Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hello New York

I took a day off yesterday to recuperate from my travels but headed out today to get back at it again. New York is always such an experience after you have been away for awhile. You have to readjust to the crowds, for one thing but one ride on the subway pretty much takes care of that.

802) Mexico Lido

A Mexican bar and restaurant at the corner of 2nd Avenue and 26th Street that has a touch of elegance to it. The relatively small bar is at the very back and is big enough to accommodate seven dark wooden chairs with dark brown leather-like plastic seats. The bar has a nice new-looking wooden top that sits on top of mottled turquoise blocks with a multi-hued turquoise mosaic trim at the top. A wooden overhang above the bar has racks for glasses of various sizes and shapes. Small blue lights in a plastic tube ring the inside of the overhang. Mirror backed wooden shelves behind the bar hold the liquor and there is a decent selection of tequilas. Above the bottles is a narrow wine rack holding two rows of wine bottles.

There is a large colorful painting on the brick wall to the left of the bar that depicts some kind of a festival, complete with a mariachi band, singers, and fireworks, that is taking place on the beach of a small bay. A row of tables runs down the center of the room and a mirror placed at the end of the row by the door makes the place look much larger than it really is. Salmon-colored padded benches line each wall and one is tucked into a nook by a window up front. There are tables in front of the benches and all the tables have white tablecloths and nice place settings. That, coupled with the chandelier hanging from the ceiling creates an almost formal atmosphere.

To the right of the bar on the 26th Street side is a narrow dining area that is separated from the larger room by a wall with two arched windows that flank the arched doorway. The tables there take full advantage of the wall to wall windows. There are large plants sitting on the ledges of the two arched windows and a picture and a mirror hang on the pale beige wall. This little area has a separate door that you can enter from 26th Street. Up front by the door on 2nd Avenue is a large section of wall covered by photos of customers and what I take to be the owner’s family.

The chips and salsa were very good and the margarita prices looked reasonable. I was tempted but it was a bit early in the day so I stuck to a bottle of Pacifico Clara.

803) Failte

This Irish bar is just down the street a bit at 531 2nd Avenue. Failte means welcome in Gaelic and the crowd of regulars seemed to be welcome indeed. As a bit of an interloper I was pretty much ignored but the bartender did provide quick service so I have no complaints. The bar is quite interesting. It looks as though it was just hewn out of a large log. It is well polished and varnished on top but the edge is rough and irregularly shaped. The front is rough wood planking and there is a silver foot rail. The seating is a bit of a mixed collection of wooden stools and chairs. The wall behind the bar is rough brick with rough hewn cupboards and shelves holding the liquor. There are a couple of decent sized flat-screen televisions hanging back there and little white Christmas lights are draped above. Bare yellow light bulbs hang over the bar from a timbered tan cement ceiling. The floor is rough wooden planking.

The opposite wall is a combination of brick and mottled dark beige plaster. Upfront the lower half of the plaster wall is rough wood paneling with a ledge on top. This pattern is repeated on the next section of brick wall. The section furthest back has a large fireplace...There is back room with a pool table and an upstairs that I didn’t get a chance to visit.

There was an almost Monty Python like discussion on grammar taking place between a middle aged man and woman at one end of the bar. It seemed to revolve around the proper use of “he” and “I” versus “him” and “me” in a variety of situations. I mean this conversation just would not stop. Somehow “I came,” I went,” “I saw” also entered into it as well as the word “hopefully.” What made it more surreal was the fact that both of the people were well into their cups. It really got good when they began to attempt to quote Shakespeare to back up their opinions. I left when they began to discuss algebra and why, in their opinions, it made no sense to substitute letters for numbers.

I had a Dewars and soda.

804) L’Annam

A Vietnamese restaurant on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 28th Street. Just a small bar with only 2 stools. The bar has a redwood top and light wood front. What looks like a bamboo bridge hangs overhead. The bar back is light wood and glass shelves. There is a large clear glass cylindrical vase with tall curly green bamboo shoots sitting at the hostess station to the right of the bar. A very friendly hostess, Peggy, who was most attentive and kept my little glass filled with Sake.

Peggy, The Attentive And Chatty Hostess

The walls look like large, light wood-grained siding and the floors are highly polished wood. The walls up front are more of a large light and dark beige checkerboard pattern. There are a lot of curved booths and wrap-around windows on two sides.

I had a chilled bottle Hakushika sake and it was quite tasty. They also offered a domestic sake that sold for the same price but was only a 2/3 the size. Kind of a no brainer to choose the Japanese one. Of course this led to a discussion with Peggy about which was better and whether you would buy a tequila made in the United States that cost more than one made in Mexico (we agreed we would by the Mexican one).

805) Vertigo

Located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 26th Street this has almost an open air feel to it. Of course it was a beautiful day so it was only appropriate that the wraparound glass doors were wide open. This is another one of the new places that are gradually replacing the more dive-like Irish bars that used to line this avenue. Of course I consider anything less than twenty years old to be new. It has a nice long bar complete with an old-looking gray painted foot rail. The chairs have brown leather-like seats and backs. Modern looking black shelves and cabinets with long three tier shelves of liquor behind the bar. There is an ochre plastered wall behind the bar. Above them are five nice flat-screened televisions. The other wall is a combination of flat gray and brick. The tables are rough wood and have chairs of the same design as the ones at the bar. A nice, noisy place with a lively crowd and a friendly bartender.

Liz, The Friendly Bartender

I had a Dewars and Soda

806) Grand Saloon

This would be an easy to dismiss bar on a busy street, 23rd between 3rd and Lexington, but they claim to have been around since 1880. In the late nineteenth century the building was known as the St. Blaize Hotel & Restaurant and was reputed to be one of the best and busiest brothels in New York. Supposedly “Diamond” Jim Brady made this his home away from home. There is a good sized wooden bar. The shellac is almost black from age. Just a black, almost rubber stair-tread foot rest. The chairs are kind of cute though with kind of huggy armrests and back with maroon and gray patterned fabric seats. The bar back is old wooden cabinetry with shelves, arches, mirrors, and cabinets. Lots of liquor piled up on shelves and underneath the cabinets. Kind of bagel shaped lights hang over the bar and some elegant looking helmet shaped crenulated glass lights hang from the ceiling elsewhere.

The walls are dark rose and there is a lot of dark wood paneling, ledges, booths, and more chairs elsewhere. Several small televisions are strewn about the place. The ceiling is tan painted patterned tin. There is a nicely patterned tan and black tile floor. There is a back dining area. I am not sure what the menu is like but the onion rings and chicken wings that they were serving at the bar looked and smelled great. I would have been tempted if I didn’t have dinner waiting at home. The back room has another smaller bar and a fireplace. I liked the selections being played on the jukebox too, ranged from the Eurythmics to New Riders of the Purple Sage.

I had a Dewars and soda and headed home.

Not a bad "first" day back. Five bars bringing my total to 806 for the year and leaving 194 to go. I will probably be taking a few days off. I am doing a guest bartending gig at Bellevue tomorrow night and Sunday I am going to a Jets game. Saturday will probably be spent getting stuff ready for the game. Even though it is a 1:00 P.M. game my buddy Bernie will be picking me up at 8:00 A.M. Did I mention that he likes to tailgate. I will need Saturday for advance preparations. I am responsible for bringing a large quantity of my special homemade Sangria as well as chicken wings. A new place did open up in my neighborhood though so there is a slight chance that I might hit one bar on Saturday.


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