Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Bitter, But In A Good Way, Day

I had made up my mind to get to the Flatiron Lounge today and, as you will see, I was indeed successful. However, as you might expect, I took the long way around.

613) Blue Water Grill

This is a large seafood restaurant with a fairly small bar with a copper-clad top and a wood paneled front and a narrow bar rail. Dark wood bar chairs have plush red seats and backs with ornamental brass tack heads. A large and somewhat scary looking plant with enormous green leaves and tentacles coming out the top sat at one end of the bar. I kept inching away. Two large copper lighting fixtures hang above the bar. They look a bit like inverted twenty-legged spiders with little red shaded lamps on each foot. Similar, but much smaller fixtures hang on the walls. There are tiered glass shelves behind the bar that hold their decent liquor selection. The bar sits in the middle of the room but is only open on one side. Large dining areas upstairs and downstairs and the place was packed with a late lunch crowd. This is a very well known seafood restaurant that consistently gets great reviews. I have eaten here in the past and the reviews are, indeed, accurate.

It is located across from Union Square Park at 31 Union Square and the space is a converted bank that used to be the Metropolitan Jazz Club. They still have jazz downstairs. It is amazing how much this area has changed over the years. There are all kinds of great restaurants in the area and even one in the park itself (see my review of Luna Park). When you consider that Union Square Park was once so dangerous you wouldn’t even walk through it in the daytime, the turnaround is dramatic. There was a period of about two years when the park was totally fenced in and patrolled by mounted police. When Zeckendorf Towers opened in 1987 the whole neighborhood changed and, unless you were a drug dealer, hooker, or customer, it changed for the better.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic.

614) Union Square Café

Right around the corner at 21 East 16th Street is this well-known and excellent restaurant with a decent sized wooden bar with a foot rail. The bar chairs are wooden with dark green seats. Most of the people at the bar were eating lunch and drinking iced tea. How pathetic. On the bright side though it made Bar Man feel even more decadent than usual. Ah, how I miss the days of three martini lunches. The bartender admired my Fiji Bitters (the Sportsman’s Beer) hat and asked me what the beer tasted like. Alas, one of the Mysterious Chinese Woman’s sisters bought if for me but failed to bring me a beer. Well, I couldn’t get a beer all the way back from Fiji without drinking it either, so I forgive her.

Michael and Matty, The Friendly Bartenders

There were interesting flying saucer like lights hovering over the bar. The wooden cabinets behind the bar frame mirrors and have glass shelves for liquor, wine, and glasses. Tiered shelves in front of the mirrors hold more liquor and chalkboards announce their beer, wine, and daily specials. I am not sure if I would spend six dollars for potato chips, even if they are hot and garlicky. Heck, for that kind of money I can get a beer, much more nutritious and much better for you. A large fern, much more benign looking than the thing at the last place, sits on one end of the bar. One wall is pretty much covered with various awards from Zagats, the James Beard Society, and other institutions.

Michael, or was it Matty, promised to look me up and take me on a pub crawl one evening. I am looking forward to it.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic.

615) Wai?Café

Not far away at 583 6th Avenue (does anyone ever call it Avenue of the Americas anymore) is this combination of a café and a bar. The front is set up like a café with the bar in the back. The top of the bar is a mottled blue plastic lit from underneath. It is rimmed with a wide distressed copper looking plastic armrest that matches the front. It is kind of neat, wouldn’t mind having one of my own. No bar rail but the wooden bar stools have plenty of places to hook your heels. The floor is a more interesting than usual tan patterned tile. The walls are bright orange and display the very unusual, and quite bizarre work of Mark Z-Man. It would be worth stopping by here just to take a look. Most of it is for sale.

The back of the bar has shelves in a vaguely religious looking design and it displays the wine and beer selection. No liquor license. There is also a display of miniature corkscrews or, perhaps, corkscrews for very small bottles of wine. Had a most interesting discussion with the bartender about Tom Cruise, Scientology, science fiction, and life in general. I would have liked to stick around but had places to go.

I had a bottle of Sapporo, a decent Japanese beer.

616) Trailer Park

Everybody loves this place at 271 West 23rd between 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue, and whats not to love, plastic pink flamingos, Elvis on black velvet pictures, National Enquirer covers, a bowling alley bowling ball return that serves as a table, an actual trailer against one wall and very good margaritas made by the friendly bartender, Amy.

