Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Old And The New

I headed back again to an area near where I used to live and work again just to check out a place that I used to visit to see if it was still there and check out how it was doing if it was. I was pleased to see that it appeared to be thriving and remained just as I remember it. The more things change the more some things, at least, stay the same.

894) Silver Swan

On 20th between Park Avenue South and Broadway is this small, easy to miss place. I used to duck in here for lunch on occasion and, interestingly enough, they had excellent grilled calamari. I say interesting because this is more of a classic German restaurant. It just has a narrow front with a maroon awning with the name in white letters. The bar top is wood planks framed by metal strips about an inch wide and an almost front edging of about six inches of dark pink and black marble that has a narrower raised wooden edging in front of that. The front is dark wood paneling with metal trim and there is a brass rail. The bar chairs are very ornate metal and are quite heavy. There are two ceramic beer stations on the bar and they each have four spigots pumping German beers.

Behind the bar is a dark wood mirror backed breakfront with four rows of shelves holding a good selection of liquors and a few glasses. Metal coolers sit below along with more shelves of glasses. The walls are kind of a faded pumpkin yellow with about four feet dark wood paneling topped by a narrow ledge immediately opposite the bar. Small metal-jack-o-lanterns sit on top of the ledge.

Interesting paintings grace the walls and, based upon the similarity in style, kind of smeary broad strokes, they are probably all by the same artist. Several small tables with white tablecloths up front and another dining area with forest green walls in the back. You can check out a small swan collection back there.

I had a pint of Reissdorf Kolsch served, for some reason, in a Boddington’s pint glass. True Kölsch can only be brewed within a 20 mile radius of Koln and is supposed to be served in a specific type of glass, a tall, straight cylindrical 200 ml glass. Well, they got the beer right but the glass wrong.

895) Hamachi

Right across the street is this small Japanese restaurant that bills itself as having both a sushi and a sake bar. Well, it did, after a fashion. The sake bar is up front and looks like it might have room for six chairs, but there were only two. The top had a metal top on one side and wood on the side toward the back. The wood side looked like it was being used as a desk with two calculators, a stapler, a scotch tape dispenser, and all kinds of paperwork covering it. The metal side wasn’t much better with a vase of flowers, two glasses filled with spoons, strainers, corkscrews, and stirrers, an insulated tea pot, an electric beverage warmer filled with sake, and a bunch of takeout menus. There was barely room for Bar Man and his drink.

The bar overhung a back of what looked like narrow bamboo strips. No foot rest or anything. The two par chairs were light wood with green patterned cloth seats. On the left side of the bar was a glass shelf set upon four large sake bottles. Six large sake bottles were displayed on top. There is a knotty pine overhang above the bar with recessed lights and slots holding inverted glasses. Behind the bar are a couple of waist-high metal coolers with wine and liquor bottles sitting on top. Behind them are plain light wooden shelves backed by mirrors. These shelves hold more bottles and glasses. They do have a large selection of sakes.

There are a pretty good crowd in here so it is probably a good Japanese restaurant and sushi bar, but a sake bar it barely is. Just a bit of trivia, hamachi is the Japanese name for yellowtail, a fish that is sometimes considered to be the equivalent of a baboon because of their bright red rear-end.

I had a chilled glass of Kaori Junmai Ginjo.

896) Haru

This is a large, dramatic Japanese restaurant on the corner of Park Avenue South and 18th. This is one of a chain of Haru’s owned by Benihana. I can’t remember what was at this location most recently, but this place is fairly new. They do have a good sized bar in here, smooth either highly polished wood or wood-grained plastic top with a textured black block front and a wooden foot rail. The bar chairs are light wood with dark salmon seats.

Behind the bar are coolers, some with metal doors, some with glass doors. The ones with glass doors seem to hold mainly sake and glasses. Above the coolers the wall is bright yellow plastic panels with three narrow glass shelves holding the liquor and sake. Above the yellow plastic is a black and white painting that reminds me of a haunted forest and this sweeps up and curves overhead.

There are tall windows on two sides and a mezzanine dining area. As you walk through the doorway to enter the restaurant the first thing you encounter is water cascading down a large glass panel giving a waterfall effect. The sushi bar sits to the right of the drinking bar. There are fancy cushioned booth like seats and banquettes along the windows. This looks more like a late-night kind of place. I certainly hope so because it was kind of empty.

Oh, by the way, Haru means spring in Japanese.

I had a chilled glass of unfiltered Nigori sake. I quite like this milk white brew with a wee bit of a grainy mouth feel.


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Stop by and check out my blog, and keep up the good work!

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