place. 
I arrived before 7:00 pm and the place was packed!  This is a huge restaurant and the dining room was jammed from end-to-end, including the upstairs area.  There were people standing in the bar waiting for their tables to be cleared.  It was (controlled) chaos!  Since I was on my own I was able to find a single seat at the bar and I just slipped right in. 
Throughout my time there, the bar crowd turned over several times as people would come in and have a cocktail before being seated for dinner.  In talking with the bar staff I learned that around 8:30 the bar normally gets its own crowd and people will be two or three deep at the bar.  That really didn’t happen during my visit but the weather was still really stinky that night so I imagine that kept many people at home. 
The menu is pretty varied, some fish, some steaks, a little of this and that.  A couple of the entrées sounded really great but I just wasn’t hungry enough to go for a full meal.  Instead I settled on the Seafood Cocktail Sampler:  a selection of three mini cocktails, which can also be ordered individually at full size. 
My seafood cocktails arrived about two minutes after I’d placed my order with the bartender.  Hmmm.  They must be pre-made.  I don’t really mind that as so many things are better when the flavors are allowed to mesh, however it sometimes makes me a little nervous with seafood.  However, everything was in good order with the exception of the avocado which was a bit on the gray side. 
My sampler cocktail consisted of a Lobster-Avocado; Shrimp-Tomatilla; and Crab-Coconut.  All three were wonderful but I absolutely loved the Shrimp-Tomatilla!  The tangy tomatilla with the sweet shrimp was absolute perfection!  The crab-coconut was also good but there was something different about it that I’ve forgotten now.  I just remember that I asked the bartender what type of crab was used since it didn’t taste like the Dungeness which is used everywhere here on the West coast.  She was new in her job and wasn’t sure and wasn’t able to flag anyone down to figure it out before she got swamped with orders.  Anyway, I’m not a real big coconut fan but this combination was great. 
The staff at this bar were really friendly.  If you want somewhere you can have a little conversation with locals this would be a great place.  There were all actors (of course, this is NY after all!) and bartended to actually pay the bills.  At one point I got them competing as to who could make the best Cosmopolitan, which paid off well for me!  :-)  They only use fresh lime juice at Bar Americain, which I heartily applaud. 
At one point I admired a dish of Hot Potato Chips with Blue Cheese Sauce that people next to me were sharing.  Soon, to my surprise,  a (comped) dish showed up in front of me! These were heavenly!  Freshly made crispy potato chips, fairly heavily seasoned and served with a little bowl of Blue Cheese Sauce very similar to the sauce I made for gnocchi for the Cooking Club’s Tapas Dinner.  It’s a good thing there were no calories in that dish!  Ha! :-) 
If the little plates I had were any indication, the food here would be familiar yet served with an interesting twist.  Next time I’m in town I’ll probably try to get in for an actual meal.  Or maybe not – the bar was certainly a lot of fun!
152 West 52nd Street
– Between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue
New York City
Subway:  B, D, E to 7th Ave; F, V to 50th St

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