Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Failed Mission

Well, the day wasn’t a failure, I just failed at what I set out to do. I was going to go to the Chelsea Brewing Company, one of the few places in New York that actually brews their own beer and serves it on the premises. I took the subway to 14th Street and 7th Avenue and headed toward the Hudson River but didn’t even make it to 8th Avenue before I hit five bars. Ah, you have to love Manhattan.

593) Gavroche

A small bar and restaurant at 212 West 14th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue. It has a dark wood bar with a brass rail and seven wooden bar chairs. There is a large wood framed mirror behind the bar that is flanked by empty wine racks. Wooden tiered shelves held the liquor. There are old wood floors and pale yellow walls. The ceiling is white tin and there are old fashioned lights hanging from it on the bar side of the room and small track spot lights on the other side. The street side sports wood framed windows and a glass paneled door. Little tables are covered with white tablecloths with colorful buckets holding the white cloth napkins sitting on top. There are maroon cushioned booth like seats along the brick wall opposite the bar. There are lots of interesting paintings on the wall done in a somewhat primitive style. They are of street parades, a snow covered boat yard, landscapes and waterscapes. They look like they are set in the fifties but they were recently done by Erich J. Preis. There is a large chalkboard up front announcing the menu for July 14th, Bastille Day.

I had a bottle of Guinness.

I walked by a place that looked interesting, The Cabin, and saw people in it so I walked in and ordered a drink. Alas, even though the bar was fully stocked it was going out of business and the people inside were prospective buyers and the current owner. The owner said I would have to buy the whole place to get a drink.

There were two other bars, one on either side of this one, that were more obviously out of business. The neighborhood, it is a changing.

594) Ipanema

Just down a few doors was this somewhat interesting but not too friendly place. I think it was because the bartender, a very lovely lass, was new and had a limited command of the English language. I ordered a gin and tonic and although the bottles of tonic were sitting right in front of her and the bottles of gin were right behind her she had no idea how to go about making it. Now that is poor. When I tried to explain what I wanted she wouldn’t, or couldn’t, listen to me and had to have the manager come over and show her how to make the drink. I suspect she was there more for her looks than her bartending prowess. When someone from the back came to the bar and ordered a beer in Spanish she had no problem however. Oh well, what can you do. Then when I asked if I could take her picture, even though the manager said it was okay, she said no because she had to clear it with her “boss.” Suddenly her English became a bit better. I am not sure who her “boss” is but I wasn’t about to press the point.

Not wanting to deprive anyone of pictures of good looking bartenders, I stole these from a website. Apparently not all of the bartenders who work here are camera shy.

There is a bar up front and another one in the back where there is a pool table and a couple of televisions. The place is quite dark with blue florescent lights on the wall opposite the bar and blue and red lights behind the bar. Little beaded shaded track lights hung over the bar. It was quite an interesting place but I didn’t feel real comfortable there after my initial exchange with the bartender so I downed my drink fairly quickly and left.

I had a gin and tonic.

595) McKenna’s

Across the street was a much more comfortable, for me at least, bar. More of your standard dive bar but in a nice kind of way. It has a tin topped wooden bar with a brass rail and wooden bar stools. Old wood floor and nice stained glass shaded lights over the bar. Dark green walls and comfortable looking maroon booths. The ceiling is ornate patterned tin with track lighting. There is old wooden shelving and mirrors behind the bar. Actually, there are mirrors all over the walls, kind of an interesting effect. Surprisingly, they were out of Dewar’s though. No matter, the bartender Lindsay was pleasant so we chatted a bit. And she let me take her picture.

I had a shot of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and a water back.

596) Tequila’s Bar & Grill

Just next door is this interesting place that has the real feel of Mexico to it. Even the televisions were playing Mexican stations. A fairly small L shaped light wood bar sits in the back. It has a brass rail and dark wood bar chairs with dark green seats. I will not be able to do justice to this place because there is so much going on. Flamingo pink walls with brick archways separating the small dining area from the bar. A few tables up front as well. A string of small lights that hang over the bar are shaped like tequila bottles and margarita glasses. Bar Man wants a string like this for his Christmas tree.

I am probably going to get in trouble for this, I asked the bartender her name and wrote it down somewhere, but now I can't find it. Oh well, she said she was going back to Mexico for three months so maybe she won't see this.

Green and yellow piñatas in the shape of tequila bottles hang from the ceiling along with several colorful papier-mâché parrots sitting on perches. There are lots of pictures of Mexicans of note and regular customers hanging on the walls along with sombreros, and Aztec wall hangings. It has just about everything you have ever seen for sale in Mexico hanging on the walls or sitting on shelves. Great picture of a nude kneeling woman holding a bouquet of very large lilies.

Not wanting to risk an NC17 rating I will not document the thoughts that the picture elicited, and luckily the Mysterious Chinese Woman wasn’t there to monitor them. This place was a real hoot and it will be revisited when time permits, quite possibly for a meal. There was quite a lively crowd that got bigger at 4:00 P.M. when McKenna’s closed for a private party.

I had a decent, but not great, margarita, up with a salted rim.

597) Flannery’s

This place, just a bit further down the street and closer to 7th Avenue, is a serious dart bar. All kinds of awards hanging on the wall indicate the prowess of their teams. They have three dartboards positioned for competition. This is another old dive bar, and believe me, I was here before it was spiffed up. You either reinvent yourself or go out of business like the three places across the street. They had a nice selection of cheese doodles and chips on the bar. A bunch of college kids came in who were even more out of place then me in my somewhat garish attire. I may stop dressing like I am still in Mexico when I begin to hit the more serious bars. I look way too much like a tourist.

The place had a very nice bar, dark wood, black foot rest, somewhat sticky from the humidity, and metal and plastic bar chairs. Nice looking chandelier-like lights hang over the bar and below the ceiling fans. There is some sports memorabilia on the wall opposite the bar. Booths in the back have pedestals at the ends that are topped with what look like converted gas lamps. An altogether cool place that has changed a lot from the days when people used to nod off at the bar and the Bailey’s Irish Cream poured in clumps (Marianne, I am sure you remember). Now it is a decent, but not too decent, place.

The college kids were looking for a pool table so I sent them over to Ipanema, maybe they will have better luck then me.

I had a Dewar’s and soda and walked the very short distance to the subway home.

A productive day, just not in the way I had planned. Tomorrow I will make it to the Chelsea Brewery, I promise. Five bars for the day, 597 for the year, and 403 left to go.


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Flannery's is great! My first visit here BTW. Lots of fun.

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