Sometimes reading other people’s reviews don’t really help, case in point with those yelp reviews for Manhattan’s Buddha Bar. It’s located in the now trendy meat packing district, and even though it’s entrance is non-descript, with only glass doors marked with a simple name, the doorman and the parking zone outside gives itself away.
Inside, a further set of doors welcomes the visitor and we see the semblance of the queues that we’d read about. Fortunately we had a earlier booking that let us enjoy the food without too much of the fuss. I’m definitely not one of those people impressed by having to queue for my dinner. Beyond the next set of doors you a rounded corridor with a set of smaller Buddha statues leading you to the reception beyond which, the dining room opens up. The dining room itself is dark and cavernous with low lowlighting, and a small light behind the almost ceiling tall Buddha shadowing the back wall. To the reception’s left is the bar when trendy Manhattanites preen and a sushi bar located all the way to the right, complete with slowly drifting jellyfish lit up just as dimly as the rest of the room.
We sat down at our table, noting how spacious it all seemed since we weren’t crammed right next to the table beside us. It helps that this building is a converted warehouse so their extra high ceilings help keep it airy. It also means we aren’t subjected to the conversations of the tables around us, instead turning into simply background noise. As we made our way to the table we noted a huge number of staff simply standing around. This meant that completed dishes were whisked away quickly, new settings laid and their expensive (US$8!) bottled Voss water continually got topped up.
It wasn’t long before our waiter arrived asking if we would like drinks though we’d hardly had a chance to look at the menu. The menu looked fairly reasonable with, what is best called pan Asian rather than fusion. I started with the smoked ribs, asking about whether the smoky chipotle ribs on the main menu were better. He recommended starting with the ribs and trying their rib eye, a small piece considering this is both the US and the price. The ribs, definitely with some spicy kick weren’t the softest that I’d had though I still managed to clean them off with my knife and fork. The steak, on the other hand, was soft and slightly overcooked (medium well instead of the medium rare I’d asked for), served on a particularly sweet bed of some sort of onion relish tasting dish, and some other vegetables. I finished off with a small chocolate cake, though apparently the thai panna cotta was particularly good.
We noted that as time progressed, even on a Saturday night, the whole place didn’t yet seem to be heaving with plenty of empty tables around us. We did note, however, that the music continued to increase in intensity and we were glad to leave before it got too deafening.
It wasn’t a particularly cheap evening out, adding in the cost of bottled water, slightly overpriced food (mandated by the atmosphere), coat check-in and the towel person you need to tip in the restrooms. On the upside, we had a great waiter, friendly without being over the top and in your face, and the food was much better than I had expected (though nothing particularly memorable).
Name: Buddha Bar NYC
Found at : 25 Little West Street, New York, NY, 10014
The Good: One of the “trendy” places to be in New York attracts a wide assortment of characters. It’s large and spacious for a Manhattan bar/restaurant and definitely has a great atosphere.
The not so good: Food and drink overpriced for what you get.