I decided on the spur of the moment to head over to the West side today instead of going back East again. Just thought it would be a bit of a change of pace and it turned out to be a pleasant day, a couple of real finds and the revisiting of a place that I hadn’t been to for awhile.
679) Kevin St. James
One of the old West side bars in the Times Square Area that retains most of its seediness (but a good seediness) despite the introduction of a couple of plasma televisions to go along with several older models. It is located at 741 8th Avenue at 46th Street. It has a good sized old wood bar with a brass rail and plain wood bar chairs. An extremely cluttered bar back as you so often find in places like this. I particularly liked the Taxi Driver clock with Robert De Niro in his Mohawk. Kind of a profusion of shelves with liquor, statues, signed softballs, candles, and who knows what else. One large gold framed mirror with fire-station badges stuck along the edges. Two nice lights, winged ladies holding orangish glove lights aloft in their outstretched arms, hang on the yellow walls. Towards the front are a flock of flying toucans with glasses of Guinness balanced on their beaks.
Colleen, The Irish Lass Who Graciously Served Me
A couple of brass beer stations sit on the bar and they dispense a decent selection of beers. Lights with red shades shaped like Asian coolie hats hang over the bar and five fairly elaborate looking stained glass lights hang from the brown tin ceiling up front. The wall opposite the bar is brick and is lined with brown banquettes with tables and chairs in front. A large Guinness mirror and an illuminated, round mostly green but with a heart shaped Gaelic crest in the center, piece of art hangs above them. Tables and stools up front. There is a Reefer Madness poster hanging on the back wall.
I had a Boddingtons.
680) Scruffy Duffy’s
Right next door is another of the survivors. They seem to be a bit more common on the West side than on the East, but it might be a bit premature to draw conclusions. Another old beat up wooden bar with a high wood footrest. They have a nice selection of draft beers served from 24 spigots mounted on three silver box-like stations that sit on the bar. The bar back is kind of a mixture of what looks like homemade wood shelving, an industrial looking metal rack for glasses, and an array of audio and video equipment sitting on top of old wooden coolers, cupboards, and drawers with silver colored handles and hinges and in front of mirrors and a brick wall. They have 9 televisions that I could see including one large screen one in the back.
There is a wide assortment of knick knacks that include a rooster carrying a Guinness on a tray, guitars, a conga drum, a bass drum, beer steins, and a Negro jazz band (not a real one, just ceramic figurines). The prize piece was a genuine Big Mouth Billy Bass. A couple of chalkboards list Scruffy Snacks and their beer selection. Neon beer signs sit atop a narrow overhang above the bar back.
The wall opposite the bar is a combination of brick, green stucco, and wood paneling. There are Irish flags, a surfboard, and beer and traffic signs hanging on the wall. A nice pool table getting some action sits up front with a moose head mounted on the wall keeping an eye on things.
Wood benches with tables and chairs in front of them line the wall in back and a narrow ledge with stools in front runs around the rest of the place. There is a dartboard in the back. Small green lights ring the walls near the ceiling.
The bartender was a bit shy at first and didn't want me to take her picture. After chatting with her for a while she finally surrendered to my charms. Well, at least she let me take her picture.
Triona, The Bashful Bartender
I had a Newcastle Brown Ale.
681) Blarney Stone
Somewhat of a typical Blarney Stone, but a bit lighter than most due to the good sized light wood bar with a bar rail. It was right around the corner on 47th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. The walls are a combination of dark green paint and light wood paneling. Mirrors and light wood paneling behind the bar and a thick wooden counter sitting atop black metal coolers. Five televisions sit in recessed shelves above the mirrors behind the bar. There is a steam table serving up sandwiches; roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, the usual. This is something you see less and less frequently these days and it is a pity because they usually serve up pretty good food. Little green glass shaded lights hang over the bar. It was a pretty generic place but with a decent and quite vociferous crowd.
I had a Tanqueray and tonic.
I know, I know, it’s a Bennigan’s. But hey, it was right there, almost right next to the Blarney Stone on the corner of 47th Street and 8th Avenue. And the bartender was attentive and friendly so it was fine by me. A decent sized bar with a brown patterned Formica top and a wide wooden edge. The front was paneled and there was a brass rail. Wood bar chairs with swirling seats were comfortable enough. Inverted cone shaped lights alternating in color between pale green and light orange hung above the bar. Three plasma televisions were mounted behind the bar above a couple of coolers with glass doors. These held the bottled beer selection, or at least most of it. There was also a small metal bin of ice that had a few beers icing down. A couple of small tierred shelves held what looked to be a fairly meager liquor supply and there was a beer station with twelve spigots. Above the spigots was a brass rack for glasses.
There was a couple of tourists from Indiana at the bar having margaritas. I am not sure why you would go here when there are so many neat authentic New York bars so close by. But, if you are a tourist I guess this is a familiar looking place where you might feel more comfortable.
I had a Magner’s Irish Cider
683) The Collins Bar
This place wasn’t open when I passed by earlier but it is right by Kevin St. James and Scruffy Duffy’s at 735 8th Avenue. Ah, another old classic that, to be repetitive, really makes you wonder why you would come all the way from Indiana and then go to a place just like one that you have at home. It isn’t like you couldn’t see this place.
They have a really great selection of bottled beers and a very decent selection of draft beers as well. They also had a major whiskey selection that included Tennessee whiskeys, Bourbons and Scotch. They also had about 20 kinds of tequilas. As you might expect, there was an old wood bar with a wooden footrest and plain wooden chairs. The music ranged from The Who to Dean Martin. Great clutter behind the bar including chalkboards displaying their beer and whiskey selections, their tequila selection, their specialty liquors (ooh, Pernod) ports and sherries, cognacs, and a limited wine selection.
Neat old cabinets, shelves and mirrors behind the bar. The wall opposite the bar was kind of peeling red paint above black wood paneling with a narrow ledge for drinks. A church-like pew in the back had tables with candles sitting in front of it. There were candles sitting on the bar as well. Another little ledge with stools in front was in the back next to the dartboard lane. Maps and pictures of baseball players, pin-up girls, a gold framed mirror, and much more hung on the red wall. The back wall was a somewhat pale green.
There were two guys and a girl in there and I couldn’t quite tell if they were from out of town or not. They were half in the bag (and this is coming from me after having five drinks) and were half discussing and half arguing about where to go for dinner. One of the guys was drinking Long Island ice teas with cranberry juice instead of Coca Cola.
Anyway, if you are in the Times Square area and want to do something other than hit places like Bennigan’s you could do a lot worse than just popping into the three in a row on 8th Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets.
I had a draft Rogue Brutal Bitter and a wee sample of Brooklyn Scorcher provided by Tara.
Tara, The Generous Bartender
They were both quite hoppy but the Brooklyn Scorcher had a nice pear-like back taste to it. I withstood the temptation to toss down a shot of Pernod.
Well, there may be more of the old bars hanging on in this neck of the woods, but there are, alas, still a few that didn't make it.
The Former Monte-Tecla
A pretty decent day, five bars in all making 683 for the year and leaving 317 to go.