The stretch of Bowery from Houston to about West 4th needs a new, hip, casual, boozy restaurant like it needs a hole in its head (think: Peels, Hecho en Dumbo, DBGB, Pulinos, etc.). BUT if said (eating- and watering-) hole is as good and as much fun as the Wren? Well, then.. we'll take it! Just opened before the holidays by the crew behind West Village favorite Wilfie and Nell, the Wren is a British/Irish pubby sort of place with a short but appealing pub food menu of snacks and such, a longer list of interesting wines, beers, ciders, and cocktails, and an infectiously convivial atmosphere that will make this a welcome stop-in spot all winter long.
We've dropped by the Wren a couple of times already, sampling as much of the the Wren's menu as we could, and basically feeling very comfortable and satisfied–with the food, the crowd, the noise levels, the design, all of it–both early in the evening and later at night. The Jar section of the Wren's pub food menu seems solid all the way through (Chicken Liver Mousse is super creamy; Pickled Beets are super pickley), but so far the standout for us was the Oxtail Marmalade, the moist strips of wonderfully gamey meat served with buttery Tom Kat toast. Another winner was the Roasted Cauliflower and Bacon Broth Soup, which tastes as it sounds, which is to say: it tastes delicious. Chunks of ham, charred cauliflower, clear smoky broth, topped by a hunk of cheesy bread, nicely done.
Everything in the brief Bigs part of the Wren menu looked good, and we weren't disappointed by our Heritage Pork Sausage Sandwich, the thick juicy sausage balanced nicely with pickled fennel and a sweet onion mustard. Again, the excellent bread played much more than a supporting role here, cutting some of the sandwich's natural sweetness. This is terrific pub food, designed for snacking and sharing while sipping a drink or three, rather than a traditional dinner, but the servings are large enough, and the prices gentle enough, that it's easy to leave the Wren feeling full without getting hammered by expensive three-bite dishes. It's tough to cut through the nightlife clutter on these four blocks of the Bowery, but given our experience and the crowds we've seen so far, the Wren NYC seems fully capable of doing just that.
The Wren NYC details
The Wren is located on Bowery between Bond and Great Jones Streets and is open on Monday to Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m., on Thursday and Friday from 4:00 until 4:00 a.m., on Saturday from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m., and on Sunday from 1:00 until 2:00 a.m. For more information and a look at the complete Wren menu, please see the Wren website, here.