First Look: Racines, a Tribeca Outpost of a Paris Wine Bar

By Dan Entin  |  April 16, 2014

The original Racines in Paris is a pioneering restaurant/wine bar located in a picturesque 19th-century arcade in the 2nd Arrondissement. The new Manhattan outpost, Racines NY, is on a chaotic stretch of Chambers Street, in a former cheap Chinese restaurant with chaotic water main construction right outside the front door. Inside, however, the spare space attempts to bring some of the appeal of the Paris original to the NYC food scene - that means contemporary French food in a unstuffy atmosphere and a deep wine list that showcases organic, biodynamic and natural bottlings. Like the original, Racines NY is aiming for the new generation of wine fans - those more interested in small growers than big scores; and diners who want a new kind of wine-focused restaurant (like wine geek favories Estela or Pearl & Ash) that serves something more interesting that charcuterie and cheese plates.

Behind the scenes, Racines NY is a cross-Atlantic collaboration between David Lanher, who owns the original Racines and it's spin-off, Racines (2), David Lillie of Chambers Street Wines and French engineer-turned-GM and sommelier Arnaud Tronche. In the kitchen is another Frenchman, Frédéric Duca, who won a Michelin star for his work at L'Instant d'Or in Paris. Duca is from Marseille, and brings some classic Provencal flavors to his menu, like a squid a la plancha with fennel and herb puree and an artichoke ravioli served in a barigoule jus.

Down in the cellar, Tronche and Lillie eventually hope to store 6-8,000 bottles that will feature on a wine list of around 800 bottles, plus 15-20 whites and reds by-the-glass every night. Unlike the Paris location, Racines NY won't serve exclusively "natural" wines (typically, with no or zero sulfites). "I don't want to be as extreme or as ideological," he says. "Most of our wines will be organic or biodynamic, but I don't care if they are certified. We know that our winemakers - mostly small growers - don't cheat." Tronche expects 85% of the list to be French, with a little bit of Spanish, French and American wines filling up the rest. Racines NY opens tonight, expect the wine geeks to come out in full force. Read on for a look at the food and the space.

Open daily, 5:30 PM to 1 AM; 96 Chambers St.; 646-644-6255 

  • The steamed organic egg with cauliflower mousseline and smoked ricotta

  • Tilefish ceviche with grapefruit marmelade, avocado and bottarga

  • The space was previously a cheap Chinese restaurant, and was gut renovated over the past 18 months. 

  • Behind the bar is a vintage 1960s Faeme Ariete espresso machine, refurbished for Racines by Gianni Frasi, the Veronese java guru who also supplies beans to the original Paris Racines.