Step into this posh bar and be transported in time to that famous, eponymous train that traversed 1920's Europe in style. The wine, beer, and cocktail selection hails from the greater European continent, as does the menu of appetizers that we sampled of hummus and pita, ratatouille, and pickled veggies, paying tribute to each of the different stops the Orient Express made along its trek. The interior is an elegant array of dark wood paneling and mirrored walls reminiscent of a railroad dining car, a cozy place to sip your drink in style.
The Corner Bistro is a beloved neighborhood bar in New York City's West Village that has endured for over 60 years. Though lacking the storied literary pedigree of other downtown haunts, it has cultivated a loyal following thanks to its unpretentious charm, congenial atmosphere and its signature flame-broiled burgers — declared among the city's best by New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton in 1978. We certainly enjoyed ours (with a side of tater tots) when we visited. We got chatting to Jim, who was managing and bartending on the Wednesday lunchtime we popped by — he shared his longtime love of the fabled bar. "We're open late. So even when I was living uptown in my young twenties, I would come downtown, drink with my friends and then stumble in here to have a burger at two in the morning, " he said. His enthusiasm and memories are matched by the customers too. Jim recalls: "Every day people come in saying 'I used to come here in the seventies' or "I met my wife here'. So every day we have people coming back to New York and say this is a memory of their past. "Longtime Corner Bistro owner Bill O'Donnell, who turned the unassuming West Village burger joint into an iconic New York City destination during his 45 year tenure, died in 2016 at age 80 after a battle with cancer. ""The owner passed away before the pandemic. And his daughter just seamlessly took over, " said Jim. Corner Bistro retains its consummate neighborhood bar character, giving locals and visitors alike a taste of an ever-rarer old New York — and it's the western gateway to 4th Street!
Having lived in England for a year and a half, and always delighted for an excuse to return, I was perfectly thrilled to walk into Wilfie & Nell. At times it is filled with Brits and you will feel like you have been transported back across the Atlantic as you dine on Shepherds Pie, or a Ploughman's Cheese Plate, or just browse through their extended list of beers and enjoy the pub atmosphere with a Manhattan twist.
Though barely over 500 square feet, Cubbyhole occupies a much greater space in New York’s nightlife. It is one of the city’s only remaining lesbian bars and serves as a “cozy safe haven” for queer women and the LGBTQ+ community at large, according to its current owner, Lisa Menichino. Cubbyhole was started by Tonya Saunders, who fled Nazi Germany with her mother and took refuge in the States. She came out as a lesbian in the 1960s and nursed a dream of starting an inclusive bar despite spending years working in advertising. A week after being laid off from her job, she stumbled across a “bar for sale” sign in the West Village and promptly claimed the spot to open the DT Fat Cat with a partner. In 1994, Tonya took over as the sole owner, renamed it, and transformed it into the much-adored Cubbyhole that stands today. After a trip to New Orleans’ splashy bar scene, Tonya was inspired to hang a colorful hodgepodge of trinkets from Cubbyhole’s ceiling and commission an artist to paint a mural on the walls. Much of the decor is gifted by regulars who bring back souvenirs from their own travels, while other themed objects are displayed seasonally to celebrate holidays. With the change in aesthetic came a shift in the bar’s perception to something warmer and more accessible. “To Tonya, exclusivity was boring. She wanted a bar that would invite everyone in — gay, straight, men, and women. ”Lisa, who had always bartended in between other jobs, was feeling burnt out after working as a probation officer. Searching for a new vocation, she was introduced to Tonya, and the women immediately hit it off. “Tonya became like a second mother to me. ” And as for Cubbyhole itself, Lisa soon fell in love — “It is such a special place. The customers, the vibe, everything. ”Tonya sadly passed away in 2018 and left the bar to Lisa, who has dedicated herself to preserving its spirit. “Cubbyhole is the icon. I’m just the person making sure the operational parts are there. ”
The ice cream at Alphabet Scoop is refreshing in more ways than one: Managed by Robbie Vedral, Alphabet Scoop is an extension of Father’s Heart Ministry, which has been focused on empowering the neighborhood youth in the Lower East Side since 2005. Robbie, for his part, has always believed that if you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of you—in this case, those employees just so happen to be high schoolers from the East Village. Under the wishes of his parents, who are still pastors of the church next door, Robbie has taken it upon himself to hold Alphabet Scoop to an uncompromising standard, always ensuring that things are done right. From a background of 25 years in retail, Robbie has found that he can learn from anyone’s mistakes - including his own. He has, in this vein, adjusted the shop’s schedule to keep it open all year; previously it was just a summer stop, but Robbie found that being a seasonal location made it more difficult for customers to anticipate when Alphabet Scoop would be in business. So, now, rather than seasonal hours, Alphabet Scoop boasts seasonal flavors. Pistachio flavor, a summer 2019 special, comes highly recommended by the Manhattan Sideways team. Alphabet Scoop is also constantly experimenting with new flavors suggested to them by customers, so if you’ve been saving up that million-dollar ice cream flavor idea, Alphabet Scoop might just be the place to make it a reality. The “sweet n’ salty” flavor is proof of the potential here, as it was suggested by one of the shop’s younger customers. While the spritely New Yorkers that work in the shop are paid for their work, Alphabet Scoop is also a non-profit. The mission, transparently, is as stated on the walls: “Justice & Sprinkles for all. ” The kids, typically between the ages of 14 and 16, learn all aspects of the business, from hands on skills such as making ice cream to managerial skills like taking inventory. The goal of Alphabet Scoop is to encourage maximum involvement from its employees, so they are invited to help make decisions about the business. Robbie told us a story of a young woman, for example, who has worked in the shop for close to two years, and who was initially quite difficult to work with - but with patience and persistence from Robbie and other employees, the young woman grew to better understand the mission of Alphabet Scoop, and now even has keys to the shop. Robbie’s work at Alphabet Scoop shows the importance of creating strong foundations for young people, as well as how truly influential small businesses can be in their communities. Stop by the shop - any time of year - to help Robbie make his impact.