Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Union Square and Around

Another cold day that actually saw a wee bit of snow later on in the afternoon. I headed back again to my old stomping grounds, this time the Union Square area, but ended up going a bit further astray on the way home.

52) Coffee Shop Bar

This place once upon a time long ago was a real coffee shop. It is on the corner of Union Park West and 16th Street. When Union Square moved from being a real drug dealers paradise (it was totally fenced off and patrolled by mounted cops for two years) to an upscale haven the Coffee Shop went with the trend. The place has a nice bar up front with a glassed in area behind it with tables. Most people in there were eating (it was about noon) but there were a few having drinks like me. There is also a neat downstairs lounge area that comes alive at night.

When you first walk in there is a large curvey bar/counter where you can either order food, coffee or a drink.

I had a draft Yuengling Lager to get my day started on the right foot.

53) Heartland Brewery

Across the street from the Coffee Shop Bar and still on Union Park West This place used to be a real brew-pub and made their beer on the premises. They expanded to three locations and now their beer is made off-site and the brewing equipment is for show only. The quality of the beer has, in my opinion, slipped a bit. Needless to say the owners do not agree.

The decor in this place is kind of rural midwestern (check out the murals above the bar).

I had a Smiling Pumpkin Ale and it tasted a bit funky to me. Just my opinion, but I have drunk a lot of beer in my day. Suffice it to say I would not order it a second time.

54) Republic

Right next door to Heartland and kind of a large, Asian style place. A bit austere and loud. They have a decent menu and their soups are especially good.

I had a hot saki.

55) Havana Central

This place was around the corner and down a bit on 17th Street. There was a small bar in the front and booths in the back. More of a lunch place than anything else. No bartender so I had to flag down a waitress to get a drink. She seemed a bit put-off by it. Probably won't be going back here again unless I want a sandwich or something.

Rum and coke.

56) Basta Pasta

I was heading down 17th toward 6th to catch a subway back home and passed this place. It is fairly small with a small bar in front. It smelled good and their was an open kitchen just to the right of the bar. Italian food on the menu. The wait staff, mostly Asian, was very pleasant. The kitchen staff looked to be all Italian. Interesting pictures above the bar.

I had a 2001 Salviano Turla (a red wine) that was very good.

I got on the subway intending to go home but fate stepped in and dealt me an opportunistic hand. The subway stopped at Houston (pronounced HOW STUN) and I needed to change trains to continue on home to Brooklyn. I decided to pop above ground to see what was going on in this neighborhood during this time of day (way early by most standards).

57) Lucien

A very nice French restaurant with a very small, 4 stool, bar in front. A little kitchen in full view and about 8 tables that I could see. There might have been more somewhere else, but out of my sight.

I had a 2001 Cafe de Rhone (a red wine).

58) Lil' Frankies

This place, the only other place open on either side of the street without going more than a block from the subway, really wasn't that lil'. It was actually quite large.

I had an espresso and sambuca.

59) TGIFs

After getting off the subway in Brooklyn I passed by this place on the way home and it was kind of like shooting a fish in a barrel. This place used to be a very nice restaurant called Gage and Tollers. The owner got into some legal difficulties (can you say mobbed up) and ended up selling the place to TGIFs which then immediately began to disregard the land-marked status of the old place and make changes in violation of the building codes. They were stopped before they could do too much damage.

I had a Dewars and soda and was charged $9.78 which, when you add in the tax that everyplace else just counts as part of the price of the drink, made it a cool $10.50. Now this is the most expensive drink, by far, that I have had to date on my journey, and in a TGIFs, of all places. Needless to say I wouldn't go back there again if I was dragged kicking and screaming.

Well, beating the dead horse, I now have 941 bars left to hit.


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