Monday, May 16, 2005

Back At It Again

Well, I can’t afford to rest on my laurels for too long. I took Sunday off after the celebration at The Gate on Saturday, and a mighty fine time I did have.

501) Heartland Brewery

This is, I believe, the newest of the Heartland Brewery’s to open up. It took over the space previously occupied by Houlihans in the Empire State Building. I can’t say that I am too sorry to see Houlihan’s go, although they used to make a decent frozen margarita. For those you who keep up with this blog you probably know my feelings about T.G.I. Fridays, and they, along with Houlihans, are part of the Riese Organization that also owns, among other things, Pizza Hut, KFC, Nathan's, Dunkin' Donuts and Charley O's. It is kind of funny that without even realizing that Charley O’s was part of this group I had given it a knock because of the bartenders statement that if you didn’t use margarita mix you couldn’t make a margarita and how they had no fresh lime juice on hand even though the menu said they used it in their margaritas along with mix. I am beginning to wonder if Heartland Brewery, as it expands, isn’t about to join the group as well. I hope not. But now that they have five locations and no longer brew their beer on premises (although they still refer to themselves as a brewpub call their establishments Heartland Brewery) it is moving in that direction.

This place has been totally redone since Heartland took it over and has seating for over 500 people now, at least 75 upstairs and the sign says a maximum capacity of 428 downstairs. The upstairs manages to retain a comfortable, if somewhat fancy, pub feel to it. The upstairs bar is decent sized, but not that big. It has a dark wood top and a wood and dark olive leather front. Brass headed tacks border the large leather panels. It has a black bar rail. The bar chairs are red with red leather seats and fronts. Black shelves, coolers (some with glass doors) behind the bar are topped with a black and white marble ledge. Above that are glass backed shelves holding the liquor. There is a television above the middle shelf and pictures of horses and a bull flanking the shelves, two on each side. Overhead lighting is a combination of track spots behind the bar and large overhead light fixtures rimmed with lots of small bulbs hanging from the ceiling elsewhere. Also a lot of track lighting with lights that you see illuminating stages. There are also brick columns circled with candle-like lights. The floor around the bar is a marble-like and wooden floors elsewhere. Pictures on the walls evoke kind of a 1950’s Midwestern feel that is typical of all of Heartland’s locations.

The large downstairs area had a separate bar and although it refers to itself as a beer-hall it is set up more like a restaurant with booths and tables. I just don’t see an ompah band, busty waitresses, and carousers down here.

Generally speaking their beers are quite good, but watch the prices. Although the standard beers go for a not totally unreasonable $6 a pint, the beer that I had, a seasonal, was $6 for much less than a pint. Also, the seasonal beers did not have the prices posted in the menu or anywhere else that I could see. What I did spot, in small print at the bottom of the menu, was the much hated “18% gratuity may be added for parties of 6 or more.” That alone is enough to prevent me from ever showing up here with a crowd of people.

I had a Mother’s Milk Maibock and it was quite good.

502) Foley’s

From newly built to look old to authentically old. This place is at 18 West 33rd St, between 5th & 6th Avenue, just a short stroll from Heartland. This place has a large wooden bar with a wooden foot rest and wooden bar chairs. Old cabinetry behind the bar has shelves for glasses underneath along with a few coolers with wooden doors. Mirrors and cabinets with glass doors on each end are on the upper level. The cabinet at my end of the bar was jammed with sports related books. Above the mirrors the wall is lined with shirts for, to me at least, obscure teams. The walls are packed with sports memorabilia including autographed baseballs and bats, pictures and newspaper articles, and plenty of caps. The back wall has a stained glass mural but I couldn’t make out what it was supposed to be. Maybe just a design of some sort. The floor is a decorative patterned mosaic. Old chandelier type lamps hang from the ceiling. A large model of a donkey pulling a coal cart hangs from the ceiling. The walls here are covered with much more memorabilia than Heartland’s, but this stuff is the real deal. Be sure to check out the men’s room. The porcelain urinals are large enough to shower in, although your feet might get a bit cold from the ice. The doors to the stalls are wood and stained glass.

I had a Foley’s Ale

503) Jack Demsey’s

Just down the street at 36 West 33rd Street is this place and note the missing “p: in the name. You can make a lot of money betting people there is no Jack Dempsey’s bar in New York. I suspect they had to drop the “p” to avoid some kind of copyright infringement because there is plenty of boxing memorabilia in here. There is a big wooden bar with a small hood at the end by the door. Wooden bar chairs have oxblood leather seats fastened by brass headed tacks. The entryway is recessed from the street and there is a narrow space to the side with a mural of what looks to be the Dempsey (with a “p”) Tunney fight. There is a stone fireplace in the back dining area. Ornate arched woodwork frames mirrors behind the bar and there are the usual tiered shelves holding the liquor. Several televisions were showing classic boxing matches, all featuring Ali on this particular day. There are neat booths behind the bar chairs, wood with wrought-iron trim and cloth brocade cushions.

There was a large Henrik Larrson banner hanging behind the bar, but I don’t know who he is. The ceilings are rose colored as are the walls above dark wooden paneling. The floors are flagstone-like tiles and there is a lot of stone trim on the walls. The bathrooms here have speak-easy type windows in the doors so you can decide whether or not to let in whoever is banging on the door.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic.

After a sprint to the first 500 bars I think I can afford to slow down the pace a bit so hitting only three a day seems reasonable. That makes 503 for the year with 493 left to go.


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Lennard said...

Hi there, barguy.

I heard about your blog quite some time ago, but only got into reading it a couple of weeks ago, so i have a bit of catching up to do. Great stories though.

Henrik larsson is a swedish football(soccer)player. He played for Feyenoord Rotterdam and Celtic Glasgow and now plays for FC Barcelona in Spain. Perhaps there are irish soccerfans that frequent this bar and support Celtic Glasgow.


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