Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Another Short Stroll

I headed back to Madison Square Garden and then just took a short stroll west on 33rd. I didn’t have to stroll far because I found four bars within the space of a block. Three of them were right next to each other, including one that just opened a few weeks ago.

496) Hickey’s

A no-frills Irish bar at 139 West 33rd. It is very narrow and fairly deep with a long wooden bar and a black foot rest. Metal bar stools with red vinyl seats (kind of like what you might find at a soda fountain). The paneled wall behind the bar is lined with mirrors behind tiered shelves holding the liquor. Above the mirrors are pictures of old-time boxers. Small green Christmas lights are strung over the mirrors. The wall behind the bar stools is also paneled and lined with mirrors. There is a narrow ledge under the mirrors with a couple of stools sitting by it. A place to sit, or stand, and set your drink. There are a very few tables in the back. Fans with light fixtures hang from the ceiling. The floor is light tan and red square tiles. A lot of beer cases, empties, were stacked up front.

I had a bottle of Guinness.

497) Blarney Rock

Right next door was the Blarney Rock, not to be confused with the Blarney Stone (or maybe you are supposed to confuse them) This is kind of a bigger version of Hickey’s. In fact, the bar stools are exactly the same and the bar is similar too. But then most bars in Irish bars are kind of similar. Although there are mirrors behind the bar you can hardly see them because they are hidden by bottles, pictures, patches and decals. The space between the mirrors and the ceiling has seven televisions, a few more pictures, and bank notes from various countries in various denominations. Track lighting over the bar has little spotlights directed at the wall behind the bar. There is a small area in the back with about eight small tables with green and white checked tablecloths. Green and yellow shaded lights hang from the ceiling back there and there are also mirrors and neon beer signs hanging on the wall. There are tables against the wall behind the bar stools and two large shiny blackboards with the specials written on them. There were a lot of cases of empties in the front of this place too. It must be collection day.

498) Stout NYC.

Right next door, you can never have too many, is this new place. The bartender said it opened three days before Harrington’s. The bar has a shiny oxblood colored plastic-like top and a rough dark-wood plank front with a wide metal band running its length. A metal bar rail, but not brass. There is a station for real ales but none were currently available. The bartender said maybe by the end of the week.

The wall behind the bar is paneled with the same rough wood as the front of the bar. There are two banks of beer spigots mounted on bright copper panels behind the bar as well as lit up tiered shelves of liquor and a small cooler holding bottled beers with wine bottles on top. The wall towards the left side of the bar is flagstone and has a large set of glass shelves holding bottles of scotch. There are four large flat screen televisions behind the bar separated by chalk boards listing beers, specials, and wines by the glass. Above that is a catwalk with a red wall above it and the words Stout NYC painted on it in faded yellow letters.

The wall behind the wooden bar stools is brick and has signs for Jameson Irish Whiskey and Murphy’s Stout painted on it in kind of an old-fashioned style. Carriage house style lights are mounted on the pillars that run down the center of the place and kind of unusual looking lights are mounted above the tables lining the brick wall. There are two levels of dining.

There is an impressive selection of draft beers and a real impressive selection of bottled stouts, about 25 of them, and other beers from around the world, another 75 or so. A place worth visiting and one that I will return to.

I had a draft Belhaven.

499) Joe O’s

I had to go all the way across the street for this one. A big wrap-around bar with a copper top and a wood front with copper panels. The bar chairs have kind of chocolate brown colored vinyl seats. Coolers and cupboards with gray doors are were behind my side of the bar. Mirrors with tiered shelves of liquor are above the coolers. Brass beer stations are mounted on the bar and serve an interesting selection of beers. Pith hat shaped glass and dark metal lights hang from an overhang above the bar. Light lemon colored walls and ceiling. Metal racks above the bar hold an assortment of glasses. The floor is light wood. There is an elevated dining area about two step up from bar level. The dining area is separated from the bar area by a wood and glass partition. High round tables with tall chairs are behind the bar stools in the lower level. A round wood-framed Smithwick’s Ale sign is behind the two mirrors behind the bar. This is a nice looking place and will probably face some still competition from Stout NYC, which looked to be doing a bit better business today.

I had a draft Belhaven.

Well, that is 499 bars for the year so I am primed for number 500 on Saturday. I hope to see many of you at The Gate.