Friday, August 05, 2005

Can't Stand The Heat? Stay Out Of Hell's Kitchen

I decided to head back to Hell’s Kitchen again and it was somehow appropriate given how hot it was. By the time I headed home the thermometer at the gas station across the street from my last stop said 103.

Now, that is hot.

708) Mr. Biggs

Can you say “televisions”? I counted at least 36 of them in this relatively small place. There were 14 of them above the bar back and another 18 flanking a large screen for a projection TV. A few more were scattered about just for good measure. I felt like the alien played by David Bowie in the movie The Man Who Fell To Earth. There is a nice dark wood bar but no bar rail. The wooden chairs that matched the bar had rungs enough though. The wall behind the bar consisted of large bolted on grey metal plates, or something that was meant to look that way. Kind of interesting in an industrial kind of way. No mirrors back there though, too many televisions. Just a plain brown wood shelf that looked like it was a wrap-around of the bar itself. There were tiered shelves on top of it that held the liquor. The glasses and more liquor was stored underneath. Neat old domed style lights hang over the bar.

The wall opposite the bar is brick and there is a long burgundy banquette with small round tables and chairs sitting against it. Between the top of the banquette and the televisions is a narrow band of mirrors. A smaller banquette sits against the back wall and a double row of round tables and chairs runs down the middle of the wooden floor.

They had frozen strawberry daiquiri, pina colada, and margarita machines and a large sign that advertised karaoke three nights a week. Woot, frozen drinks and karaoke, can’t get much better than that. There are a lot of Mr. Biggs tee-shirts on display and you can get gift certificates for frozen drinks. Kind of an interesting touch. Give your loved ones a gift certificate for a frozen drink and send them off to karaoke night.

The bartender, Melanie, was very pleasant.

Melanie, The Pleasant Bartender

She had worked at the WWF restaurant and bar in Time’s Square and she said that place had a lot more televisions than here. Hoo Boy, I will have to truck on over there one day and check it out. Can’t imagine the ambience of having a drink surrounded by the images of sweaty pretty-boy wrestlers wearing skimpy briefs. Not wrestlers like back when I was a mere Bar Boy. Then we had real men like George, The Animal, Steele and the Vachone brothers, Butcher and Mad Dog, and my hometown hero, Vern Gagne.

They have a nice little outdoor seating area and because it is on the corner of 10th Avenue and 43rd Street at 596 10th Avenue it wraps around so you have seating on two sides.

I had a Magners Irish Cider, hit the spot as the day was warming up.

709) Druids

This was the destination that I had in mind when I headed out today. It is at 736 10th Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets. It was a bit of a hike up there in the heat but I took it slow and noted a couple of places to stop in on my way back to the subway. Druids is an older place with a nice wooden bar and a brass rail. The bar back is largely mirrors with glass and metal shelves holding liquor and glasses. Little upturned glass shaded lights are mounted between the mirrors. Green glass cone shaped shaded lights hang over the bar. On the shelf above the mirror are old books, a real old accordion, storm lamps, old Celtic style paintings, candlesticks, and weird statuary. There is, of course, a picture of Stonehenge above a shelf of old books. Two very old golf clubs were mounted above the bottles behind the bar.

A bunch of puppets hang in front of one of the windows and there is an article about the guy who makes them.

I guess he must be a regular there. A lot of original artwork hangs on the brick wall opposite the bar and on the bluish-grey back wall as well. Druids hosts shows of the works of local artists. In fact one came in while I was there looking for the owner, who was at his other place (Landmark Tavern, a stop I will soon be making), to see about arranging a show. Candle-like electric lights hang on the brick wall. There are about ten tables nicely decked out with white tablecloths and linen.

This was a very pleasant place and I enjoyed myself a lot chatting with Marisela and then with a friend of hers that popped in. A most enjoyable stay.

Marisela, A Very Friendly Bartender

While I was there someone came in who just wanted to see the back “garden” area. I went back to take a peak and found a nice little outdoor seating area with more artwork on display.

I wouldn’t call it a garden though. Looks like it would be a fun place when the weather cools down a bit.

I had a draft Bass Ale.

710) 1050 Lounge

Heading back to the subway I stopped in this lounge affiliated with the Skyline Hotel at 725 10th Avenue.

It is a much more interesting place than you normally find in a hotel. In fact the lounge alone would be reason enough to stay here, that and the fact that it is so close to Druids and the colorful Hell’s Kitchen location.

Marisela said that they have a big European clientele so that probably explained the soccer on the televisions, including one large screen projection television on the side wall. There was also a colorful 1922 poster advertising Maccheroni Pianigiani, a pasta.

The bar is curvy and has a pink and grey marble top. The front is light wood and there is a brass rail. Pale blue, yellow, and green swollen tubular glass lights hang above the bar. The bar back is light wood and frames mirrors, the center one with an arch. Tiered shelves holding the liquor sit above black coolers.

There are large windows on the 10th Avenue side but the bar is set so far back that you aren’t flooded with light. Plush well-worn red and blue sofas, chairs, and stools surrounding low tables line the walls and there are heavy deep red drapes on the windows. Brass and wood overhead fans, each with a single red or blue bare bulb hang from the ceiling in front of the windows. The walls are dark green with a slightly lighter green ceiling. The place had a definite old European flavor to it and might be worth dropping into again.

A Jamie Lee Curtis looking working girl came in and ordered a Coke which she then proceeded to drink through a straw without ever picking the glass up off the bar. I figured she either had the shakes or was just staying in practice. Sorry, no picture.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic.

711) Clinton Grill

Just down 10th Avenue at 637, and across the street from the gas station, is this corner bar and restaurant. It had a lively lunchtime crowd at its sidewalk tables, despite the heat, when I walked by it on my way to Druids. It was empty now though. Bar Man takes a certain perverse pleasure in drinking while most people are at work.

The bar has a rough grey and tan tile top and a wooden front. No bar rail but the black tubular chairs with oxblood vinyl seats gave you enough places to park your feet. The floor was a pink and grey tile with a texture similar to the top of the bar. There are recessed panels of mirrors behind the bar with tiered shelves of liquor and glasses. Two levels of glass shelves are mounted on the mirrors themselves and these hold the stemware. A large American flag was mounted on the pale green expanse of wall above the mirrors. A couple of small hula dolls sat atop the cash register. Cone shaped green shaded lights hang above the bar from the brown patterned tile ceiling. There were two televisions, but they weren’t turned on.

Just opposite the bar were two maroon benches separated by a round table with a green tablecloth. Behind the benches are more tables and chairs. One row of tables sit in front of similar maroon benches set against a brick wall with two good-sized windows. One window has three glass shelves with empty Chianti bottles, a few cut glass decanters, some frosted bottles, and a small cluster of American flags.

There are four overhead brass and wood fans and a single tannish inverted umbrella like light hanging from the ceiling in the dining area. Neat rattan furniture on the outdoor sidewalk dining area.

I had a draft Red Hook Blond (wonder if it was because of a sub-conscious memory of the woman in 1050).

Another enjoyable day with four bars hit making a lucky 711 for the year and leaving 289 to go.


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