Iron Vine knows how to make a good first impression. Through a sliding wrought iron door, the restaurant is just one narrow room with a modern speakeasy vibe. Billed as the city’s “first historical bar,” the décor feels taken from another era—because it is. The 1880s building has been completely refurbished with materials reclaimed from Peekskill. Fewer than a dozen granite tabletops sit among Iron Vine’s exposed brick, pressed tin ceiling, and reclaimed wood. Iron stools sidle up to a curved bar in the back of the room, under a collection of multicolored bottles.
Iron Vine’s vintage decor oozes hipness.
Embrace the speakeasy vibe and start your meal with one of the superb craft cocktails. A well-executed Iron Vine Old Fashioned revealed a surprise: half an orange frozen into the trendy, spherical ice cube to reinforce the presence of the drink’s orange bitters. The Cool & Proper brought together the best of vintage and modern by combining the flavors of a traditional Gimlet with a Mojito. And the NY Sour—a twist on a whiskey sour with the addition of an Urbanite Cabernet Sauvignon float—was not only beautiful, but also delicious.
It was the tapas menu where things started to go off course. The menu features a dozen or so small plates including the requisite tapas bar staple, patatas bravas—a heaping dish of fried potato chunks served with creamy garlic aioli. Unfortunately, the potatoes weren’t crisp enough, the aioli was too sparse, and date ketchup, in lieu of the traditional spiced tomato sauce, added unwelcome sweetness to the dish. Wings seemed out of place on a tapas menu, and, indeed, the mango habanero version was indistinguishable from a standard buffalo wing. Pepitas added a pleasant, nutty crunch to an otherwise unremarkable mixed green salad with carrot citrus vinaigrette.
Of the two empanadas on the menu, choose the beef picadillo, which embraces South American flavors with olives, raisins, and oozing egg yolk. The vegetable empanada was mushy and bland, and the egg was overdone and thus did not provide any of the velvety, fatty goodness that might have redeemed the filling.
Empanadas with salsa verde.
Despite these letdowns, the menu did have its hits. Bacon-wrapped dates were a satisfying combination of sticky sweetness and salty pork. And, on two visits, chorizo was the table’s favorite choice from the tapas menu. An earthy preparation of tender slices of the sausage with sherry and butter-poached onions was simplicity at its best. On another visit, mini chorizos were sautéed with a sweet honey, the snap of the casing giving way to juicy, deep pork flavor. Both dishes were served with house-made dry Portuguese rolls, perfect for mopping up the remaining pimentón-laced juices.
Though tapas are Iron Vine’s main focus, the menu includes six entrées. The pargo relleno, a red snapper stuffed with crab, was tasty enough—although a fellow diner remarked that the filling could use extra moisture. The adobo-marinated pork chop was unevenly cooked (dry on one end, but juicy on the other) and under-seasoned. Slow-roasted chunks of mojo pork shoulder were fork-tender, but I wished for more than just a few slices of pickled red onion to add acidic contrast. Churrasco, a seared skirt steak served rare with chimichurri sauce, was a standout among the entrées, offering all the brightness and flavor that the pork dishes lacked. Most entrées are served with rice, which was inconsistent—fluffy and flavorless with one dish, mushy with another, and subtly spiced but too crispy on a different visit.
There are three desserts on the menu: Maria’s flan, tres leches cake, and caramel apple empanadas. You can try all three (and you should) with the reasonably priced dessert sampler that’s large enough to share—but be prepared to fight over the empanada. Caramel sauce adds extra decadence to the soul-warming pockets of dough filled with tender apples, spiced with heady cinnamon.
The service is exceptionally friendly and generally good, albeit a bit absentminded. I had to ask to hear the night’s specials, and our server remembered to bring fresh knives between courses but forgot forks.
Like any good bar where the drinks flow delicious and strong, Iron Vine is busy. Even on a Monday night, you may need a reservation to get a table during peak dining hours. And all the hard surfaces, while charming, don’t do much to dull the chatter. If you forget to call ahead, grab a seat at the bar, and learn a few tips from the bartender.