Here’s something different, and definitely a fun (though not cheap) date-night activity: the pop-up dinner parties/restaurant at the Old Bowery Station, of which ABODE is one that I had a chance to partake in recently. The place, a long-abandoned subway entrance (technically: an “easement”), is part of the Openhouse family of downtown event spaces, which includes the spot on Mulberry Street that became a great indoor park, Park Here, for a couple of winters in a row.
Anyway, the kitchen/dining area of the Old Bowery Station is much more intimate than their Mulberry space, and it’s all nicely rough-hewn, with plenty of architectural details from its former subway life still intact–the wall tiles, the signage–and newer additions, such as the tables and counters, made from reclaimed wood from water towers (how NYC iconic!) and bowling alleys (much less NYC iconic!). Very edgy cool.
Old Bowery Station is NOT a Traditional Restaurant
If the Old Bowery Station was simply a straight-up restaurant, this all might be less interesting, but Openhouse hands over the space to a rotating team of chefs, who essentially throw a dinner party a couple of nights a week, a couple of times each night. With seating for only about 30, semi-squashed (but not too bad) into a trio of communal tables, the dinners are sold on a pre-order, ticketed basis (see link below), and do tend to sell out. The good news: you don’t have to wait for a table; just show up at your, for example, 9:00 seating, and stroll right on in. The potentially bad news: if you need to cancel at the last minute, it can be difficult or impossible to get your money back.
ABODE and Wupopsup are Currently at Old Bowery Station
There are currently two kitchen teams working these pop-up dinners, and I was fortunate enough to be invited to a meal served up by one of then. Called ABODE, our friendly hosts turned out to be none other than TV cooking competition stars Gregg Drusinksy and Sarah Ashley Schiear, from ABC’s The Taste. Our four-course dinner (snack, salad, entree-and-sides, dessert) cost $50 each, which included wine.
The food was decent, with the crostini sampler, the vinegary kale sale, and the peanut butter sweat treat being the solid favorites at our table. The other items weren’t bad, just forgettable. Drusinky and Scheir are upping the price to $85 for their next round of dinners, swapping out our chicken entree for a lamb dish, and adding a soup course–lobster bisque–but that will only make any food disappointments more painful. But, really, you don’t go to ABODE (or the much cheaper Wupopsup, by Chef Jonathan Wu) solely for the food. You go for the unique experience, the cozy, convivial, vaguely-guerrilla atmosphere, the opportunity to impress your date with your “underground connections”.
You can find out more about ABODE here.. The Openhouse website gives you a good overview of all of their events, spaces, and projects; get on their email list to find out about future culinary goings-on at the Old Bowery Station.