Much has already been made of this new Lower East Side speakeasy, which occupies the former site of Lansky Lounge. Yes, its hidden entrance is marked by a small, misleading sign for the Lower East Side Toy Company. Yes, there is a secret door in a bookcase that leads to a separate V.I.P. room. And yes, the celebrity owners (among them Tim Robbins) sometimes stop by. But while that might lead you to believe that the Back Room is a swank, velvet-rope establishment that slings overpriced drinks to a hipper-than-thou crowd, nothing could be further from the truth. The spacious, bi-level bar, which (unlike most spots in this neighborhood) is neither sleekly modern nor purposely divey, is decorated like an upscale hotel. The gold-and-crimson settees and armchairs are backed by like-colored fabric wallpaper, and the room is illuminated by crystal chandeliers. In a nod to Prohibition, wine ($8) and liquor ($6 for a well drink) are served in double-handled teacups, and beers ($6) arrive in surreptitious-looking brown paper bags. Don’t let the classy decor or the fine-china mugs fool you, though. The music is loud, the dress is casual, and the crowd is frisky. So once you find this room, you’ll definitely be back.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 1, 2005