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Home > NEIGHBORHOOD GEMS > Upper East Side Neighborhood Gems > Bistro 61 > Space

Although Bistro 61 is compact, the flavor of its food is anything but small. In fact, each bite it serves is packed with big taste. Equally large is the impression that this restaurant leaves on its guests. Outside during spring and summer -- or on those rarely mild days during a New York winter -- the passersby will notice a quaint sidewalk cafe. Several seats are available on either First Avenue or 61st Street. The outside of the restaurant is not pretentious; white bricks with several multipaneled windows framed in rich wood line both sides of the corner. Wall-mounted lighting highlights the entry and provides a lovely, romantic glow in the evening that gently stresses the red and black canopy that covers both corners, on which are the words "Bistro 61" in yellow and red. There's also a screen that separates diners from pedestrians rushing up New York's city streets. It's inside, however, that you'll find a piece of Paris.

Once you enter into the restaurant through its ornate wooden door topped with an ornate semicircular window, you'll notice a beautiful chandelier and lovely mustard-colored walls. You'll also notice the dining room, which includes several tables for dining to the right, where you can enjoy views over First Avenue; burgundy banquette dining up the side that caresses 61st Street, where there are open doors in a portion leading to the street; and burgundy banquette dining around the corner on other side of the bar. Walls are made of exposed brick and the seats and walnut tables are comfortable and arranged in order to facilitate friendly conversation and plate sharing. Interesting pieces of artwork, primarily red, decorate the walls on either side of the bar. At the left side of the room as you walk in, looking to the back, there is a somewhat abstract painting of a green vase with yellow and red flowers that's flanked on each side by three spherical light bulbs, traditional of French bistro lighting. Further back there are large wooden framed glass doors for easy exit to 61st Street. Beyond that and up a few steps is the service area, which is partly camouflaged by lovely hanging green plants. Further to the right is an inverted L-shaped burgundy banquette. A large framed mirror decorates the wall opposite the windows to First Avenue and on the perpendicular wall that adjoins it is a lovely Picasso-esque red painting on the brick wall. The wall directly on First Avenue, meanwhile, has several tables for two and four under the windows. Finally, a lovely wrought iron freestanding floor lamp, in the old fashioned French style, stands at the entry to the room.

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