Monday, April 11, 2005

Manhattans in Manhattan

Serious note to myself, stick with beer or mixed drinks. Manhattans are not appropriate quest drinks considering how big they make them in this town. I hit the five bars I was aiming to hit, but just barely.

There is a little almost triangular block that has two very different bars on it. The base of the block is West 13th. The cut-off top is West 14th. The sides are Hudson and 9th Avenue. If you go south another block 9th Avenue angles to the east and becomes Greenwich Street, not to be confused with Greenwich Avenue. Also, be on the look-out for Little West 12th, a two-and-a-half block stretch that is kind of an extension of West 12th, except West 12th stops at Greenwich Avenue. Confused yet, try walking around in this area.

Anyway, I digress.

383) The Barbeque Pit

At the fat, or West 13th end is The Barbeque Pit. This is one of the old places that are still left in this neighborhood, kind of the border between Greenwich Village and The Meatpacking District, that is going upscale. This place takes up the whole width of the block but the door is on the 9th Avenue side. There are two rooms with a pool table and a fooseball table in the back room with a few tables and chairs and a television. The short hallway between the two rooms have a couple of large black-and-white photographs of hanging meat. Yummy.

The bar is an old wooden affair that has seen better days but fits in perfectly. The barstools are plain metal with black vinyl seats. There is all kind of interesting stuff on the walls including some very large fish. One is flourescent green and the silver one behind the bar is chugging a Budweiser. There are also numerous boars-heads mounted on the wall. A few hunting knives and an old pistol and rifle are mounted behind the bar. A lot of police patches behind the bar as well. There is a large metal-lined wooden ice-chest filled with ice and beer. A tiered shelf above the chest hold the liquor. Above that shelf is a narrow shelf draped with red pepper-lights and a string of plastic pig-lights. There are a few bottles on the shelf as well as some ceramic pigs, two of whom are doing it doggy-style. There is also a television mounted on the wall at one end of the bar.

Windows line the three sides of the place that are on the street but large flags hang from the top of most of them so the place is suitably dark. A pleasant enough place and a bit of a welcome change from all of the newer "hipper" places that have opened up recently.

I had a Red Hook ESB Amber Ale.

384) Venta

At the other end of this block, and at the other end of the spectrum, is this upscale bar and restaurant. The bar has an opaque lucite top lit from underneath with soft-purple lights. The front of the bar is black except for a panel around the bottom that is also lucite and lit the same way as the bar. The back of the bar is lit with soft-purple lights as well. There are also three waist-high dividers that seperate the bar area from the fairly elegant, triangular dining area and these divider are black and purple-lit lucite as well.

There are floor-to-ceiling windows on the two long sides that have light-green gauze-like curtains that were pulled back so the place was well lit. There are numerous white cube lights mounted in a regular pattern on the ceiling. There are large tiles on the floor around the bar and wooden flooring in the dining area. A nice outdoor sitting area is on Hudson, which is cobble-stoned at this point.

I had a gin and tonic, very well made.

385) Gaslight Lounge

Walking in here is like stepping back in time and into someone's parlor. A definite early 1940's feel. It is located on 9th and West 14th. A long wooden bar with a ledge for your foot. Plain wooden bar-stools. Wood paneling on the wall behind the bar with tiered shelves holding the liquor. Three nicely framed mirrors hang behind the bar along with two carriage lanterns with red bulbs. A minature London, or old New York, style street lamp sits on one end of the bar and an old living room lamp sits on the other end. Two walls have floor to ceiling windows with lace curtains framed by wine-red velvet-like drapes. The remaining wall is kind of a distressed pea-sou[ green and has a small coal stove. Two black and white portrait-like photos of an elderly man and a woman hang on either side of a large mirror with a fancy frame.

There a lots of plush old-fashioned chairs and sofas with end tables. There are nice old wooden floors, but they should really clean off the gum. I am not sure what this place used to be before it became a bar, but I have never seen so much old gum on the floor of a place before. There were nice over-head fans with lights.

I had a well-made Maker's Mark Manhattan.

386) Markt

A most interesting place on the corner of West 14th and 9th. A very long bar, but broken into three sections. One section has oysters on ice and a rack for glasses. The tops of the bars are a rust-and-white marble with a decoratative tin-like edging. There is a thick brass rail, but it is about six inches from the top of the bar and sticks out about two inches. I have no idea what function this serves. There is a ledge with a black and tan pattern for you to rest your foot. The bar-stools are wood with patterned wood stained tops with silver studs all around. The back of the bar looks like an old pharmacist shop with banks of small wooden drawers and shelves. Hanging over the bar are white globe lights that look like they could have been hanging in an old school-room somewhere. Wood framed windows on two sides and lots of built in bench style seating. Nice wood floors with no gum. There were some large sprays of purple flowers placed here and there.

I had a draft Julius Echter Hefe-weissbier.

387) Old Homestead

This place has been around since 1868, believe it or not. They serve a $40 hamburger and I once ordered their $100 Kobe steak and sent it back because it was tough. I thought it was a one-off experience but the New York Times reviewed this place and had the same opinion of the Kobe steak. Their other steaks are good, and the prices are typical for a New York steakhouse, very high. The must be doing something right though to have lasted this long in what used to be a not very desirable location. Just look for the big cow on the awning as you mosey down 9th avenue and you cant miss it. It is located at 56 9th Avenue, between 14th and 15th.

It has a nice white-marble topped bar and dome shaped stained-glass lights hang over it. The bar has a padded leather front to it and there were lit candles sitting on top. The bar-stools had green and gold brocaded seats. Over all there is a lot of dark wood and it pretty much has a typical steakhouse look to it. I prefer Sparks, but that is just a personal opinion. The best steak is still probably the one they serve at Peter Luger's.

I had another Maker's Mark Manhattan, excellently made.

388) Art Bar

I really was just going to go home after my last manhattan but I passed by this place, on 8th Avenue between Horatio and Jane, and felt like a plain old beer, and the use of a restroom. As you would expect, there is a lot of art hanging on the walls. Also a fireplace and a back room with couches and drapes. The couches looked very inviting. This is supposed to be a gay bar, but seeing as how I was the only one in the place I wouldn't know, although I do kind of like myself. Last year the Free Press rated it as the best gay hangout in town. It also got rated best people-watching bar and bar with the best bathroom wisdom.

My had was fuzzy so I just used their very interesting bathroom and sucked down a beer.

I had a draft Jenlain.

Staggering my way to the half-way mark (don't forget to let me know your ideas, right now it looks like it will be at The Gate) at 388 with 612 left to go.


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