photo courtesy of erika pal illustrationI hope everyone had a good Valentine's day; I did. We went to Vol de Nuit, a Belgian beer lounge in the west village (on w 4th just east of 6th avenue). During a lovely sunday afternoon spent wandering the streets of lower manhattan, we stumbled upon this gem and decided it warranted a special occassion visit.
You have to walk through a sort of alley/courtyard deal to get to the entrance of Vol de Nuit, which imediately gives it a foreign feel (or at least makes it that much easier to pretend that you aren't in new york for a couple of hours). The first thing I thought upon entering was I want to live here. It is just a realy cool, comfortable space. It's pretty dark, with distressed walls and exposed ceiling beams that have old cobwebby lanterns hanging off of them. There are a few tables when you first walk in, next to the windows that look out onto the small courtyard area; which, if i lived here, would make a nice foyer. Then you walk up a couple of steps into the main space where there are some couches and tall tables before you get to the bar. Across from the bar in the back, there's a nook with a large communal table, where I would put my bed. Here the windows look out onto that basketball court on 6th, so basically on all sides you are insulated from the city somehow.
We sat at one of the front tables, where they served us from a menu with a fine selection of beers on tap. The beer comes in what I'm guessing are appropriate kinds of big, fun glasses which I always enjoy. But we were not there merely to imbibe. Rest assured, SPFers, Vol de Nuit offers a dining experience not soon to be forgotten. Moules et Frites is a traditional Belgian snack, and I wouldn't mind if it turned into my traditional Saturday night dinner. They served the mussels in a large pot, floating in an oniony sea of brine. The fries came in a paper cone, served alongside ketchup (lame), mayo (gross), and our choice of dipping sauce (Aioli garlic). I realize the sauce is probably predominantly mayonnaise, but if we could all just not talk about it, that would be great. While the sauce selection here is smaller than at Pommes Frites, I personally liked the fries better. They were less potatoey: more fried and salty, how I like my fries.
As if all of this weren't perfect enough, there is also a little bonus bar across the courtyard. This feels more like a wine bar, but it seems to have the full selection of food and drink available. Either no one else knows about the annex, or they don't prefer its (aptly dubbed by j) industrial gothic decor, but we practically had the place to ourselves. The small lounge upstairs was totally empty, and the ideal place to have our final drink as we digested. This is the one location that provides an actual view of the city streets, preparing us for the outside world once again.
I really love this place. Oh and if I lived there, I would obviously keep the bar in place. And you guys could all live in baby bar and we could hang out in the courtyard and that would be great.