When it comes to food and drink in Hoboken, it either rains or it pours—we either have sixteen restaurants offering a cuisine, or we have none. We either have a dozen places to get a great whiskey pour, or we have none. And so it is with wine bars—for a long time, of course, we had none, unless you count Amanda’s or Court Street. Both of those spots have great wine lists, but they’re not really a classic wine bar.
Then we got Bin 14, and the people were ecstatic. Bin 14 offered a strong, always-evolving wine list paired with a wonderful menu. Whether at a table or at the bar, it was well worth trooping uptown for. And for the last year and a half, we’ve had Grand Vin on Grand and 5th Street, which has earned a reputation just as good as Bin 14’s as a great place for a glass of wine—and a lot more.
People often talk about the “vibe” at Grand Vin, and it is certainly a comfortable, relaxed place. It’s nicely done and upscale, but not intimidating—almost as if your local bar had gotten a renovation and an upgraded wine list (the spirit of The Three A’s lives on). It’s the sort of place where you feel at home right away.
The renovation on the space is gorgeous, with the hanging lights giving it a romantic, timeless feel, especially at night. But that doesn’t mean it’s only for Date Night. Grand Vin has a slightly more “bar” feel to it than Bin 14—they’re both great spots for a romantic night out as well as meeting friends for drinks, but Grand Vin feels more casual, more neighborhoody.
Grand Vin has a pretty strong wine list, but unlike Bin 14 it’s also got strong beer and liquor lists, making it a bit more well-rounded. The wines skew heavily towards Italian, naturally, and the staff is helpful and knowledgeable, so if you’re one of those people who “knows what they like” but find it hard to articulate, chances are good you’ll land on a great wine. And if you’re with friends who aren’t all wine lovers, there’s plenty of beer on tap (and in cans and bottles) and a decent if finite supply of liquors. Any place that serves Fat Tire, Glenmorangie, and Auchentoshan is going to get high marks from me.
The food is uniformly fantastic. It’s hearty, with ample portions, and it’s delicious. Standouts include the Fried Cajun Calamari, the Meat and Cheese Board, the Crab Guacamole (seriously—you must try it), the Homemade Gnocchi, the Sea Bass, and the Truffle Fries. A lot of people seem to show up early for a cocktail, segue directly into dinner, then continue to hang around working on a few more drinks. It’s that kind of place.
Bottom line, if you’re in the mood for a wine bar but don’t feel like making it all the way uptown to Bin 14, Grand Vin is it’s own experience—and a very good one.