First Impressions: Bar Cyrk

Bar Cyrk doorBar Cyrk turned out to be a delightful surprise. When I heard that Albert Trummer of Theater Bar (where Tutto Il Giorno is now) is involved, and that there’s a circus theme, I figured we were getting Theater Bar redux—something that would be a bit more at home in the Meatpacking District than on one of Tribeca’s less-trafficked blocks. In other words, someplace you’d go for a fun night rather than a quiet drink.

Bar Cyrk menu3Adam and I met some friends for drinks the other night, and while we understood there would be food, we had no idea the menu would be pizza-centric. Bar Cyrk is a cocktail bar, but it’s also a pizzeria, and you can even buy pizza by the slice. According to the charming bartender, it will also be a café and juice bar during the day, starting in a week or so. As for takeout and delivery, I have yet to hear back from the PR rep. [UPDATE: Takeout is available, but there are no plans to offer delivery.]

Stylish but maddening, the menu is four unbound double-sided sheets that come in an envelope, so once you realize you don’t open it so much as unsheath it, you’re apt to get confused as to which pages you’ve already looked at. The dim light at table level doesn’t help, either. Perhaps if you know going in that the food is mainly pizzas and salads, and the rest is beverages, you’ll be better prepared than I was. (When I went back two nights later, I discovered that I had the first time I went I hadn’t gotten the page devoted to bar snacks. I also noticed that neither the cocktails nor the wines by the glass have prices—the former are $15, and the bartender said wines max out at $13.)

The decor is over the top—or perhaps I should say over the big top, to go with the circus theme. (Can you imagine ordering the Fragolino-Funambulist?) It’s a mix of rococo and circus and contemporary New York, with pedestal tables, leather banquettes, marquee lights, subway tile, vintage circus and NYC photos, crystal chandeliers, glass urns holding various elixirs, and vaulted ceilings painted gold. At one point I announced joyfully that Bar Cyrk struck me as a “nutball labor of love,” which still strikes me as fitting—and which is a total compliment in these parts. I wouldn’t want to live there, but it’s clearly someone’s vision, and it works. Well, except for the salads on display with little labels, the only off touch.

We tried the Negroni Sour (Campari, sweet vermouth, lemon-lime reduction, seltzer), the Bowling Green (muddled cucumbers, grapefruit reduction, rum, seltzer), the Houdini (Long Island grapes, apple cider elixir, lime, vodka), and the Wildcat (muddled strawberries, Florence fennel, vodka). They were all delicious, and the glassware—including the wine glasses—is gorgeous. Because we had dinner plans elsewhere, and because we hadn’t realized the food was more than nibblybits, we ordered just one slice of the Ringmaster pizza—Bar Cyrk’s basic option—in regular and square shapes. It’s made with fresh and aged mozzarella, and while it’s not the excellent Neapolitan pizza that I go to Brooklyn for, but it’s definitely a contender for best pizza in Tribeca, particularly if you like yours cheesy. (When I went back, I had the pizza again, along with the Circus Maximus salad. I still liked the pizza, but the salad had chicken and water chestnuts even though the menu doesn’t mention them. And the Grand Stand cocktail has gin. The moral: Trust but verify.)

At a place like Bar Cyrk, you just know that the restroom is likely to have a surprise, and sure enough, when we were there the soundtrack to some old radio program was being piped in. (It was a bit disconcerting to shut the door and hear voices.) And the entertaining “employees must wash hands” sign  could have patrons spending twice as much time inside as they might actually need to. As I as leaving, I couldn’t help but wonder about the coat hook on the door—it has 10 pegs. Maybe come late night, Bar Cyrk turns into a different type of circus, and the restroom a naked clown car…? Then again, the latest it closes is at 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and the bartender told me they’re hoping to draw a “grown and sexy” crowd—indicating I was in that group—so maybe not.

Bar Cyrk is at 88 Thomas (between W. Broadway and Hudson), 212-321-2975;

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  1. “Naked Clown Car”: one of the best euphemisms ever and possible future cocktail name, if they’re smart.

  2. After a couple too many, ordering the Negroni Sour can get a little dicey.

  3. Very nice place. Great decor. Needs some candles at the tables to see better. And, a single menu would be best. Looking forward to coming back.

  4. Not going back anytime soon The place is adorable but that doesn’t go far after waiting over an hour for a plain pizza. Give it some time for them to work out the kinks.