Passing the Bar: 200 Orchard

Written by James Mulcahy on . Posted in Eat & Drink, Posts.


WHEN THE OWNERS of Lower East Side spot Orchard Bar decided to renovate, they had to deal with the notorious LES Community Board. These nightlife naysayers try to shut down pretty much every drinking establishment with complaints of too much noise, out of control crowds, flim-flammery, Satanism—just about anything that sticks. During the reboot, Orchard Bar had to tone it down to avoid the pitchforks and torches of these mad-eyed neighbors. Now called 200 Orchard, the spot nixed the stage that once dominated the back room and decided to go green. The space is decorated with repurposed materials while still maintaining a gritty Downtown vibe. Turns out recycling really can be badass.

But 200 Orchard isn’t the first bar to build green. The Manhattan Inn in Greenpoint repurposed materials from an old schoolhouse, and Park Slope’s Mission Dolores recycled metal from an old auto shop for its fixtures. The wood panels that bedeck 200’s narrow space are from an old country barn. Designed by Ben Kay, the slats create a truly rustic feel, like you’ve wandered into, well, a barn, to grab some brews. It’s not just any barn, though—this one comes equipped with stylish exposed light bulbs, steel rivets on the walls and a worn concrete floor. It’s doubtful that the Jimi Hendrix poster hanging by the bar came from the country, unless someone found a farm growing you-knowwhat. The materials may be repurposed, but the design is definitely fresh.

It was smart to get rid of the stage in the back—do your really want to go see your friend’s band play to 12 people… again? During crowded nights, the cavernous back space is perfect for handling the overflow in the front room. The bar also has a large projection screen that shows big events; soccer hooligans should plan to camp out back here for World Cup matches. When it’s slower, the room makes for an ideal drinking hideaway. Squirrel yourself away at one of these tables and have way too much Jameson.

Unfortunately, the inspiration that led to a kick-ass design didn’t fully translate to the other areas of the watering hole. While the decor is transcendent, the beer list stays fully on the blah plane. All of the Lower East Side standards—Six Point Sweet Action, Hoegaarden, Stella and Guinness—are accounted for. It’s too bad there’s no more obscure craft beer in the mix: artisanal brews would have gone well with the handcrafted décor.

It’s doubtful that the Jimi Hendrix poster hanging by the bar came from
the country, unless someone found a farm growing youknow-what. The
materials may be repurposed, but the design is definitely fresh.

The bar also carried a few snacks, but they’re nothing to drool over. Six bucks gets you ciabatta bread with fillings like smoked ham, cheddar and onion or grilled chicken with pesto and Parmesan. It’s too low key to be considered actual tapas, so treat the chow like the peanuts that they give away down the block at dive bar Whiskey Ward. You won’t get a full dinner here, but if you don’t eat something, be prepared to end up in the gutter.

Even though the food and drink aren’t the neighborhood’s best, who cares? 200 Orchard didn’t get swept up in LES gentrification. Frou-frou menu options would seem out of place here, and the drink list has plenty to tide you over. It’s a well-designed, chill neighborhood drink spot. Joke’s on you, community board.

>> 200 ORCHARD 200 Orchard St. (betw. E. Houston & Stanton Sts.), 212-253-2235.

 

A new pick on Orchard: The 200.

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