Never in the history of bardom has a space morphed so dramatically. Walking to dinner in the Meatpacking District one night, we passed a couple gregarious dudes standing around outside the old Village Idiot space with giant shit-eating grins and come-hither looks. They practically assaulted us on the sidewalk when we glanced towards the old bar with a look of wonderment in our eyes. “Come on inside and check it out–we’re opening tonight for the first time as a kind of preview.” How could I resist checking out how they prettied up one of the worst puke-fests in the city? And to our amazement, they completely transformed the absolute craphole into an Italian villa/Knights of the Round Table establishment, complete with giant wingback chairs, long wooden tables, monstrous rod iron chandeliers and beautiful fireplaces. You could still smell the glue behind the wallpaper drying, and the wood varnish on the bar crackling just so. We walked back out truly impressed with the change, and wondering how anyone could envision such a palace in the linoleum and barf coatings that it had once been. The manager and owner (?) were clearly proud of what they had put together, and we promised to drop back in after dinner. Unlike most promises made to strangers, we actually did come back and settled by a fireplace with some strong drinks. The kitchen wasn’t open to customers yet, and I think we were sitting in what would eventually be the dining area, with its Arthurian banquet tables, but we sat marveling at what it must have cost to decorate and build out this place. The place could use a little break-in time so it didn’t feel quite so crisp and new (and a bit like an expensive condo), but everything was high quality and clearly thought out. Sitting in a giant chair with a drink under monstrously high ceilings with the dim lighting and a roaring fire made me want to chomp on a big leg o’ something and wear a crown. To add to the regal flavor, there seemed to be a disproportionate number of Europeans up front at the bar–and pretty hot ones at that. Granted this was probably a group of investors or VIPs the way they were dressed, but it impressed us American simpletons nonetheless. Of course I was pretty blitzed so they could have been Jerseyites in cords for all I know. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how this place works out, and if anyone will be down for what looks like expensive communal eating. I’m not even sure if they’re marketing it more as a bar or restaurant at this point, but for any after dinner drink, it certainly impressed the socks off a guy who considers a padded barstool the height of luxury. [MF]
355 W 14th St.