12 January 2009

Matchbooks of the Lost City: Soho Kitchen and Bar

Here's an amusing blast from the past, in these days of widespread oenophilia. A matchbook from the Soho Kitchen and Bar. If you loved wine and liked variety, this was the place to go in the 1980s. It had 100 wines by the glass at a time when most restaurants had two: a red and a white.

Read this from 1983 in the New York Times:

It began as a novelty several years ago. Restaurant bars around town started serving eight or so finer wines by the glass, using a nitrogen-sealing machine that kept them from deteriorating if the bottle was not finished the same day. Then a few ambitious bars installed two or three of the machines to increase their capacities. Now a new restaurant-wine bar in SoHo holds the title of the Macy's of oenophiles by offering 110 wines (including sparklers) by the glass.

The SoHo Kitchen and Bar at 103 Greene Street, near its sister restaurant, called Greene Street, has ambitious plans to encourage customers to sample wines. One is to offer "flight" tastings. That could include eight wines from a particular region, such as Alsace; a range of wines in a certain category - dessert wines from California, for instance - or comparisons of European and American wines made from the same grapes.

A flight of eight one-ounce glasses costs $10 and up, depending on the wine. The SoHo Kitchen and Bar is an airy, loftlike place done in industrial chic with a huge bar spanning the center of the room. Reasonably priced sandwiches and light entrees are served to the background of mellow rock music. It is worth a visit for those interested in comparing wines or trying unusual selections that are not widely available, such as Australian or South African wines. The wine bar is only in partial operation this weekend, but the management says it will be in full swing by New Year's Eve.

I love that "flight" is in quotes.

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