Have you ever had one of those nights where everything starts out wrong and ends up so right? That was a recent Monday night for me. A date cancelled on me last minute (strep throat) and I found myself done with the gym at 6 pm, dressed up nicer than usual with no where to go. Instead of wasting my outfit and falling into a Netflix hole on the couch, I decided to treat myself to a nice glass of wine and a salad.
I had been meaning to try Aldo Sohm for a while now, and have admittedly walked by the Le Bernardin off-shoot (created by the Michelin star restaurant’s master sommelier) since it’s opening in 2014. Finally, on this chilly Spring day in 2017, I mustered up the courage to walk in. At first, it was as intimidating as I imagined. You’re greeted immediately at the door by the host in a suit with a classic French accent — and in that moment, I became increasingly aware of the ugliness of my canvas backpack. But once he spoke, I was no longer made to feel unwelcome. He ushered me to the first-come-first serve bar, offering me a seat and to throw out my ugly plastic water bottle (optics, baby).
A darling red-headed sommelier (I’m later led to believe all the waitstaff are soms) stopped by my seat, asking me about my wine preferences. I started with my typical ‘I think I know wine, but does this actually explain what I like?’ spiel. She politely followed up by asking what specific types of wine I like, to which I listed off the glasses I order when I’m not determining my preferences based on the price on a menu. She suggested two reds (for context these were priced at $13 and $15 respectively, and the least expensive glass on the menu is $12 — the most $60+, for a glass). It’s one of those rare moments when you don’t feel judged, but understood.
And the wine, a light but fruit forward, Pelaverga was delightful. I sipped it with glee as I read the novel Sweetbitter which indulged my other senses about the inner-workings of the restaurant world. I paired the great wine and read with an arugula salad topped with aged Parmesan and beef bresaola.
Half-way through my blissful solo ‘date,’ a gentleman sat down next to me, sparking up a conversation. Turns out, he’s one of the wine providers for the restaurant. He was joined shortly later by a younger woman — my age — and another gentleman who was a local sommelier. As I started packing up my bag to leave, they asked if I’d like to join them to taste more wine. I quickly said, yes.
And so my night transformed into tasting two delightful bottles of red, learning about the complexity in taste and style of the ones we tasted and inquiring about how to distinguish different flavors and experiences. To compliment the drinks, they order ‘the Tower,’ the restaurant’s famed charcuterie dish that is served on a literal tower. There was duck terrine, blood sausage, foie gras. Everything I loved on one swooping tower topped with a never ending supply of freshly cut French bread.
As the wine stopped flowing and two lonely remaining slices of meat sat on the dark wooden tower, the men plotted their next stop at a place downtown (that I couldn’t for the life of me pronounce) for the best Negroni’s in the city. They asked if I wanted to join. I politely declined. It was late (9:15), and a work night (Monday) and time to make my way home. I thanked the trio for saving my night, put my canvas backpack on, and walked back home to sit on my couch and watch Netflix.
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar • 151 W 51st St, New York, NY