This July, a new bar and restaurant, Elm City Social, opened its doors at 266 College St.
The venue was previously home to tapas bar Briq, which had occupied the space since April 2013. Executive Chef and owner John Brennan said that Elm City Social aims to create a lively social environment that can cater to students and residents alike. The chef added that he is hoping to create a space that embodies New Haven’s deep historical roots and up-and-coming developments.
“We wanted a little bit of that 1920s speakeasy feel, but at the same time we wanted to take the rich history of New Haven and colonial New England and merge that with more modern aspects of the city,” Brennan said.
This thematic appreciation for New Haven as a city is brought to life on the very ceiling of the bar, which is covered in a sketched street map of the downtown area.
According to its founders, Elm City Social is committed to fostering friendships within the space. Tuesday nights are reserved for a bar-wide trivia extravaganza, while Thursdays at Elm City Social are “Thursdays Against Humanity”, where bar-goers can participate in the group party game “Cards Against Humanity.”
Ryan Howard, the bar’s managing partner, who has worked at the bar and restaurant since its beginning a few months ago, described his vision for Elm City Social as a down-to-earth, authentic and “unpretentious” watering hole for a diverse group of community members.
“Other places have a certain swagger about them, but we just want to be inviting to everyone,” Howard added.
But many Yale students interviewed said they were unaware of Elm City Social, while those who had attended found the drink prices to be somewhat expensive.
Of 48 undergraduates, only two said that Elm City Social is their preferred nighttime bar or venue. Twenty-five students instead cited Box 63 as their favorite New Haven spot.
Although Elm City Social’s cocktails, which cost between $10 and $15, are on the pricier side, the new restaurant makes up for its lack of affordability with fun and creativity.
The Ramos Gin Fizz, $13, which was first served by Henry Ramos in the 18th century, requires five minutes of vigorous shaking before being served. More often than not, the bartender will send the Ramos shaker down the bar to get clients actively involved in the creation of their drink, according to Howard. In addition to these drinks, menu offerings include farm bird lollipops, zucchini chips and chicken and waffles — one of the chef’s top recommendations.
Compared to the lively scene of Elm City Social, Harvest Wine Bar and Restaurant focuses less on drinks and has a more subdued atmosphere, according to Harvest Manager Wilson Siguenza. Harvest chef Gus Christman added that he has not had time to visit the new College Street establishment.
Elm City Social is open Monday through Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.