The Governor’s Gastropub

09/26/2007 12:00 AM |

Spitzer’s Corner 101 Rivington St, LES
Rating:  3L’s

Spitzer’s Corner recently opened on the Lower East Side, where the streets are filled with bars and the sidewalks overflow with bar-goers — polo-shirted neo-yuppies on their Blackberries and side-swiped-bangs chicks, the current denizens of the area — and Spitzer’s Corner sees much of that traffic. But how many other bars can offer good ambience, 39 beers on tap, burgers, pork fat popcorn, frou-frou antipasti and waiters who recommend beers (that you end up liking) and have day jobs as art professors?

Modeled after a European gastropub and named after the antique dress shop that once stood in its stead, the entirely wooden interior is both cozy and sleek. The retractable windows connect the cellar-like design to the city street, and patrons hang their legs out window seats as they sip their beer and wait for that pork-fat popcorn. I went on a Wednesday night at 9:30 and ended up sitting in the middle of a long communal table that was mildly reminiscent of an Amish family picnic and offered little distance from men at what appeared to be a fraternity reunion. No matter, the waiter was more than happy to choose a beer for me (Allagash White, $7), which was delicious. My friend had the Rogue Dead Guy Ale ($6), just light and summery enough to evoke nostalgia, so we allowed the waiter to bring us two more brews of his choice. Round two — Smutty Nose Summer Weizen ($6) and the Leffe Blond ($7) — came alongside our antipasto plate ($15), which was a little pricey compared to the beer, and although the dollop of rustic mustard on a flat white plate and the deliciously savory tastes of salami, goat cheese, and olives were effortlessly gourmet, I found myself wishing the popcorn machine wasn’t broken.

But oh the bathroom! For those mid-date and rushing to the hideaway where they can search for their center and check their teeth for mustard seeds, this cellar within a cellar with slate-gray wooden walls and muted acoustics was a meditative oasis far from the loud upstairs. For a bathroom like this, and for service like this — where your waiter is a visiting sculptor at Pratt, knows his beer, and can recommend a Cuban place around the corner where dinner is cheaper — you should go. But go before winter, because when the walls of windows close, it really will be like a cellar, and there’s no use suffocating in a tie-filled frat house.