Bar Tab: Employees Only, New York City

The bouncer may pull back the curtain, and the tarot card reader start shuffling her deck, at 6pm, but Employees Only, New York doesn’t fully come to life until 1am when bartenders from across the city start stopping by for a chat and a nightcap. That’s not to say it isn’t busy before then as our visit on a recent Saturday evening demonstrated. Queuing here is almost mandatory, absent a dinner reservation (which isn’t a bad shout – the steak tartare, prepared tableside, is worth it after all). You may have to rely on the self-awareness of your fellow man, so I hope you find plenty like young Tomasso who was self-aware enough to move to the back of the short queue when he was joined by the four friends he’d been holding a spot for. Inside, the biggest challenge is reaching across the hordes pinned to the bar to transact the exchange of menu, drinks, ‘check’ and card receipt. From there, the rest is plain sailing, although the cynic might suggest the lack of places to rest your drink may be a drive to increase consumption. Back at the bar, an Englishman pipes up to tell a nonplussed lady “I have a whole bar at home”, she remains impassive, perched atop a stool in a white hat so large she looks somewhat like a patio umbrella. His attempt to muscle in on the industry vibe of the venue may have missed the mark this time, but it was only 8pm. A little early for a Saturday night. (510 Hudson St., New York City. @employeesonlyny). Read more Bar Tabs here.