It all seems so innocent at first.
You walk into Belle Reve for the first time, thinking you’ve stumbled into one of those non-descript Tribeca bars on Church Street that’s been there forever but you’ve just never noticed it before. The place certainly has the look and feel of a random downtown New York shithole, but in a charming, “only in New York shithole” kind of way.
True to its New York uniqueness, it’s 10pm on a weeknight, they are still serving food, and there are several financial bros drinking at the bar. Nothing seems out of the ordinary yet, except for maybe the fact that the bros are wearing name tags, even though they are all probably named Alex. You sit down and order a beer from a friendly server, then peruse a menu that ranges from chips and guac and cajun shrimp to burrata and a lobster roll. Not usually a good sign, but you’re ok with it because everything else in this area is either very expensive or very bad and full of even more Alexes. You decide to take your chances with some burrata, the lobster roll, and a burger.
Now comes the first of a few surprises. Primarily, the food is far better than you expected it to be. Your burger is interesting (there’s deviled ham on top) and definitely satisfying. Burrata is never bad. Even the lobter roll is solid, and eating a lobster roll in a place like this would normally seem like a poor decision.
The next surprise comes when you realize that Belle Reve has not been there since the 80s, but only since the spring. You then learn that it is owned by some of the same people behind Employee’s Only and Macao Trading company, which partially explains what happens next.
As you are finishing your meal at about midnight, you notice that while you were focused on your food, the crowd has changed. There are a few tables around you, and they all seem to be filled with people in their 40s who still act like they are 20. The guy next to you looks a bit like Jeff Goldblum, and fittingly has two younger women with him. The table across from him is occupied by two couples, none of whom appear to have day jobs, because they don’t need them. The Alexes have fled, and the music seems to be much louder than it was when you walk in. You ask for the check, because you do have a day job and you are not Jeff Goldblum. And then it happens.
Right as you are putting your credit card away, one of the ladies at one of the tables has put Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” on the jukebox. People are no longer sitting. The two tables next to you have turned into one big group. At first they are just dancing. But then there is kissing. Realizing that you are potentially about to be more than a spectator in a sport you aren’t good at, you get up and leave. As you walk out the door, another song comes on. This one is louder, and even more 70s sexy. There is giggling. Things are escalating.
As you get in the cab, part of you wishes you’d stayed. But you weren’t ready for that. All you wanted was a decent meal in Tribeca. You certainly got one. And you also got some surprises.
Maybe next time you’ll be a bit more prepared. Maybe next time, you’ll be Jeff Goldblum.
The guac is good, and it’ll pair nicely with the drinks you’re definitely going to have.
Sure, why not?
We like the burger at Belle Reve, and they serve it until 4am every single night.
A decent lobster roll, but not one that’s making any best of lists, unless there is a “Best Divey Bar Lobster Rolls In NYC” list. OK, fine. We’ll get on that.
A satisfying plate of pasta that won’t let you down.