“It feels like we’re in the Village,” said my gal-pal who joined me for my much anticipated jaunt to Bar August in New Haven. We can’t always explain it, but most of us can conjure an image that falls in line with what “the Village” is? It’s small and cozy, brick and historic, refined but not over the top, with a dash of European flair. And, with the lively scene that New Haven has already, Bar August is just a primo location from the start. Built in people-watching from its side-street, almost corner digs, and a menu that will knock your socks off, Bar August has IT.
It is hard to believe this gorgeous bistro is celebrating its 5th Anniversary this year, so I’m thrilled to share my experience with those who haven’t yet encountered this special spot. But, if you are like some who may stop reading after this line...just go, you will not be disappointed. Here’s the tweet version for those with the short attention span:
Damn delicious, gorgeous, sexy fare with elegant decor and creme-of-the-crop service. A Top Three date spot, for sure. Super Romanti-cal.
Let’s toast to summer, shall we? We started with a couple of light whites and I really fell for the cava. I mean, who wouldn’t fall for a light sparkly Spanish somethin’ somethin’ this time of year? And then, the Austrian Veltliner; it was a refreshing, crisp surprise, as it was not as sweet as I thought it would be. From red and white wines to beers, ciders, rosés, Sherry(ies), and champagnes/sparklings, you will surely be impressed by the extensive, savvy list Bar August offers. Not to mention, the vineyards represented from France, Spain, and Italy, of course, but Austria, Australia, Belgium, California, Washington, and beyond.
Before I explain how my palate was serenaded by the fare, let’s meet Andrew and Michelle Hotis. They refer to themselves as hosts, which is really an understatement. They just have it goin, okay? They are smart, chic, experienced and have really tapped into a sensibility of diners who want ambience, great food but not a lot of fuss. They give you a real moment. Everything clicks when you realize that, beyond they’re experience with food, they are artists as well; Michelle, originally from Australia, was a singer who traveled internationally, and Andrew, from the Northeast, was a fine artist with a focus on drawing and painting. I mean, really, I even took a video of the loo, for gosh sakes; every corner of Bar August, named after Andrew’s oldest son, is just that cool and just that special.
Alright, you’re hungry. I am charmed by a place that offers a string of delicious, light bites and that is the predominant theme here at Bar August. First, we nibbled on some marcona almonds that are kissed a little with chili oil and smoked salt. You’d be amazed how a few of those with a few sips of the cava can put you in the mood. People, if you have someone you’d like to have all the “feels” with, I’m telling you, THIS IS THE PLACE. It just oozes romance. If you don’t have someone at the moment [eh hem], keep it on the list for when you do.
Have you noticed, deviled eggs have had a resurgence these days? I’ve been to a few places this summer already that are really taking them from the olive green plates of the 70s and turning them up a few, funky notches. Bar August calls theirs “devilish” as their traditional dijon-whipped center is blended with shallots and sriracha. They have definite surprising zing.
Now for a few more hearty, yet still light plates. North African meatballs with yogurt, mint, and dukkah, which is a blend of nuts, herbs, and spices. What a full-flavor treat, both smoky and tart. Then, the pork and juniper terrine was a bit of a trompe l'oeil. You think it is going to be a bit dense and heavy but far from it. Earthy and beautifully seasoned, it was served with grainy mustard and pickles. One bite of this, another sip of your wine, a little smooch for your date. The makings of a perfect moment. [Don’t get me wrong, I still had a fabulous conversation with my gal-pal!]
I know we all just like saying, “We’ll share the charcuterie board,” But really, saying it here will mean something. The board is elegantly dressed with all the quality meats and cheeses you want. From the board to the wine, to the couples and the music. Are you all catchin’ what I am throwin’? If you look up Date Spot online, it should read: Bar August. [But don’t look it up, I’m fearful of what will actually arise these days]. Anyway…
I don’t know anyone serving tinned fish in the way Bar August is. That was quite a delicious fresh treat. However, my gal-pal and I even mentioned how we weren’t always impressed with clams, unless they are diced up really small in a linguine and clam sauce, but Wow, here, the razor shell clams are served with bread and a side of gremolata, romesco, and garlic butter. I was taken aback, and really delighted by how tender these clams were; and with the punch of sexy sides, I was sold.
I was certainly moved by all of the above, and plan to order again on my next visit, but what really made me swoon was the crostini with ginger mascarpone, speck, and tomato. It was bright, fresh, and creamy. I was worried that the ginger would overwhelm the mascarpone, but it did not at all. It was a delicious, winning combination.
What’s an experience at an elegant, chic, romantic place without a light sweet finish? How about a cheese plate with an apricot jam, and honey drizzled apples? I mean, c’mon. This place is made for love and demonstrates a love for great, quality, inventive plates made right there at the bar in front of you.
And, if I hadn’t already been swooning over this tremendous courtship, doggonit, if they didn’t serve the bill in a book of Shakespeare! I’m an English/Writing Professor by day, Folks! Just face it, I became weak in the knees and you will too.
3 Edwards Street
New Haven, CT