The acronym BYOB predates the millennial generation but is perhaps the quintessential millennial concept. Not kids and not really adults, no longer satisfied with getting drunk at home on cheap booze but not holding down the type of job that affords frequent dinners with $50 bottles of wine. The BYOB allows us to drink socially in an adult setting but, like children, to bring out own bottles.
I’m not a pretentious drinker. I don’t need my wine carefully paired with my meal courses, and I don’t need someone to tell me where my beer was brewed or what kind of aromatic hops I can expect to detect in its aftertaste. (Frankly, I don’t even know if what I said there makes sense.) I would like to drink something reasonably nice with my meals. After all, I’m pretty sure it’s our ability to drink wine from a corked bottle and not a brown paper bag or a box with a spigot that separates us from the apes. The cheapskate in me suffers at the idea of paying $10 for a glass of wine. But the part of me that wants to refer to myself non-facetiously as an adult can no longer bear to sneak drinks with me into restaurants anymore, or to pre-drink a restaurant. It is to reconcile these two truths that the BYOB exists.
I reckon that, with a little bit of premeditation, anyone can manage a pretty damn good dining experience with a much smaller bill by hunting for restaurants that suggest you bring your own drinks. I’ll be testing this theory by seeking out a different BYOB restaurant in each of the five boroughs, beginning with Manhattan.
MANHATTAN: Bhatti Indian Grill
Bhatti is located in Curry Hill in the Flatiron District. It does well to illustrate the point that BYOB restaurants don’t have to be shitty. The place has nice ambiance and fucking fabulous Indian food. Like many Asian restaurants, the menu is gigantic and difficult to pronounce, but everything I tried was great. It also has a wide selection of dishes for vegetarians (no surprise) and carnivores, although if you decide to go veggie, there are several dishes at $7.
My first bit of wisdom to impart regarding trying to be uber-cheap by eating at a BYOB place is that you should plan for buying the alcohol in advance. Otherwise you will end up doing what I did, which is to wander impotently around the neighborhood looking for a liquor store before resorting to a place that charges like they know they’re right next to a BYOB place. Let it be known that I don’t like paying double digits for a bottle of wine.
The second lesson is that, if you’re anything like me, you will still feel a touch embarrassed admitting to the waiter that you brought your own drinks. Fear not. This is not a bait-and-switch in which they lure you in with your store-bought drinks and then publicly shame you for doing so. The wait staff even brings you wine glasses and uncorks your bottles for you. And after you finish the first bottle, you will no longer feel embarrassed waving them over to open subsequent ones.
Also, for boozy lunchers, Bhatti offers an all-you-can eat lunch where they bring the food to your table rather than making you fetch it from a corral, so you can pretend you’re still being fancy.
Bonus Hint #1: Some restaurants do BYOB when they’ve just opened and later add drinks to their menu, so you might want to double-check that whatever source told you a place was BYOB is accurate and up-to-date. Otherwise, you’re defeating the whole purpose of not embarrassing yourself with your cheapness.
Bhatti Indian Grill
Sunday-Wednesday from Noon-11pm, Thursday-Saturday from Noon-12am
100 Lexington Avenue (27th Street)
Photo Credit: bhattinyc.com