I decided to concentrate on St. Marks Place (8th Street) that is kind of between Greenwich Village and the East Village. St. Marks Place is named for St Mark's-in-the-Bowery, a church two blocks north of the street that started out as the Stuyvesant family's private chapel. And, yes, I did indeed end up in Sing Sing. Bar Man has a bit of advice as a result; If you have your picture taken with an attractive young woman named Michelle, do not come home half in the bag singing the Beatles tune of the same name. This is not conducive to a night of romance unless, of course, you are actually romancing someone named Michelle.
The first place that I came to after getting off the subway at Astor Place (check out the beavers on the subway station’s walls) was this restaurant and bar at 24 St. Mark’s Place, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. It is more of a restaurant but there is a small bar separated from the dining area by a wood and glass partition. It only has six beat-up bar chairs, some of which had red vinyl seats covered with very frayed and torn green with red and gold patterned strips cloth. The bar didn’t seem to get a lot of attention from the staff. It wasn’t really the fault of anyone except, perhaps, management. Everyone was busy working the tables and the serving counter for the people ordering food, and the place was quite busy. The bar really was too small for a full time bartender. Once I got the attention of someone the service was quite pleasant and she remembered that I was there so she did come back a couple of times to see if I wanted anything else. Can’t really complain.
The bar was kind a kind of beat up wooden thing but it did have a brass rail. A large gold Kirin Ichiban good fortune cat that looked suspiciously like a repainted Hello Kitty sat at one end of the bar next to a vase of pink flowers whose expiration date had obviously passed. There is just pretty much a plain set of shelving behind the bar with a green and white marble top over the section where the cash register sat. Kind of neat lights hung over the bar, Glass domes that were white on the inside and royal blue on the outside. Indirect red lighting above the bar back added a kind of cozy, Tokyo at night glow to the place. There is outdoor seating on the sidewalk.
I had a draft Pilsner Urquell.
721) Bull McCabe's
Not far away, just across the street actually at 29 St. Marks Place, is this real bar that was icy cold inside. Good air conditioner. The bar is long with a brass rail and wood bar stools. The bar-top was kind of laminated wood though, not a real manly bar, but it did have a nicely paneled front to it. The wall behind the bar is old brick with five framed mirrors hanging on it. A Brooklyn Brewery blackboard had the beer specials listed on it, none of which were from Brooklyn Brewery. I will have to tell Garrett, their brewmaster, the next time I see him. Tiered shelves in front of the mirrors hold the bottles and glasses and shelves underneath hold more. There is also a large ice chest holding bottled beers (and cider). There is also one of those dispensers for chilled Jagermeister but I was somehow able to restrain myself. This was one of the last good decisions Bar Man made today.
Cone shaped lights above the bar cast little circles of light about every four feet or so. Three tube shaped brass beer stations with three spigots each sat on the bar. A pool table in the back was getting some decent action. The wall opposite the bar was paneled with knotty pine and had mirrors that looked like window panes hanging on it. There was also a large Guinness mirror and some Irish themed pictures as well. Set a bit away was what looked like a service bar but the bartender said it was just another place for people to hang out when the main bar got too crowded. Black benches and round tables with chairs sat in the corner next to the door by the front windows. There were four televisions and a Big Buck Hunter machine.
A large outdoor seating area was in the back with lots of tables and chairs and old beer posters hanging on the walls and fence. Jus make sure you don’t sit on the landing strip, it is vertical.
I had a Magner’s Irish Cider.
Right next door to Bull’s was a sushi bar but the trained eye of Bar Man spotted a real bar in there. Kind of a nice dark wooden bar too, with a foot rest. Seven wooden bar chairs with tan textured and patterned vinyl seats. Pyramid shaped rippled turquoise shaded lights hang over the bar. A large, but not yet fat, Buddha sat on one end of the bar. There is a large mirror behind the bar and two rows of sake bottles sitting in front of it. Shelves on each side of the mirror held a small selection of liquor. Below are shelves for glasses and pitchers. I didn’t see any spigots for beer but a sign over the actual sushi bar in the back did advertise draft Kirin Ichiban beer. There was a non-disfigured Hello Kitty sitting on an upright piano towards the back on the way to the beer.
The walls were pale green above wood paneling and wood backed benches. It was a fairly narrow place so just one row of tables up against the benches and along the wall. I didn’t venture back to the sushi bar area but there were a couple of tables back there as well.
