Chelsea Market continues to evolve into a one-stop shop for artisanal food and drink with its expanded list of night time venues that fit neatly into the market’s concept. The most recent addition delivers a much needed wine bar to the area courtesy of master sommelier Laura Maniec. Hitting home with her first venture Corkbuzz Wine Studio near Union Square, the second incarnation, Corkbuzz Wine Bar (75 Tenth Avenue, 646-237-4847), opened its doors just four weeks ago, and it has already been overrun with market shoppers and tourists in need of a crowd-coping buzz.
Taking inspiration from the “the convivial, lively markets and plazas that are gathering places in Europe,” according to Maniec, Corkbuzz Wine Bar exudes an inviting warmth with glowing wood paneling and hand-painted floor tiles evocative of southern Spain. A herringbone wine rack provides a focal point behind the L-shaped zinc and Caesarstone bar. The rear section of the space attempts an unorthodox layout of tiered seating reminiscent of the Spanish Steps in Rome. The idea was to encourage guests to relax with small plates on the elevated platforms, although during a recent visit, Maniec intimated that she plans to alter the design: the knees up, food in your lap arrangement makes dining awkward, especially for a woman wearing a dress.
Maniec has compiled a superb collection of wines. She derived inspiration for the 150-bottle list by cleverly quizzing sommelier colleagues around the country for their favorite wines, and sourcing them for her bar. Guests will find a page listing each sommelier’s name, place of business, and his or her initials; as you thumb through the list, you’ll know who picked the wine, and who to blame if you love it or hate it.
If you’ve read anything about Maniec before, you know she loves Champagne. Her healthy fixation on bubbles carries over to the new space, as does her crusade to teach imbibers that Champagne can be a daily drink, too. Every night, Maniec’s “Champagne Campaign” promotes bottles at 50 percent off, from 4 to 5 p.m. and after 10 p.m. Her collection has gotten so big she’s redesigning the menu to fit additional off-list labels.
If you’re feeling up for a palate challenge, take advantage of the “blind tasting happy hour” offered daily from 4 to 7 p.m. Tell the bartender or waiter white or red, and you’ll get three unidentified pours for $15, accompanied by a tasting sheet modeled off Maniec’s master sommelier exam study guide.
The food is as much a focus as the wine. Chef Missy Robbins collaborated with Maniec to build a collection of dishes inspired by travels through Europe. Highlights include flaky gougeres piped with fontina and speck; a cotechino sausage sandwich on a baguette discovered in Modena, Italy; and cured sardines with tomato conserva and sesame. A selection of snacks and sandwiches are also available to-go for those looking to take an evening stroll on the High Line sans wine.
Corkbuzz can be accessed from inside the market or outside, mid-way on 15th Street. For now, there’s no signage marking the industrial exterior entrance, and no individual address to seek. In a few weeks, however, you’ll be able to take asylum from the frenetic streets of Chelsea without plowing through the crowds of the market — just look for the glowing pink light.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 27, 2014