The other night I was invited to try out Eli’s Essentials, a lovely and cozy wine bar tucked away in Carnegie Hill (one of my favorite Upper East Side neighborhoods). I took my sister and we wound up having one of the best meals I’ve ever had in New York City – which is why I’m very excited to share it here on the blog!
Eli’s Essentials is a grab-and-go market by day (perfect for picking up picnic essentials on the way to Central Park), which turns into a cozy and sophisticated wine bar at night. I’ve never eaten at any of Eli Zabar’s restaurants before so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Quite simply, I was blown away.
Eli’s Essentials focuses on small plates and and boasts an amazing wine list, featuring a carefully curated selection from the 17,000 wines at Eli’s Table, their fine dining restaurant on Third Avenue (yes, 17 THOUSAND). The selection at Eli’s Essentials is much more manageable, with wines mainly from Burgundy, Champagne, and Piedmont. We started off with champagne and all I can say is, it was the best champagne I’ve ever tasted. The sommelier, Randall, took care of us all night and he couldn’t have been more knowledgable, friendly, and gracious. If you order wine here (which you definitely must), Randall will help you out and believe me, you will learn a lot and have an amazing time chatting with him – super great guy.
The menu at Eli’s Essentials is constantly changing based on what is in season – and by constantly, I mean daily. They serve the kind of food you really want to eat – nothing too crazy or fancy, but rather simply prepared dishes that allow the stellar, seasonal ingredients to shine. Each dish was absolutely packed with flavors and textures that I haven’t encountered before, and was cooked to absolute perfection. This is truly what I expect from a New York City restaurant – food that’s a cut above.
I love that they serve small plates – that way you can taste a lot of different things – but there are also larger plates so you can tailor your meal to your liking. When I heard “wine bar,” I was thinking just cheese and little bites, but actually the food here is substantial and you can really have as big or small of a meal as you’re in the mood for. The dishes are really made to highlight the high-quality ingredients – for example, my favorite thing we ate was an organic broccoli dish, which was cooked and seasoned to absolute perfection. Other favorites were the crispy halibut tostadas and the shrimp and chorizo crostini.
I can’t tell you how much I respect and admire the fact that everyone at this restaurant cares so much about seasonality and quality ingredients. Much of the food and wine here is organic, natural, and sustainable, which to me is just amazing and such a bonus. Overall, I (obviously), can’t recommend Eli’s Essentials enough. I left so satisfied with the food, the wine, and the service – the ultimate trifecta that sadly, isn’t always so easy to find in New York. This is truly a hidden gem and I can’t wait to go back!
1270 Madison Avenue (corner of 91st street)
Open 7 days a week