If you are searching for a cozy bar with fancy cocktails and no-frills eats in the Murray Hill area, this is your place. With a name like The Caulfield one may not suspect Mexican as the meal of choice, but according to Matt Wagman, co-partner to Dan Lynch, they were going for a scene – and a menu – that was anything but phony. The rebel protagonist Holden himself references “phonies” constantly and Matt, admittedly a fan of Salinger’s hit, thinks when you are having a drink, what would you really want more than a taco?
The space, home of former after work spot Vig 27, is grandiose with high ceilings boasting restored 1930s theater lights and a long narrow entrance with the bar on one side and tables on the other – a layout that was influenced slightly by Union Square’s Old Town Bar. Towards the back there is a space for a DJ or live music which will be put to better use in weekends to come, but has already staged a solo guitar artist. In the very back sits a private room adorned with hardwood ceilings and filled with seating as well as a dart board, pool table, and one of the few working fireplaces in Manhattan.
Drinks are potent and names like “Hunter’s Hat” and “Caulfield Cooler” are clearly – and creatively inspired by the novel.. “Phoebe’s Heart” mixes Herradura Silver, St. Germain, and (mostly) Prosecco. “Liquid Lemmy,” while not named after the book, combines Bullet Rye, Apricot Liquor, St. Germain, Orange Bitters, and Lemon Juice. The cocktails are solid and if that’s not your thing there are still about 20 bottle and tap beers to choose from.
The Northern Mexican fare made by Chef Dominic Giuliano (of Choza Taqueria and The Volstead) is classic and fresh, including favorites like the Chile Rellenos ($9), Chorizo Skillet ($16), and delicious Chicken Nachos ($15), which in addition to the usual ingredient suspects include pickled carrots and cucumbers to enhance the classic bar snack. Tacos come with many meat options including carnitas, carne asada, pollo, chorizo, shrimp, and calbacin (squash) or potato and poblano. Portions are beyond generous and prices are reasonable – at $25 for 10 tacos you can easily feed a group of friends for a decent price.
The Caulfield is a bar that should appeal to many, whether you are craving a beer and dinner or some snacks and a cocktail. While the overall feel is far from 1950s Manhattan, no doubt Holden would appreciate the honesty that the grub, the drinks, and the subtly relaxing ambiance have to offer. The truth is, there’s nothing phony about it.
119 E. 27th Street
New York, NY 10016