Although they had a lot of sake on display, when I asked for a chilled one the waitress said they didn’t have any, only warm or at room temperature. That didn’t make a great deal of sense to me and I spotted a refrigerator under the bar and asked her to double check. Sure enough, there was a bottle in there and, I guess because she was a bit embarrassed, she poured me a large water glass full.
I had a large water glass full of chilled Harushika Extra Dry Sake.
Moving along St. Marks Place a bit to #65 is this French bistro that does, indeed, capture the ambience of the real thing. They don’t serve hard liquor here of I would have had a Pernod. A pleasant enough place to pop into though and it would really seem like the real thing at night when they have live jazz. There is a tee-shaped beer station on the bar with six spigots and a decent selection of beers (no spigots were wasted on generic domestic brands).
The wall behind the bar is cream-colored painted brick. To the left of the bar on the wall is a large blackboard advertising Jules Champagne Cocktails. To the left of that is a mirror with a quote from Jacques Brel but it was in French so I couldn’t read it. Probably lyrics from one of his songs though. Directly behind the bar were a couple of mirrors with glass shelves mounted on them that held wine bottles and glasses. These were above an old set of wooden shelves and drawers. The shelves held more wine bottles and glasses.
There is a narrow dining area in the back and a larger one opposite the bar. All white table cloths and linen. Very classy. While I was there an order of white lilies arrived and the bartender was busy arranging them in vases.
Nina, Bartender and Floral Arranger
The wall opposite the bar has two large mirrors and French posters, the largest one for a 1955 movie, Port du Desire.
A smaller poster advertised cigarettes. The rest of them I have no idea what they were for.
Sitting here, sipping my wine, made me wish I was in Paris in the 20’s, spending my days and nights in the cafes writing scathing political treatises while smoking and drinking absinthe, perpetually angry because my genius goes unrecognized. Come to think of it, I could do most of that here, I would just have to drink the non-hallucinogenic absinthe (they have largely eliminated the wormwood).
I had a glass of chilled red Sancerre. It was quite refreshing and I had never had a red Sancerre before. I will bring the Mysterious Chinese Woman here for a night of jazz and to atone for the Michelle faux paux and then I will get the name of the wine so I can buy some for myself.
Well, my intentions were good. I actually thought I was headed home, but for some reason the taste of sake lingered on my tongue and I wanted more. It is always the last place (or second to the last place) that does Bar Man in. You lose a bit of focus, the trembling hand steadies, you become invulnerable.
St. Marks Place seems to be going a bit Asian so I passed right by this classy Thai restaurant and bar on the way to the subway. And boy, did they have the sake. It is located at 7 St. Marks Place and the entry way is marked with a sculpted noodle, or something. The theme is repeated in the interior décor as well. There was seductive music and a wavy, light green stone topped bar with cream colored laminated front panels. The bar stools look like chrome bicycle seats, but were much more comfortable (unless you happen to be Lance Armstrong). Another slim Buddha, I think, welcomes you as you enter.
The bartender, Bobby, turned out to be from Boston where Bar Man lived for a couple of years and currently lives in Chinatown, where Bar Man spends a bit of time, some of it above ground, so we had things to chat about.
Bobby, The Bartender
I found out that klong means canal in Thai, for example. Kind of coiled overhead lights and a floor that looks like what you might find in an old garage. The seating in the dining area is kind of minimalist with small butcher block tables and fifties style white scoop seats.
They served their chilled sake in reasonably sized glasses set in a small wooden box. I has a chilled Kaori Sake and it was so good I had another. I should stop by during happy hour which runs from 11:00 P.M until 2:00 A.M when they close.
725) Sing Sing
Well, I told you I ended up in Sing Sing. This is a Japanese and Korean karaoke bar with 15 or 16 private booths.
A bit kinky, if you ask me. Kind of reminds you of a porno place. My notes for this place consists of two lines “Smooth greenish marble-topped bar” and “Too drunk to write.” Luckily I was able to take a picture of the interior so that will have to do.
Then I asked Michelle to write down something about the place. She wrote that the place has been open about 2 months and the price per hour to rent a booth (it ranges from a low of $3 per hour from 1:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M during the week to a high of $8 per hour after 7:00 P.M. on Friday and Saturday nights. Her final comment was Michelle loves to sing sing!
Michelle, Who Loves To Sing Sing!
I figured it was time to leave and after having but a single chilled sake did, in fact, head home.
A much more productive day than I had originally planned with six bars for the day and leaving 275 to go. Tomorrow I will be taking it a bit easier. I find that three bars in a day is a piece of cake and four is not bad. Once you go over that, however, strange things begin to happen. I might even start to sing sing!