Caviar served on potato chips, five varieties of wine flowing to tables lining an otherwise quiet Greenwich Village block: nothing about Niche Niche looks ordinary. It’s a dinner party for the ages and one born of a bygone era, when Instagram feeds and e-mail were not yet suitable dinner companions—even though the party, as of this summer, has shifted outside.
Niche Niche is one of four restaurants Ariel Arce runs in New York City. Air’s Champagne Parlor, Arce’s first spot, on MacDougal Street, offers an extensive variety of sparkling wines. Occupying Air’s lower floor—and, now, its makeshift patio—is Tokyo Record Bar, a reservations-only izakaya bar. There are two seatings each night, and diners are invited to choose from the restaurant’s extensive vinyl collection. Similarly, Niche Niche, Arce’s newest project, offers two dinner seatings per night, where wine tastings are curated by a rotating cast of sommeliers and guests are encouraged to get to know each other (at a distance). It is, as one employee puts it, “the only restaurant in New York where the wine comes first and the food comes second.” Downstairs is Special Club, an old-school supper club featuring live music; this one has had to close temporarily, but Arce hopes to reopen it as regulations are eased. (This week, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced the city’s restaurants would be permitted to resume indoor dining at 25 percent capacity starting at the end of the month.)