ReBar 147 Front St, DUMBO Rating: 2 L's
Well, it depends on what you mean by atmosphere: some of us quite like the dislocating feeling of entering a cordoned off airport bar and getting wasted on eight-dollar Heinekens; others get excited about the strange novelty of crossing the threshold of Houlihan’s in the bowels of Penn Station, to numb the pain of the imminent LIRR commute; those of suburban extraction may recall with fondness entering the Bennigan’s annexed to the food court, where security guards and part-time phys-ed teachers went furtively for vodka tonics (the easiest booze-breath to conceal).
ReBar, perhaps subconsciously, has sought to compensate for its unfortunate location — the second floor of what amounts to DUMBO’s hipster mall — by providing a marvelous selection of imported and domestic microbrews on tap, along with a connoisseur’s selection of bottles (beer and liquor both). They also offer a reasonably priced tapas-inflected menu, which, though predictable, nonetheless does the trick for tipsy patrons seeking to balance out their stein of Radeberger or pint of Smuttynose Old Brown Dog.
Yes, indeed, ReBar offers all of this nice stuff — as do dozens of other bars opening up all over the city — but not unlike the neighborhood itself, this place is facing an identity crisis. While DUMBO is trying to figure out if it’s completely given over to condos and box stores, having finally vanquished its rearguard of pioneering artists and local businesses, ReBar is trying to cater to both. And though it’s unfair to blame a place for not being the bar you want, it’s hard to imagine this being the bar anybody wants.
To enter, one passes through a small downstairs coffee space, proceeding up a flight of stairs (ideal for drunks) to a café mezzanine which evokes the modern campus common room, complete with industrious locals leaning over their MacBooks. The bar itself is delineated by a wrought-iron portico leading into a long elevated bar table (facing the bar proper) adjacent to a row of tables for two, unfortunately illuminated by a series of antique-y light fixtures reminiscent of a Pizzeria Uno. Taken individually, there is nothing wrong with any of these choices; together, though, they leave one eager to pound back the perfectly poured imported beer sitting on the table... and pay the check. ReBar is not, as any good bar should be, a place that instills the desire to linger — after all, you might miss that connecting flight.