Meatpacking District’s Kola House had a lot of expectations to live up to. Touted as one of the biggest and hottest openings of Fall, this 5,000 square foot space is the “first experimental kola bar, restaurant, lounge and event space to open in the U.S. market.” According to a recent press release. “The flagship location (in Meatpacking) will also serve as a transformative event space for pop culture moments in music, art, style, film, sports and more.” The Kola House pays homage to the kola nut, a nut that also drives the creativity and inspiration of its cocktails, elixirs and specialty plates on the menu.
PepsiCo owns this modern, oh-so-trendy hotspot, but you’d never guess it based on the atmosphere, décor and style of the space. You won’t see any iconic red, white and blue cans, or any other hint of product-pushing from the food and beverage conglomerate. What you will see are exposed brick walls, a shiny back bar and cocktail infusion area, copper accents, hard wood floors, a space for impromptu pop-up performances and an illuminated square sculpture hanging from the ceiling.
The cocktails and elixirs are some of the best we’ve ever had. Alex Ott is Kola House’s sensory ringmaster — the beverage magician, if you will. Upon reading his bio you’ll read the following about his skills which, “combine sensory dining/drinking psychology with his unique knowledge of hangover preventative elixirs, alcoholic and non-alcoholic functional and disease preventative beverages, nootropics, dietary supplements as well as deep space travel and fine fragrance.” If you’re a little confused as to what that actually means, we can help you. The drinks are out-of-this-world.
The intergalactic peace is described as “a stunning and memory evoking spectacle of beverage induced interconnectedness.” This cocktail comes in a glass dome which houses campfire smells of woods, tobacco, and sandalwood, and inside this dome of fragrance is your cocktail of spiced cognac/rum, tobacco infused honey, sandalwood, vanilla, pear and lime. Before you imbibe, you can inhale the incredible mix of smells which enhances the entire drinking experience.
If you’re looking for something calming, get the Mind & body, which is described as a “resort like elixir with mood regulating and anti-inflammatory properties.” Think: mild bitters, white cranberry, levigated pearl garnished with a delightful spruce pillow of forest scents. Absolutely lovely.
Bottom line: make sure to get some cocktails.
On the food side, Kola House’s Executive Chef, Jon Feshan draws from his Persian heritage to create New American cuisine that highlights purity of flavor and freshness of the ingredients used.
We ordered a nice selection of dishes which began with a fresh fig toast with sweet, crunchy maple-glazed hazelnuts and cheese; the unique wild salmon tartare which came atop crispy sticky rice, and a scallion crème fraiche; and the very filling pork shoulder carnitas which was seasoned with a kola spice rub served with warm tortillas.
To some, that may sound like a full meal. Not for us. We continued the feast with a light dish of braised beets with lemon yogurt, pistachio granola and chunks of pickled strawberry. The grand finally was the roasted & fried chicken with collard greens and a side of house-made Fresno hot sauce butter. Similar to a buffalo sauce on steroids. The roasted chicken was juicy, while the fried chicken had a satisfying crunchy coating surround the also tender meat. This dish is meant to be shared and is a must-try for lovers of buffalo chicken wings.
For dessert we recommend the s’mores bowl – no need for explanation on that decision. It’s indulgently sweet.