Monday, August 29, 2005

Finishing Off St. Marks Place

Well, perhaps I didn’t quite finish it off, but the only bars left that I haven’t visited weren’t open yesterday. Maybe it was too early. Can’t be more than a couple of them anyway and I will pick them off one evening in the not too distant future.

762) St. Dymphnas

Quite a ways east at 118 St. Marks Place, almost to Avenue A where it ends at Thomkins Square Park, is this Irish pub named after the patron saint of mental illness. There is a social club in Dublin with the same name and it is specifically for people who have experienced “mental health difficulties.” Seems like an appropriate enough name for a bar. There is an old wood bar with a brass rail in this fairly small space. The walls are primarily a light green as is the ceiling. The wall behind the bar is more of a desert rose. There was a nice vase of flowers on one end of the bar and a television that was turned off. A beer station with 9 spigots sits on the bar and it has a decent variety. The lighting overhead is track and there are old gaslight fixtures on the walls that now have light bulbs in them. The windows in front have wood panes and the flooring is wooden planks. Tables and chairs make up the dining area. While I was there someone ordered the Irish breakfast and it looked very good indeed. There is a nice little outdoor seating area in the back.

I spent most of my time chatting with the bartender, mostly about real estate. He lives in a neighborhood not too far from me in Brooklyn. I was surprised to hear that housing prices are even higher in Dublin than in New York. And we are talking New York City here where a million dollars buys you a fixer-up in a suspect neighborhood. Ah me, where will it all end.

My solution was to have a draft Kirin and move along.

763) Hop Devil Grill

This is a relatively new place across the street from St. Dymphnas that was built into an old space so some of the original fixtures are still in place. The bar is new and has a heavy well-polished light wood top and kind of a matching plywood front. The foot rest is rough wood with metal trim. They have a great selection of bottled and draft beers. The draft beers are pulled from 24 spigots mounted behind the bar above a patterned metal splash guard above a long drainage trough.

All of the draft beers looked good and they had a few I had never seen before. Above the spigots is kind of a cubby-hole set of shelves with old beer cans, statues, glasses and stuff tucked in them. On each side of the spigots are tiered shelves of liquor. A small blackboard in the center of the shelves lists their bar food and a large rectangular blackboard above the bar lists the beer selections by country. Maybe I should have had the Layla Dirty Blond Lager from Israel.

There are a lot of framed beer ads from days gone by mounted on the walls that are kind of a mottled tan above dark wood paneling. The back area is up three steps and has a bunch of round tables and chairs. Opposite the bar is a small partition with a fairly wide ledge and a few bar stools in front of it. Above the partition is another blackboard that explains just what a hop devil is.

At each end of the explanation the daily specials are listed. On the other side of the partition up against the wall are booths with burgundy seats. The wall next to the large floor to almost ceiling windows and the entryway is hammered tin. Kind of an interesting look. The entryway and red outer door have large oval windows. The ceiling is kind of a paneled mottled tan plastic and there are ceiling fans with lights hanging from it. The floor is interesting multi-colored chip linoleum.

Around the back and kind of next door they have another separate bar that only opens later in the evening. The only serve Belgian style beers at that bar and the bartender said the owners objective was to have the largest selection of Belgian style bars in the United States. I hope he succeeds. I will come back here later in the day sometime and I will count it as a separate bar. From the street side it is actually separated from the other side by a small store and it has its own street side entrance. In fact I think I will go back tomorrow.

I had a draft Belhaven Twisted Thistle Ale, quite good I must say.

764) Sushi Lounge

This is just a small place at the end of St. Marks Place on the same side of the street as St. Dymphnas. There is just a small bar with only four chairs, but a bar is a bar. The bar has a dark wood top and a padded red leather front. The bar chairs are wood with a somewhat elegant design and pale green seats. There is a fairly plain, and small, set of shelves behind the bar with glasses and a couple of martini shakers for the sake cocktails they offer. On the top shelf is a plastic pair of clinking beer mugs. There are metal coolers behind the bar. On the left side of the bar are four large and two small sake bottles and s display of eight decorative sake glasses. Above that is a small bamboo mat with white flowers. Above the other end of the bar is a mobile of small Asian fans.

The walls are the same shade of pale green as the seats of the bar chairs and the trim around the windows and doors is a brilliant yellow. Mostly track lighting on the ceiling with three large white Japanese style lanterns in the front and a couple more in the back room. The decorations in the front consist mostly of pictures of different kinds of sushi. In the back the walls are covered with black and white photos of New York.

There is, of course, a large sushi bar on the wall to the left of the bar and signs advertising half off on Kirin Ichiban Draft and Sake Martinis. Happy hour runs from 10:00 P.M. until closing.

I had a chilled Otokoyama sake and followed that up with a chilled Kurosawa sake.

Not a bad day, a sunny stroll down an interesting street and three bars hit bringing my total to 764 for the year leaving 236 to go.


Glendon said...

Ahh, St. Dymphna's is one of my favorite pubs in Manhattan. Also, the very first one I walked into upon moving to NYC. I believe we spent one St. Patrick's Day there swilling Jameson and Guinness.

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