Features 2 minutes 29 April 2024

Introducing Demo: A New-Age Wine Bar in the Heart of the West Village

Meet the new kid on the block bringing innovation to the West Village’s wine bar scene.

New York City by The MICHELIN Guide

See the New York City guide

Just steps away from the vibrant and occasionally ostentatious restaurant scene on Bleecker street in New York's West Village, you'll notice Demo nestled nearby at 34 Carmine Street with a storefront that exudes a quieter charm. However, upon stepping inside this establishment, which transforms from a daytime market-cafe to a wine bar at night, you'll uncover the newest hidden gem of West Village. Led by chef Quang “Q” Nguyen and beverage director Jacob Nass, Demo transcends the label of being merely a wine bar; it represents a dedication to innovation forged from years of expertise and a passion for reshaping the dining experience.

Jacob Nass, an alumnus of the New York darling restaurant Wildair, walked us through the journey from his beginnings at Wildair, where he and Chef Nguyen met, to the inception of Demo. Reflecting on his time at Wildair, Nass shares, “I learned so much about wine and hospitality very quickly. It was very rewarding to express myself on such an exciting stage, but ultimately, the goal was to continue to transmit an existing vision. I knew that eventually I would want to create something new.”

The transition from a renowned establishment like Wildair to crafting a novel wine bar experience at Demo was driven by a thirst for exploration and creativity. Nass elaborates, “After six years at Wildair, I was ready to see what else was out there. I followed Q to a new restaurant, but the wine program there never took off. Rather than feeling dissuaded, I grew more convinced that our own ability and instincts were worth trusting.”

Demo aims to bring a Brooklyn-esque charm to the West Village, which is easily felt as soon as you walk into the space that offers an unpretentious yet exciting dining experience. Nass explains, “We wanted to create a dining experience that felt familiar and new at the same time. The design of our space reflects this—feeling quintessentially New York, yet also transporting the guest to some unspecified European locale.”

Alex Hodor-Lee / Demo
Alex Hodor-Lee / Demo

Establishing Demo in the West Village was a serendipitous decision, as Nass confesses, “When we first began dreaming of our own place, we never pictured ourselves in the West Village. But now, I don’t think we’d want to be anywhere else. Winning over the locals, many of whom have lived here for decades, has been the most rewarding part.”

The ethos behind Demo revolves around the harmonious coexistence of familiarity and excitement. Nass emphasizes, “Our dining style is quietly innovative in a way that caters to the kind of experience our guests are seeking—whether it’s a casual date night or friendly reunion, a special occasion, or an intellectual culinary experience."

Demo’s innovative approach extends to its wine selection, curated to cater to diverse palates while maintaining a unique identity. Nass elaborates, “I try to make sure there is always something for everyone on the wine list here without compromising our guiding principles—sustainable farming and low-intervention winemaking from small producers.”

Alex Hodor-Lee / Demo
Alex Hodor-Lee / Demo

Among Demo’s menu offerings, the Arroz a la Plancha reigns as the most popular item. Nass reflects on other gambles that paid off, such as the beef tongue tonnata and the lobster au poivre.

In terms of food and beverage pairings, Demo ensures that each combination enhances the overall dining experience with each pairing crafted to elevate the dining experience. Nass affirms, “We try to make sure that almost everything on the menu goes well together—from any given combination of savory dishes to whatever wine our guest is in the mood for.”

With its unassuming charm and innovative spirit, Demo invites guests to venture on a culinary journey, redefining the notion of a wine bar experience. The buzz and anticipation for this exceptional journey are tangible, evident in the restaurant's habit of nearly booking out faster than a New York minute.

Alex Hodor-Lee / Demo
Alex Hodor-Lee / Demo

Hero image: Alex Hodor-Lee / Demo


Keep Exploring - Stories we think you will enjoy reading