As is the trend right now, the nightlife scene demands more than a chic bar with specialty cocktails and hot music: people are demanding that the scene has food readily available. But not the greasy bar food or diner dumps that you see the drunkards chowing down on, but rather stylish bites that are flavorful and don’t weigh you down.
The latest New York City venue to give us just this is Lair by Michael Levin and Illarion Parmit, two chatty guys that have been friends for years. I had the pleasure of talking with them briefly about this new endeavor of theirs, and their passion for the restaurant business and the culinary arts is evident. Opening up where Obivia used to be in the Soho/Nolita neighborhood, I had to go check out how they transformed old into new. The plushy banquettes and low dining tables are lit by candles and the decorative chandeliers for a great lounge vibe. Lair brings us a modern dim sum menu to go with an array of colorful cocktails.
Obviously we had to try their signature cocktails with great names, such as: Mamma Mule Feel Good (Absolut vodka, cinnamon five spice syrup, apricot and ginger beer) and Mr. Hot Pants (Herradura reposado, mescal, campari, passion fruit, thai chilli pepper agave). Even their cocktails were infused with spices for a unique taste of Asia.
The menu is crafted by Executive Chef Chris Cheung, formerly of Monkey Bar and Ruby Foo’s. After being seated, we drooled over the menu and had to resist ordering everything. First we started with the scallion pancakes with roasted bone marrow and X/O marmalade. The bone marrow was an interesting touch, a subtle flavor that paired nicely with the pancakes that were crispy on the edges yet soft on the inside.
My favorite was the dry aged black angus beef dumplings. Despite the “dry” in the title of the dish, the dumplings were incredibly juicy and meatalicious.
The mango ‘noodles’ salad with rock shrimp and chili lime was a lovely Asian twist on a refreshing salad. The ‘noodles’ were in fact veggies and the tangy lime added a great zing to wake us up.
We ordered the oysters thinking that they would just be served raw and plain – but they came topped with seared scallops and truffle essence, making a killer one-bite treat.
Saving room for dessert, we ask for a recommendation and they served up this:
Shanghai walnut crusted marshmallows, slightly burnt just the way I like it and topped with caramel over thick cream. Almost like roasting marshmallows over a campfire, but much classier. To go along with our dessert, we tried glasses of the red and white sangrias, both brimming with fruit.
We were just about finishing up when we finally looked up to see that the bar was becoming even more lively with people, even despite the chill in the air. They have great mid-week specials, so stop by Monday through Thursdays from 5:00 to 8:00PM and you can get the meatalicious dry aged beef dumplings for just $7.00, along with $7.00 glasses of sangria. We suggest to do as we did: come for the food and stay for the drinks and lively atmosphere.