Drinks

Don't Call It a Wine Bar

A Parisian bar à vins, Racines, lands in Tribeca

Hey, there's a new wine bar in Tribeca.

Wine bar: what a bummer of a phrase!

The name conjures some 1970s-era wannabe classiness that promises to be, in fact, dim, dull and dickish.

Don't worry. Racines NY is none of those things.

Better to call it a bar à vins, which just sounds nicer. But then Racines doesn't want to get all cloyingly Frenchy on you even if it is an outpost of the Parisian original and even if most of the under-celebrated corners of the wine-producing world it seeks to celebrate happen to be French corners.

The long, airy room is stripped-down modern: exposed brick, an open but well-behaved kitchen, stamped tin-looking ceiling tiles that are actually sound-dampening replicas. Nothing, in other words, to distract you from the main thing, which is to sit on the well-spaced stools at the creamy white bar and engage with its ample but not overlong menu of well-curated, naturally vinified deliciousness.

"The wine geeks are freaking out," says co-owner, transplanted Frenchman and recovering telecom engineer Arnaud Tronche, "but many people who come in aren't familiar with French wines. The fun thing is to try to surprise them with something they'll love. That makes me super happy."

There is food too, of course, much of it quite good and none of it quite what you'd expect if you're looking for something old-school Parisian. The chef Frederic Duca earned a Michelin star at Paris' L'Instant d'Or. Here he pairs morels foraged in the wilds of Oregon with burrata from Di Palo in Little Italy ($35, but enough to share); a chop of wooly mangalitsa pork is served with ramps and a crunchy croquette of its feet ($31).

Asked to name one wine producer he'd like to get New Yorkers hooked on, the normally loquacious Tronche clams up.

"Oh god, can I name two?" he pleads.

"One would be Bernard Baudry from Chinon in the Loire Valley. He and his son make wines that sell between 15 and 30 bucks and you can age for 30 years. And, because it is from close to where I am in the south, I would promote someone from Corsica. Antoine Arena and his two sons have put Corsica on the map. They never use insecticides, never 'cheat' in the cellar. It means a lot when you really appreciate the people behind the wines." 

  • In-house sommelier Arnaud Tronche of Tribeca's Racines selects a wine from his impressive cellar.

  • There's no shortage of excellent and rare wines here, like this 2011 Kirlàyudvar.

  • Executive chef Frederic Duca's approach to French cuisine is classic while remaining refreshingly innovative and seasonal.

  • Wild morels from Oregon sit on a bed of Di Palo's burrata and aged balsamic vinaigrette.

  • Each of Duca's plates is a work of art in itself, like these veal sweetbreads roasted with caraway seeds.

  • The wild salmon, complemented by a cucumber sorbet, makes for another vibrant dish.

  • Exposed brick adds a sense of timelessness to this Tribeca gem.

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Racines NY 94 Chambers St. New York NY 10007 212-227-3400

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