A photographer for something akin to Associated Press, but concentrating more in international publications (European Pressphoto Agency) wanted to meet me today to snap some pictures. I agreed to meet him at Blaggard’s but I arrived a bit before the appointed hour and headed across the street to:
534) Havana NY
A bit of Cuba at 27 West 38th Street, should not be missed if you are in the mood for a fairly authentic, I imagine, Cuban experience. It has a small wooden bar up front with a brass rail and wood bar chairs with dark green seats. Cuban music cheerfully playing in the background. There are mirror backed shelves behind the bar above coolers with wooden doors that had polished stainless steels handles and hinges. Following the lead of Dave Barry, may I say that Handles and Hinges would make a great name for a country western group. But I digress. There is a plastic guitar, not a real one, hanging above the shelving. Little lights with orange glass shades hang over the bar.
There are pale yellow walls with a band of rose just below the ceiling. Lot’s of pictures of Havana streets featuring the old American cars that seem to be so prevalent there. There is also a poster advertising the allure of Cuban beaches, or at least what you may find on a Cuban beach, if you were lucky. The floors are tan marble-like tile. A row of small tables with chairs line the wall behind the bar chairs. The bar and most of the restaurant is a few steps below street level and just before you hit the stairs there is a small dining enclave with three tables right by the street level window. There is a small dining room in the back with brightly decorative Cuban style paintings on the wall. Although it wasn’t quite noon the place was packed and everyone really seemed to be enjoying their food. The place smelled great as well so I will probably come back again one day for lunch.
I had a Mojito, well made, relatively inexpensive for Manhattan ($7.00) and most refreshing.
To be redundant, this place is right across the street from Havana NY at 8 West 38th Street. They also have two other nearby locations that I will be scouting out, maybe tomorrow, so don’t get upset if you see multiple entries for what looks to be the same place. There is a long, dark wood bar with the requisite brass rail and plain brown bar chairs. This, again, is one of the elegant Irish pubs. Lots of brick and dark red walls. Very nice cabinetry behind the bar that holds liquor and all sorts of other knick knacks. The ceiling is nice brown painted patterned tin or a very good reproduction. The floor was a combination of polished wood and green and white tile. There are very nice old-fashioned looking lights that were an ornate combination of marbled glass and brass that hang from the ceiling by chains. There is really neat looking artwork hanging on the walls including at least one tasteful nude. My favorite was of a Frankenstein’s monster looking guy wearing headphones.
The bartender was very accommodating but a bit miffed because this was one of the places that MSNBC had planned on filming in yesterday and they called him to make appropriate arrangements. When they decided to film in O’Reilly’s instead they didn’t notify him so he was a bit put out, and understandably so. Once I convinced him that I wasn’t the one who called and then didn’t call back he became quite pleasant and insisted on buying my beers.
One thing that I have noticed is that whenever I show up and there is a reporter, film crew, or photographer there is always somebody who wants to get in the shot. I would like to think they just want to talk to me, but somehow I know that isn’t the case. But then again, who wouldn’t want to be in a story about the Bar Man; other than the Mysterious Chinese Woman, that is. And even she succumbs to the allure of short-lived fame on occasion.
This place also had Grolsch on draft so I had one and then another when the bartender set it down in front of me. It would have been most impolite to turn it down.
Heading back towards Penn Station to catch a subway home I passed this more typical Irish pub at 207 Madison Avenue, between 39th and 40th Streets. It is a bit dark, narrow, and fairly deep. There is a long dark wood bar with a foot ledge. Dark brown bar chairs with dark brown vinyl seats. Kind of a generic linoleum-like tiled floor with some dark brown and well worn carpet pads up front. The overhang above the bar sports recessed dim lights covered with dimpled yellow plastic rectangles. The front of the overhang has old sports pictures and newspaper pages such as the one proclaiming 1985-1986 Celtics championship.
There are glass shelves in front of mirrors that run the length of the bar. These hold glasses and paraphernalia such as mugs, shot glasses, and whatever. Tiered shelves below hold the liquor. A narrow ledge above the mirrors hold even more knick knacks. An ornery looking ceramic pig sits behind the bar and squints out at the customers. The walls are kind of pink and there were a number of televisions, most showing some woman’s softball game. There was a merry crowd of older gentlemen sitting at one end of the bar singing ditties. Kind of my kind of place. I must memorize some ditties.
I had a Guinness and headed on home.
Moving along with three for the day and 536 for the year leaving 464 left to go. I think I am going to eliminate this line in future posts because it is kind of just restating the obvious. I don’t know why I started including it in the first place.