On a recent Thursday evening, the place to be, if you were a ravenous music lover, was unquestionably Port Sa’id.
In a cavernous, 4,000-square-foot space on Hudson and King Streets in Hudson Square—the New York neighborhood bounded by West Village, SoHo and Tribeca—the city’s most fashionably in-the-know had gathered, while a DJ manning the Technics 1200 mk7s kept spirits high with an exotic, world music-tinged soundtrack. The lighting was dramatically low and the energy had that anything-can-happen electricity of a fantastic night out.
Much of that energy was emanating from the open kitchen, where a line of unflappable cooks worked their magic with Eastern Mediterranean flavors.
In recent months, Hudson Square has evolved into something of a musical destination. It is home to Reservoir Media, the first female-founded and led, publicly traded independent music company in the United States; SOBs (Sounds of Brazil), a legendary live music venue; Duotone, a bespoke music and sound production company; and audio post-production specialists Wave Studios. Soon, it will welcome the creative music company Arcade Songs.
Port Sa’id fits right in with that company: a restaurant with an atmosphere and soundtrack worthy of a downtown nightclub.
“Port Sa’id guests should expect an elevated sound experience,” said Zack Bar, founder of Port Sa’id and co-founder of the Teder group. Of the soundtrack, Bar said, “There is no typical night per se; the music varies nightly depending on the selector. However, our main focus and objective is to showcase eclecticism, to share rare music from all over the world, and to give selectors and DJs an outlet to present music they typically couldn’t play to audiences elsewhere.”
Port Sa’id’s music library also reflects that mission. “Our 1,200+ collection contains a wide variety of music from around the globe, from classic straight-ahead jazz to 70’s afrobeat and highlife, 90s hip-hop staples to obscure Indian disco.”
Port Sa’id’s guest selectors range from local up-and-coming DJs to internationally known talent—recent selectors include Donna Leake, Kristine Barilli and legendary NYC record store Jammyland. “The only requirement for selectors here is to have a deep passion for music and the need to share it,” said Bar.
When it comes to the philosophy of cuisine at Port Sa’id, it’s all about making exemplary use of simple ingredients. A case in point: the burning potato, bursting with crème fraîche and bedecked with cracked black pepper and horseradish snow. Similarly, there’s nothing ostentatious about the succulent lamb kebab, the golden calamari (served in a bag) or the fluffy challah and hummus gargarim—the textures and flavors of these dishes are as exquisite as they are direct.
Then there’s the bruschetta, a red blanket of Shushka atop melt-in-your-mouth ricotta that’s made on the premises. It’s about as immediate and satisfying as rock’n’roll.
Bar is enthusiastic not just about the musical mecca of Hudson Square, but the musical destinations beyond its borders. Port Sa’id is “just a stone’s throw away from many of the iconic jazz clubs in the West Village, such as the Village Vanguard, Smalls, Blue Note, as well as being located directly next door to the historic and legendary Paradise Garage. Our street contains a vast musical legacy, and we’re honored to be here and carry on Larry Levan’s torch in some way.”
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