Some early-in-the-game dates leave lasting memories. Like the time you tried to bail halfway through dinner with the fake my-friend-needs-me-call, but as you were saying, “Oh my god, okay I’ll be right there,” your phone lit up with an incoming call from Mom.
Most first dates, though, are pretty predictable. You have one or four drinks, eat half as much as you would if you were out with your friends, and you leave unsure if you’ll ever see that person again. Similarly, you won’t walk out of St Tropez feeling like you need to come right back - but at least you’ll have found an inoffensive date spot for when you’re not quite sure how things are going to go.
St Tropez is a French wine bar in the West Village that looks like a lot of other spots in the neighborhood - dark wood everything, candles on the tables, and big windows looking out onto a quiet tree-lined street. While the one-room space gets a bit cramped, the bright side is that it’ll still feel lively when you run out of documentary recommendations and stories from your semester abroad.
The French and Mediterranean small plates are shareable, and you can order in stages if you want the flexibility to stay a while longer (or leave after one course). Along with some charcuterie and salads, they serve dishes you’ve definitely had before - like meatballs, flatbreads, scallops, and charred octopus. Most of the food here is generally enjoyable, so it’s easy to leave feeling full without racking up a bill that makes asking for the check even more uncomfortable than it’s already going to be.
Our only real problem with St Tropez is that it calls itself a wine bar - which is sort of like how your date calls himself a wine expert just because he swirls and sniffs his glass a lot. Whenever we’ve asked for wine recommendations, we’ve been told things like “everything is good,” and they don’t seem too excited to let you try things before you make a decision. You also can’t just drop into St Tropez for a glass of wine, because the tables and bar seating are reserved for people having dinner. The use-case for St Tropez is pretty specific: it works when you need to get to know someone, and want to keep the surprises to a minimum. Just make sure to take that “emergency” call in the restroom.
Very thin, very fishy sardines, topped with ricotta and served in a tin container. You’ll want to eat them on the crunchy bread they come with. But actually, unless you brought some Scope, maybe don’t eat them on a date.
If you love a meatball parm, but like to tell yourself that it’s the bun that’s the unhealthy part, then this is for you. It’s one of the best things here - get it on your table.
One piece of flatbread topped with crushed tomatoes and a lot of melted goat cheese. This is the smallest portion of any item on the menu, but it’s also good. Especially if you like melted goat cheese.
When you see octopus for $12 on a menu in the West Village, you probably assume they charge by the bite. Here, though, you get two large, charred tentacles with a bunch of roasted potatoes that go really well with the tomato sauce. Get at least one for the table.
The herb aioli here is good, but we wish there was more if it. Otherwise, these shrimp are pretty boring.
A pretty standard charcuterie plate with your choice of cheese and meat. They barely give you enough of each to share, but we liked the duck rillettes.
This may not be ideal if you’re planning on getting drinks or dancing or generally staying awake after dinner. Then again, if within the first five minutes you can tell this night isn’t going to last long, then by all means. It’s topped with truffle oil, and it’s good.
We’d generally suggest avoiding the entrees and sticking to the smaller plates here, with the exception of these scallops. You get three very good scallops over creamy mashed potatoes.
The crispy skin and olive tapenade don’t make up for the fact that this is just two bland fillets of white fish served over zucchini. Skip this.