Admit it. When that one friend invites you over for a dinner party, a small wave of dread rolls over you. You text back “Can’t wait” as your mind flashes back to the last time, when the chicken was pink, the smoke alarm kept going off, and you drank wine that reminded you of Manischewitz, even if you’ve never actually tried Manischewitz.
Every night at Niche Niche in Soho is a dinner party. But unlike at your friend’s apartment, the wine is always excellent, and the unexpected moments are what make you want to come back again and again.
Niche Niche is the newest spot from the same team behind Tokyo Record Bar, Air’s Champagne Parlor, and a jazz bar downstairs called Special Club. These are all places where you don’t just go to eat or drink. You go for the experience. At Niche Niche, that experience begins the moment you step into the dining room, which is more like a living room, and you’re handed a Zalto wine glass before you can even sit down.
Every weeknight, Niche Niche brings in a new specialist – typically a sommelier, winemaker, or importer – to curate the wine selection for the evening, which dictates what the kitchen cooks. The staff pours the four wines the wine boss has chosen, and the kitchen cooks a four-course set menu loosely based around them. Every time you visit, Niche Niche is a completely different restaurant, and you have absolutely no way of knowing what kind of restaurant that is until you arrive.
We’ve been at Niche Niche for a Greek night, when assyrtiko was poured and oregano chicken was served. We’ve been on one night featuring all white wines, and another night featuring all-women winemakers, both of which were accompanied by very nice pieces of fish. Once it was a night of American wines, with a San Francisco-inspired cioppino to go with. There is always some sort of appetizer, a dessert, and a first snack course that includes focaccia straight out of the oven, which might be the best thing here. The food is sometimes great, occasionally just a little disappointing, and is generally simple stuff that feels like what would happen if your friend who likes to host dinner parties was actually good at cooking.
But when you’re at Niche Niche, you’re not really thinking about the food. You’re too busy trying a wine you’ve never had before, chatting with the sommelier about what you’re drinking, singing along to David Bowie or The Flaming Lips or Missy Eliott turned up just a little too loud, eavesdropping on or joining the conversation at the table next to you, looking around for the closest staff member to silently convey - in the least greedy or needy way possible - that you’d like a little more of the third wine before you switch to the fourth, discovering that orange wine pairs extremely well with blueberry panna cotta. Oh, and having the realization that you are, in fact, a little tipsy for a Tuesday night at 7:15pm.
That’s why you come to Niche Niche. It’s spontaneous, it’s exciting, it’s fun - and even if the last activity you did that could qualify as any of those adjectives was trying a new show on Netflix, Niche Niche will make you feel like you are all of those things too. The cost for wine and dinner is $80, and considering how regularly your glass is topped off, and how quickly this restaurant will make you forget about whatever terrible day you had at work, that seems like a very fair pricetag.
It’s important to know that you can really only get the full Niche Niche experience Monday through Friday, two seatings per night. Late-night and on weekends, it turns into an a la carte restaurant, which is a lovely setting for wine and snacks, but doesn’t have nearly the same dinner party magic.
That said - no matter what night you’re here, there’s no way to guarantee success at Niche Niche. You could show up on a night focused on a type of wine you don’t love, or kitchen might not be cooking something you’re particularly excited to eat. But those are risks we’re willing to take when the Niche Niche upside is a special combination of good luck, good wine, and a really, really good time.
We can’t tell you what you’re going to eat at Niche Niche, because the menu changes every night, based around whatever the wine curator is pouring. You can expect a snack, an appetizer, an entree, and dessert. And you can expect that it will all pair very, very well with your wine.