I had such a good time yesterday I felt compelled to somehow pay for it today. To do this I headed to Times Square and made a point of visiting places I would normally avoid at all costs. Things went according to plan until I got to B.B. King’s and ended up having a good time in spite of myself.
692) Times Square Brewery
A modernistic looking place in the heart of Times Square on 42nd between 7th and 8th Avenues. There is a large curved bar with a black marble top and a wood front. Even the foot rest is marble. Two gold beer stations sit on the bar with 5 spigots each serve their five house brews. Tubular frosted lights hang above the bar. Shiny metal and mirror backed glass shelves above black coolers behind the bar. There were two decent televisions above the bar but they were both turned off. The walls are rose colored and there is a huge round light set at a tilt in the back that looks like the underside of a flying saucer coming in for a landing. Orange lights under cone shaped shades hang from the rest of the ceiling.
A large white marble staircase leads to an upstairs dining area. There is a curved narrow ledge with stools opposite the bar and it had menus sitting on it. A couple of tourists came in with a little girl and sat down there but left after a few minutes grumbling because no one asked if they wanted anything. I guess they discovered no-man’s land, out of the bartender’s range and not within the hostess’s area of responsibility, although she was only a step away.
I had stopped in this place long ago in its previous location (they had to move when a new subway entrance was constructed) and didn’t care for their beer then. I tried a Dunkel that was supposed to have soft round chocolate and caramel-like notes and subtly accented by select European hops. I thought it had more of a burnt coffee flavor and was quite hoppy. At least, to the best of my knowledge, they still make their own beers.
693) Red Lobster
This Red Lobster is located on the corner of 7th Avenue and 41st. Don’t worry, you can’t miss it. Now, Bar Man has a confession to make. I kind of like eating at Red Lobsters, and Olive Gardens too (they are both subsidiaries of Darden Restaurants, Inc.). Drinking there is another story. Let’s start with waiting ten minutes for a drink because the one bartender was busy with two women trying to decide what they wanted to eat. Then I was offered that old airport special of one buck for a double. What they really mean is that if you pay an extra dollar you get a halfway decent drink. A double is two carefully measured ounces of liquor so a single would be just one. Not too many bars in New York pour a one ounce drink. After getting my drink the bartender announced that she was going upstairs for awhile. It turns out that she has to run up to the kitchen and retrieve the food for the customers. Then, when two customers had a complaint about what they got, she had to run upstairs and correct the situation. Poor bartender, poor customers who might want service. I am surprised she managed to stay so cheerful.
They did have a nice, highly polished bar though. It was a fairly standard bar back with three televisions that were turned on. A fish mobile hung from the ceiling and there were a couple of large fish tanks up front. Also a kind of undersea scene sculpture hangs from the walls up front by the windows.
Nothing to see here folks, just move along.
I had a Tanqueray in tonic, a “double” for only $7.50 plus tax. Do not drink, or eat, in large Times Square restaurants unless you are a highly experienced professional.
694) Pinnacle Bar
I decided to just walk around the block and came to a Hilton Hotel. I took the elevator up to the lobby, bar, and restaurant.
There is an oval shaped bar with truncated ends. It sits next to two large windows that look out on, well, buildings.
The bar has a marble top that looks like coffee after you first drop a dollop of cream into it. A silver bar rail and plush black bar stools with little, totally non-functional, backs. On each of the truncated ends of the bar is a small setup for bottles with silver coolers and more bottles below bar level inside the oval.
The bar is right next to the check-in counter and lobby so it is quite loud and kind of carries forward the airport lounge ambience from Red Lobster. It is a decent enough place to have a drink if you are staying here, but I wouldn’t step in off the street for one. They did have nice little bowls of bar snacks though and I managed to polish mine off leaving only the peanuts.
I had a draft Above Whitefoam Ale that had no foam and almost no taste. I guess most people are smart enough not to order one of these so who knows how long the keg has been sitting around. The beer was $6 plus tax but I just wrote down a room number on the bill and left. Bar Man is a highly experienced professional.
Why stop the humiliation now, might as well push it to the limit and actually go to an Applebee’s just for a drink. At least it was easy to get to. The first floor of the Hilton is a block wide so when I walked out the door on the opposite side of where I walked in this place is right next door. Again, don’t worry, you can’t miss it. If you are the Bar Man the fun just never stops. Or maybe it does and I just never remember. I bypassed the dowstairs eating area and took the stairs up to the bar.
Well, it doesn’t get much better than this, and the place, except for the bar, was absolutely packed. When you consider that they have two large floors of seating, that is a lot of people. They do have a nice enough light wood bar with marble footrests and comfortable black cushioned bar chairs. The air-conditioning in here was almost numbingly cold. Too much junk on the walls and hanging from the ceiling to describe, but it is all just ordered from a warehouse so there is no real character to this place. But hey, if you are a fan of Applebee’s and don’t mind paying high, even for New York, prices for your hamburger, or whatever, by all means drop in. One thing, with all of the tourists chowing down I blended right in with my somewhat gaudy shirt and camera slung over my shoulder.
I had a Beefeater and tonic. They didn’t have any Tanqueray. They managed to up the price at Red Lobster by 25 cents charging $7.75 and then adding tax, that is another 85 cents. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not adverse to paying $8.60 for a nice drink in a nice place, but this is a bit high for an Applebee’s, even if it is in Times Square.
696) B.B. Kings
I headed right across the street to B.B. Kings and expected to continue my streak and complete my day of atoning for yesterday’s pleasures. Unfortunately I ended up having a good time. Damn! I blame this all on Merav the cheerfully friendly bartender and a couple of other customers who definitely were not tourists.
Merav, Who Made This Place Fun
Merav With A Better View Of The Bar Back
In fact, the place was blessedly deserted except for the few of us at the bar. Merav said it gets crowded with tourists later in the evening but the other side, where they have a large a theater-like area for really good musicians, attracts mostly locals. This side was pretty big too and had a large stage area where I guess the equivalent of Las Vegas lounge acts perform. And those can be very good.
I had a Tanqueray and tonic and then got into chatting and ordered what the guy next to me was having, an Appletini (I guess I was still trying to atone). I got my first drink paid for however because Merav thinks posting her picture here is going to make her famous. Best of luck, Merav.
I pretty much accomplished my objective although not completely. I can’t discourage anyone from dropping into B.B. Kings but you can pretty much skip the other four places unless you feel compelled to walk a mile, or at least a few blocks, in Bar Man’s shoes. I hit five bars for the day and still made it home in time to do a radio interview at 3:30 P.M. I am not sure how I sounded though. I have now hit 696 bars for the year leaving 304 to go.