Amy, The Friendly Margarita Maker

We had a very nice talk and she recommended some bars for me in the Williamsburg area. One, Moe’s, has been called to my attention before so maybe I will head that way this week-end. I also need to check out Duff's where I will be celebrating number 750. A couple came in a bit later and we all sat around chatting like old friends.

There is just too much stuff in here to even begin to describe so I will pop in a few pictures and you will get the idea.

I had a delicious margarita and then, because I was having such a good time, a second one. This is another place that I regret I will not be able to get back to until after my quest is complete. Well, maybe I will sneak back again.

617) El Quijote

I headed towards the Flatiron Lounge and passed by this Spanish restaurant across the street from Trailer Par at 226 West 23rd between 7th and 8th Avenues and that I used to go to quite frequently when I lived in the area many years ago. The food and drinks were always great and I was pleased to see that it hasn’t changed, at least as far as the décor and the drinks, I didn't have anything to eat. This is one of the classiest Spanish restaurants in the city and is the real deal, not a new place trying to look old.

The Door To The Men's Room

The bar is old and wooden, has cigarette burns (gosh, seems like so long ago that you could actually smoke a cigarette at a bar) and the varnish was a bit sticky due to the humidity. Glasses being iced in a metal box on top of the bar (always a good sign) and flowers in a vase. There was a black foot rest. The bar chairs have red vinyl tops in various states of disrepair. There is a large antique cash register behind the bar and more Spanish knick knacks than you may ever see again. Ornate stained glass lamps hang over the bar and equally ornate chandeliers hang elsewhere. Orangish pink tinted carriage lights hang behind the bar. There is a mural on the back wall and Don Quixote themed wall paper on the wall opposite the bar. Go here for the food and drinks and plan to spend some time. It is a bit like visiting a Spanish museum

I had another excellently made margarita.

618) Flatiron Lounge

Well, I finally got to where I was headed and it was well worth it. It is located at 37 West 19th Street, right next door to Sala where I went yesterday. It is between 5th and 6th Avenues. There is a lot of dark wood and wrought iron along with banquettes for lounging. The bar is art deco style and is supposed to have come from the Manhattan Ballroom. You walk through a yellow lit tunnel lined with barstools to get to the bar proper, kind of a futuristic Blade Runner approach to a classic old bar.

The Tunnel

The overhead lights are a bit futuristic looking too and the bar stools have black cushions. The red leather banquettes are along the sparkly blue and silver opposite the bar. Classic cabinetry behind the bar that is lit up in yellowish lights. If you love classic cocktails, this is the place to go. Have I ever mentioned bitters? This place has at least four kinds.

The Bitters Selection

Another place where I will return, just for the flights of cocktails that they serve.

John Blue, The Friendly And Uberly Competent Bartender

I had a wonderful time, had a flight of cocktails that included a Ward Eight, an Apple Manhattan, and a Mint Jules (a variation on a mint julep).

My Flight Was Woderful And It Arrived On Time

They were all delicious. Then, because Bar Man has no sense, I topped it off with a sidecar.

My Final Drink For The Day

Oof. Toddle off home I did after this. But it was another good and very fun day with 6 bars hit bringing my total for the year to 618 and leaving me 382 to go.


Danoots said...

Ten cocktails (by my count) in one afternoon... and then you come home and are apparently still able to blog about it. You're a legend Dan.

1000 Bars said...

Well, the three cocktails in the flight weren't full size. Also, I cannot tell a lie, I usually do my blog the following morning. I used to do it when I got home but people began to point out my spelling and gramatical errors so I changed my gameplan. Bar Man is blessed by the fact that he seems to be immune from hangovers, but is not immune from getting tipsy.

Danoots said...

Here's one vote for doing blog posts immediately after you get home. We could use the number of spelling mistakes as an indication of how good the pours are at the bars you've visited.

Zennie Abraham said...

Hey, I've got to put in a plug for Michael the Bartender at The Union Square Cafe. I came into the place after the first and long day of the NFL Draft, and he treated me like a King. He even provided a bag of pastries to take to Javitz on Sunday for Day 2 of the Draft. On top of all that, he generously poured a great sherry shot into my black bean soup. Yummy!

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