Today I broke that that 900 bar mark and began the countdown through the final 100. When I started this adventure I had no doubt that I could successfully complete it, but I have to admit, looking back, I am somewhat amazed that I made it this far. I have come to realize that once I hit my final bar it will be with a sense of both pride and relief.
I decided the Mysterious Chinese Woman should be along for this semi-milestone event so I picked some fancy bars to visit. These are all fairly new on a bit of a stretch where there never really used to be much in the way of bars and restaurants, Broadway between 14th and 23rd and just adjacent to it.. It is hard for people to realize now, but the whole Union Square area was really hard scrabble not all that long ago. I mean Union Square Park was rift with drug dealers and prostitutes even during the day. Nobody was putting up anything nice in this area at that time. How things do change. A lot of people remember what Alphabet City was like and how much it has changed. In fact you can still see a few remnants of what it was like if you look hard enough. But it is amazing the number of people I talk to have no concept of what Union Square was like. I am really getting to be an old geezer. If I start talking about how I had to walk a mile to school in sub-zero weather and the driving snow just buy me a drink and send me home. Oh, by the way, did I ever tell you about how I had to walk a mile to school in sub-zero weather and the driving snow?
A great place on Broadway between 19th and 20th. Great if you don’t mind paying $11 for a bottle of beer. Even for a Hitachino While Ale from Japan that is a bit, shall we say, pricey. The “cheapest” beer in here was a Stoudts from Pennsylvania, and that was $7. The Bombay Martini at a mere $12.50 seemed like a steal in comparison. This is a nice looking place though with a long bar made out of black slate, missing only a foot rest of any kind to make it perfect. The chairs were molded plywood and metal and were surprisingly beat up.
The bar back is fairly stark, mirrors and dark, almost black shelves for glasses and tiered shelves for the liquor. Cooling units with black doors sat down below and there was also ample storage for wine. There is a black metal catwalk above the bar and major climate controlled wine storage up there. The catwalk wraps around to the right and back of the bar and it looks like they must have just gotten in a large shipment of wine because that area was strewn with empty boxes. Small spotlights hang from the underside of the catwalk and illuminate the bar area.
The walls are a combination of orange, white, and deep rose. There are little tables up front along with gray banquettes in a large nook directly opposite the bar. Pictures of fat ducks, probably about to become someone’s dinner, adorn the back wall of the nook. There is also a good sized dining area with larger tables decked out with white tablecloths and fancy place settings. A place where you would go to impress a date or schmooze a client. They do have an impressive menu, mostly French.
Bar Man ignored the “Drink Specials” listed on the blackboard that included a Ginger Martini and an Apple Spice Manhattan and had his standard Bombay Martini, up with a twist.
If Bar Man ever opened up a place of his own it would be modeled on a classic 1940’s jazz club and you wouldn’t be allowed to have drinks like an Apple Spice Martini, unless you sat in the children’s section.
This place, on Broadway between 20th and 21st, evokes the feel of some kind of a British bar in colonial India or someplace equally exotic. Bamboo ceiling fans spin languidly, rattan chairs surround small round tables with metal tops, the floor is made up of small cream colored and brown tiles. The bar also has a metal top with a wooden front and a brass rail. Large jugs of vodka over various kinds of fruit (pineapple slices in the one in front of me) sit on the bar and each jug has a spigot on the bottom so these are not just for show. There is a single silver cylindrical beer station protruding from the bar and it has two unmarked black-handled spigots. Lots of lamps with black bases shaped like the Washington Memorial (or the Foshay Tower, for those of you familiar with Minneapolis) and square woven bamboo shades or some fabric made to look like that also sit on the bar. Almost too many of them because they, along with the jugs of vodka, make the bar feel a bit too cluttered. I sat at one end under a large tropical plant of some kind in a very large cylindrical frosted glass vase. The Mysterious Chinese Woman couldn’t identify the plant because it hadn’t flowered yet but she went into great detail explaining why the bright green leaves were configured the way that they were.
The bar back is just a set of coolers with metal doors and wooden shelves in the middle. There is a long rectangular wood framed mirror and shelves holding liquor mounted on the wall above the coolers. The walls look like wallpaper that is meant to convey the feel, again, of very finely woven bamboo. There is a dark wood shelf sitting directly on top of the coolers and this holds bottles of wine and liquor as well. Lots of lights with round shades made out of the same fabric as the ones on the bar hang over the area behind the bar and similar lights are mounted on the walls.
The guy next to us at the bar was eating a pasta dish of some sort and the Mysterious Chinese Woman asked him how it was. She has a way about her because he immediately offered her some to try. Surprisingly, she turned him down. He said it was delicious though. He must be a regular because he also told us how much he enjoyed what he had last night when he was here. If you visit I would recommend you get one of the little tables in the enclave next to the window up front. That looked like the neatest place to sit and you could look out at busy Broadway.
I had a mojito, quite good, quite refreshing.
902) Pipa Tapas
This place is just off Broadway on 19th. This is the closest thing to a Spanish “cave bar” that I have seen here in New York. They even have one of those plastic covered tapas displays on the heavy, brown cement bar. Of course, being New York, they weren’t about to give them away for free. The ceiling is covered with chandeliers of all shapes and sizes. However, because this place is affiliated with ABC Carpet, they all have price tags hanging from them.
In fact just about everything that isn’t nailed down, and some things that are, have price tags hanging from them. It does tend to detract a bit from the ambiance.
The walls are old brick with what looks to be artificial stone in places to make it look like the place was built into a cave and they, for the most part, are also covered with mirrors (for sale).
Behind the bar are three distressed looking mirrors in old wood frames (also for sale). Below them are coolers with metal doors (not for sale) and on top of them are tiered shelves of liquor (for sale).
This is a fairly large place and the walls are covered with mirrors (for sale). The open kitchen area is to the right of the barand there is a large, heavy wooden table surrounded by dark wood chairs with green seats (the same as the ones at the bar). Fat white candles sit on top and add to the somewhat medieval look to the place. The floors are old wood and the ceiling is old looking narrow wooden beams. If you can ignore the price tags, by all means pop in.
The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I shared a pitcher of Sangria before I toddled and she poofed, this time in a cloud of wine colored smoke.
A pleasant day with another three bars under the belt and, ta da, only 98 left to go.