We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Slipping a bit”
Review of Bemelmans Bar

Bemelmans Bar
Ranked #122 of 13,820 Restaurants in New York City
Certificate of Excellence
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Neighborhood: Upper East Side
New York City, New York
Level 6 Contributor
147 reviews
109 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
“Slipping a bit”
Reviewed May 21, 2013

I have been coming here weekly for fifty years, so I know it well and have watched it slowly change. This may be the nostalgia talking, but I really think that it started to slip some with the new ownership. I noticed this when my bartender of decades served me my martini and the olive had a pimento in it. When I registered my shock he just shook his head. Avoid nights when the Whitney has an opening. Not really the kind of crowd conducive to meditating on the murals and the sobering thought that Bemelman's charming work was rooted in his need to pay his bar tab.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Schipa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

395 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    292
    75
    19
    5
    4
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Greek first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Londoner
Level 4 Contributor
31 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Pricey but essential New York”
Reviewed May 7, 2013

If you're going to pay $20 for a martini you might as well do it here! The walls are decorated by Bemelman, the illustrator of the Madeline books which are worth the $20 alone if you like your children's books but add to that the generous helpings of bar snacks, piano accompaniment and excellent service (not to mention plenty of people watching) and it's almost considered a bargain in my book.

Visited November 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank sevendialsgirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver
Level 6 Contributor
146 reviews
94 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Great experience - worth the drinks prices!”
Reviewed May 6, 2013

Having found this bar as one of the experiences to have on the upper-east side we went after the opera for a pre-dinner drink. I had ginger-ale while my partner had a cocktail. The table snacks were delicious (and the constant top-ups very considerate.) We were seated close to the piano - so while loud - this did not detract from the ambiance. I would return to cosy up in a leather corner, sip a cocktail, and let the excellent piano work it's magic in this eclectic establishment. Definitely worth the visit.

  • Visited April 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank 0livinglife1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Insanely expensive”
Reviewed May 2, 2013 via mobile

Really the only reason to visit this old-time lounge is to have a look at the murals by Ludwig Bemelman, creator of the Madeleine book series; although they are hard to see as the lighting is so low.
The drink prices are just ridiculous. $24 for a glass of vin ordinaire, $10 for a glass of Budweiser and $19 for a Manhattan (and I had to remind the bartender to add the bitters)! I even got a disdainful snort from the barkeep for giving a $10 tip for serving four simple drinks at the bar...sheesh.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
2 Thank E F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Level 6 Contributor
94 reviews
64 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“favorite bar for 30 years”
Reviewed April 20, 2013

a wonderful east side oasis....been going since early 70's.....Tommy, the legendary bartender, has just retired, but new staff is up to the task......always superb piano in late afternoon

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
Thank restoman2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Bemelmans Bar also viewed

New York City, NY
New York City, NY
 

Been to Bemelmans Bar? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing