Are you like me? Do you like genteel surroundings, a pretty - but not too pretty! - clientele, and a friendly, knowledgeable staff? And do you hope to find these things despite living at the intersection of frat & fabulous, aka the LES? Don't despair. Check out these two bars, one brand spanking new, the other a little older but still apparently under the radar.
Cafe Dancer is a cool, comfortable, skinny little bar presided over by very tall, attractive lady bartenders who *look* as though they might be difficult, but are actually like that popular girl in your high school class who treated everyone well even though she didn't have to. The drinks are well-conceived - I had a gin/aperol/grapefruit juice concoction that was just about perfect. The DJ isn't trying to prove anything. Everyone smiles a lot.
Amuse Wine Bar has, against all odds, carved out a lovely space on a block of Ludlow St. that is perpetually in danger of collapsing under the weight of everyone spit out of Spitzer's. There's exposed brick, a reasonably priced wine & beer list, and plenty of room to spread out. The music's excellent here as well.
But nothing's perfect. Neither place serves the food it ought to. I didn't see a single dish I felt like ordering. Maybe I'm just that irritating person who mutters that she can make her own damn kale salad perfectly well at home, or maybe it's time to abandon the damn kale salad in favor of something most of use *can't* make perfectly well at home. (Hint: biscuits. or soba noodles!)