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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American West Village Moderate Good

There are ghosts on the streets of New York. They live in crooked sidewalk cracks, in wobbly cobblestones, and in the brick and mortar of our city’s aging buildings. You may not see them, you may not hear them, and you certainly may not believe in them, but their spirits are here. And two such spirits live in the elbow-shaped intersection where Commerce Street meets Barrow. This is where, in the 1830s, two feuding sisters could not learn to live in peace. This is where their brother Peter Huyler decided to do the only thing he could: separate them. Legend has it (with absolutely no evidence to support it other than lore), he built them each a house, one at 39 and one at 41 Commerce Street, with a generous garden in between. As the story goes, it is there that they lived, feuding, for the rest of their lives. The legend of the two sisters of Commerce Street was the inspiration for “Common Ground for the Sister Story,” a Gauguin-like mural painted by artist David Joel that now covers the far wall of the newly opened Commerce.

Commerce comes to us from Tony Zazula and chef Harold Moore (formerly of Montrachet), and it does a fine job of embracing the ghosts of Commerce Street’s two sisters with a mural that offers a happier ending, one of reconciliation and community, rather than dissidence. It also embraces the spirit of its former tenant, the beloved Grange Hall, a longtime deco icon with spectacular cocktails and classic American fare. In designing Commerce, Zazula wanted to preserve that deco-era grace that was the hallmark of Grange Hall, so he sourced an original Brunswick Bar, circa 1941, and restored the bar’s snug wood and leather banquettes and hand-painted light fixtures. The place is immensely inviting. Stroll in for a cocktail at the bar, have a seat at one of the soft leather bar chairs, and you’ll never want to leave. The drinks are beautiful—my favorite is the Brunswick, which combines scotch with fig puree and lemon—but there are plenty to choose from including the Nor’easter (rum, fresh line, ginger and soda) and the classic Daisy (vodka, house-made grenadine and lemon juice).

The Brunswick Bar at Commerce

Unfortunately, Zazula’s gone astray a bit with the design of the main dining room, replacing the original ceiling with one that loo ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in West Village :
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