Is the Upper East Side actually getting some downtown flavor? For example, over the past couple of years we've seen the likes of the great "food-driven pub" Jones Wood Foundry start slinging its bangers and mash on 76th and First Avenue, and then the lively, creative cocktail spot JBird open a few blocks up on 75th Street, neither of which would seem out of place on such stretches of NYC nightlife hipness as, say, Bowery near Houston, or Soho's Lafayette Street. And now, add to that list of Upper East Side happening hip-spots, The Penrose NYC, a handsome, rambling restaurant and bar from the team behind the always-a-blast downtown mainstays, Wilfie and Nell, and The Wren.
The Penrose Bar on the Upper East Side
We were able to stop by The Penrose Bar on the Upper East Side last week, just a few days after it opened, and early in the evening before the crowds turned the place into a party. Our first impression? This place–deep and large, with lots of subtly intimate seating areas as well as several big tables and surprisingly "daring" indie music–is going to be hopping. There are at least twelve beers on tap, from Sixpoint Sweet Action out of Brooklyn, to Belgium's Delirium Tremens, as well as another dozen or so in bottles or cans, plus several wines, and many, many whiskeys. And the house cocktails, none costing more $11 (which, in case you're new in town, is a bargain), read like a list someone's going to have a lot fun getting all the way through. Full disclosure: we only had the house-made Root Beer, no boozy spike, but it was outstanding.
The Food at The Penrose NYC
Of course, you need to eat, too, and The Penrose NYC has got you covered. The Penrose Bar Upper East Side menu is relatively short and heavy on the comfort food, but as long as it's good–and from what we sampled, it definitely is that–that's fine by us. The Fried Chicken at The Penrose, for example, was first-rate, a fat leg and a fatter thigh for only six bucks, crisp and juicy and well-seasoned (pro tip: always let your fried chicken cool down a little before tucking in; that way the skin doesn't all slide off with your first bite). And the Mac & Cheese, served bubbling in a skillet, yes please on the added bacon is a solid entry into an admittedly crowded field. Next time? Definitely getting the 40-day-cured Spiced Beef brisket sandwich.
The Penrose Bar NYC Details
The Penrose is located on Second Avenue between 83rd and 82nd Streets, and is open Monday through Thursday from 3:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m. (food until 1:00 a.m.); on Friday, Saturday and Sunday The Penrose opens at 1:00 p.m. For more information and a look at the complete Penrose Bar menu.