Vinus and Marc, Upper East Side

Today my boyfriend and I decided to rendez-vous for happy hour after I got out of work and before he WENT to work.  Problem is, there are so many good happy hour places in the city that it’s overwhelming.  So where to go?  I finally decided that I wanted to test out this little place that’s a block down from us and always looks so cute from the outside: Vinus and Marc. It’s located on 2nd Avenue and 95th Street.  We decided to give it a shot.

Upon entering, I was pleasantly surprised.  It’s a totally cute interior, with red velvet seating and a nice shiny bar.  Since we got in at around 5:00 PM it was still pretty empty, but we decided to take a seat at the bar.  The menu looked great; lots of seafood varieties like shrimp mac and cheese, salmon, and a lobster roll.  And BING BING BING!! OYSTERS!  Now, me and my man love a good oyster.  Matt’s record is about 75 oysters in one sitting at a $1 oyster happy hour.  I’m not necessarily going to eat 75 at once, but I can definitely enjoy a half dozen or so.  At this place, oysters were $2.50 a pop, so Matt and I just got a nice half dozen.

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Now, the oysters….  They were phenomenal, really.  And I’m not just saying that.  I’ve actually been picky about my oysters lately, and these did not disappoint.  Seriously, look how big and juicy they are!  And they were salty and briny and we loaded on the lemon, hot sauce, and that yummy onion vinegar sauce that usually comes with it.  It was seriously delicious and so refreshing.  They get an A+ for oysters.  Of course, $2.50 for an oyster during happy hour is pretty steep for NYC, so they had better be good!

The rest of the food was good.  And by good, I mean kinda good.  I got the Shrimp Mac and Cheese, which was made with aged cheddar and black truffle oil.  Matt got the Shrimp ‘n Grits, which was somewhat less good than my dish.  The thing that was strange was that the smell of my dish’s black truffle oil and the super strong smoky flavor coming from Matt’s flame-grilled shrimp was a little… unusual.  But smell aside, we dove in.  And really, my mac and cheese was good, but I could have done without the truffle oil.  Whaaaat??  Did I just say that??  Listen, I love truffle, but something about it with this mac was just not flowing together.  Regardless, I ate the whole thing.

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Matt’s dish was a little more disappointing.  It was somewhat bland.  Like I said, the shrimp must have been flame grilled and was incredibly smoky, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the flavor of the grits and the lobster bisque that was supposed to be underneath was lost.  We were both looking forward to the lobster bisque, but it was actually pretty tasteless, and there was hardly and lobster flavor.  Poor Matt doesn’t like when my meal is better than his.

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I will give another positive tidbit though: the wine was ON POINT.  I got their happy hour chardonnay ($9) but it was gooooood.  So smooth and mellow and buttery.  A good pairing with my buttery cheesy mac and cheese!

Before we left we had a minor issue that kind of ruined our experience there…. We ordered the curly fries as dessert (yep) and as we opened the ketchup bottle there was a HUGE KETCHUP APOCALYPSE!!  Seriously I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.  Ketchup exploded like Mt. Vesuvius out of that damn bottle.  It got ALL over Matt, and ketchup got on the sleeve of my blouse (that I JUST dry-cleaned after a red wine incident!).  Hey, after working in “the biz” for 8 years I totally get that stuff like that happens, but both Matt and I were kind of perturbed by lack-of-concern by the bartender.  She said “oh no, that happens sometimes,” before walking away.  Um sorry but why does that happen sometimes?  I was still polite of course but I had to ask for napkins and soda water, and we spent the remainder of the meal mopping ketchup off ourself.  Kinda a bummer.  Before we left the bartender actually said “sorry, that’s wild!” I guess as an apology.  Not like it was her fault or anything (unless she refilled that damn bottle herself), but a little more concern from her end would have been appreciated.  If I was her I’d have bought us a shot or something, I mean, they did overfill the ketchup bottle and we were literally shell-shocked from the ketchup trauma.  When bottles are overfilled it screws up the air pressure inside, uh duh!  I bet you anything the manager is obsessive about any room showing in the ketchup bottles (been there).

Anywho, all in all it was a nice meal, but you can definitely find better spots for a nice post-work happy hour meal.  I’d give this place 3.5 stars (Matt said 3.25 but he was more traumatized from the explosion).  I’m open to trying it again for the wine and oysters but I’m not sure if I’d chose to spend money on an entree there again.

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