First Impressions: Belle Reve

Belle Reve corner table“It’s a play on Cobb salad,” said the sweet-as-apple-pie server, when I asked about the name of Belle Reve‘s Throb Salad. “This might be inappropriate”—she paused, and we leaned closer—”but chef says it’s not the kind of salad that makes you want to go to sleep. It’s the kind of salad that makes you want to fuck.”

I don’t think that was inappropriate at all for Belle Reve, which is much more of a bar than a restaurant (my friend Lisa and I appeared to be the only folks eating on Wednesday at 8 p.m.), and a fun one at that. The vintage Latin American kitsch of Los Americanos has been replaced with vintage American kitsch; does someone have a warehouse of this stuff? It works, though, in its scruffy way. There’s a Hunter S. Thompson quote on the menu, along with typewriter font, but Belle Reve reminded me less of the Beat era and more of someplace Gus Van Sant might’ve hung out in the 90s—someplace that probably would’ve made more sense in the Tribeca of the 90s. “Soft grunge,” to use a phrase that one of Lisa’s students recently taught her.

I showed up first, right on time for the reservation, but when the guys inside the entrance finally acknowledged me, they suggested I have a drink at the bar, since Lisa had yet to arrive. That’s already demerit territory, but especially since there was no room at the bar. (I hovered near the piano.) Instead of muttering to myself about the decline of hospitality, I should’ve texted Lisa about how the entrance isn’t on the corner, despite the windbreaker lean-to, or whatever those structures are called. She was nonplussed, to say the least.

Given certain aspects of my personality, it seemed obvious that I should order the Grandpa (dark rum, orgeat, lime, seltzer, and bitters, over rabbit-poop ice); Lisa pointed out that any drink with that name really should be half off before 6 p.m. She couldn’t resist the Throb Salad and garlic bread, while I went for the butter lettuce with green goddess dressing and the salmon, which was the fish of the day in the meat-and-two section of the menu. Vegetarians are mostly limited to the long list of sides; I chose the baked farro with pesto and the charred kale with pickled peppers. The food was satisfying, and you could do worse. Afterward, when I asked if Lisa wanted to fuck, we laughed so hard that I never heard her response.

Belle Reve is open late, with jazz combos and other entertainment as the night goes on. I’m no night owl, so we’ll have to let other cats report on that scene.

Belle Reve is at 305 Church (at Walker), 212-680-0101;

Belle Reve roomBelle Reve corner boothBelle Reve Grandpa menuBelle Reve GrandpaBelle Reve garlic breadBelle Reve salmonBelle ReveRecent New Kid on the Block / First Impressions articles:
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  1. With that kind of description I thought we’d be seeing a money shot of the throb salad!

  2. So when is this waitress working so I can order her a Cobb salad to go before her shift ends?

    ; )