I stopped by Sketch last night, the new wine bar in Jesse Morreale's project at the old First Avenue Hotel at First and Broadway. Technically, it doesn't officially debut until March 20 (and from then on, will be open from 4 p.m. - 2 a.m. seven days a week), but as people wandering around this increasingly hot neighborhood happened in the door (directly across the street from Big Lots!), the staffers, led by Charlie Master (formerly of Brix and the Masters family empire), were happy to serve them.
And Morreale promises that if people happen in after 8 p.m. any night this week, they'll be served, too.
The space is much lighter than the original Sketch (Morreale turned that basement space at 250 Steele Street into Tambien in August 2007), with ivory chairs and small, dark tables that can be pulled together as people meet and parties grow, lovely plaster walls (congratulate artist Matt O'Neill for that, as well for the painted ceilings), an inviting bar, a booth in the back, and what could be the best seat in the house: a double stool (bought at the French 250 auction) in front of a second bar, which faces the tiny space that serves as Sketch's kitchen. (There's a second double stool at the big bar, which created some consternation for the manly artist guys sharing it Monday night.)
Chef Sean Yontz was manning the kitchen,slicing up assorted meats and cheeses (three types for $12, five for $16) and teaching new servers about the limited but appetizing bar menu. I pointed out a major omission -- a skewer du jour, composed entirely of items on sale at Big Lots each day -- and am pretty sure that Morreale and Yontz are going to jump on that.
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Skewers aside, Morreale has plenty of plans for the rest of the building that holds Sketch. A patio out back, maybe, more private than the one on First Avenue. Artist studios. Office space upstairs (he's going to move his own headquarters out of the All-Inn, home to Rockbar, and into this building). And sometime this summer, certainly this fall, a still-unnamed restaurant that will go into the prime space on the corner.
But for now, there's plenty to do to get Sketch ready. A balky credit-card system to fix, lights to adjust, wine to stock.
And then pour. Welcome to the neighborhood.