A friend of mine, Allen decided to take the Amtrak into Manhattan today from Pennsylvania and we managed to hook up and hit a few bars. Allen, you may remember, is the fellow who invited me to attend a Yankees game with him and his buddies earlier in the year. Always a good time when he shows up. By the way, if his girlfriend is reading this he didn’t have anything to drink (now I will burn in Hell for lying).
This is a great old Irish pub, the way they used to be, not far from Penn Station over on 3rd Avenue between 43rd and 42nd. There is an old wood bar with a black footrest and wooden bar chairs and beer stations on top. Wooden cabinetry behind the bar had tiered shelves of liquor in front of large mirrors. On each end were cupboards with wooden doors that had had panes of glass. Christmas wreaths and boughs of pine lit by little white lights draped the mirrors. Stained glass lights hung over the bar. The walls are green above wood paneling with a ledge and seats in front of it. There are booths in the back for additional seating.
I didn’t get a chance to take too many notes, I common occurrence when I am drinking with someone and chatting as well. And of course you have so many interesting conversations while drinking. We were pondering whether there were more bars on the avenues in Manhattan or on the streets. Conversation like this can, of course, go on for hours.
I had a pint of Guinness.
965) Blarney Stone
Just on the next block, between 44th and 45th is this classic Blarney Stone, one that hasn’t been remodeled to the point where it is no longer recognizable. The bar has a black linoleum type of top and front with an oak armrest at the front of the bar. There is a black foot rest and the bar stools are metal with round black seats. There are large white lights hanging over the bar but they were unlit at this time of the day. Black coolers and oak shelving behind the bar. The shelves were filled with liquor and there was more liquor on the tiered shelves on top. Mirrors festooned with red Christmas stockings and multi-colored Christmas lights hung above the mirrors behind the liquor. Sitting on the shelf was a dancing Santa and his dancing wife. There were three televisions behind the bar and two shiny blackboards with beer prices listed. Pretty reasonable too, most bottles were $3 and the drafts ran about $4.
This is one of the few remaining places that has an old-fashioned steam table with lots of good stuff. I always like to get the corned beef sandwiches from these but passed today because I was going out for dinner later. There was quite a line of people getting there lunch so I guess the food tasted as good as it looks. I have a friend, Bruce, coming in from Minnesota to visit me for bar number 1000 and I am going to take him here for lunch one day. It doesn’t get much more classic New York than this. There are a couple of large soft drink dispensers where you can fill your own bottomless glass that you get when you buy your meal. There are plenty of tables with chairs so you can sit down and eat. The walls in here are green above paneling and a ledge for drinks.
I had a pint of Guinness.
966) Peter Luger’s
Later in the evening I met a bunch of friends at Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn, right across the Williamsburg Bridge. It is located at 178 Broadway, just a few blocks from the F Train subway stop. It is kind of fun to go there by subway too because the train goes across the Williamsburg Bridge and you get a nice view. A lot of people already know about Peter Luger’s reputation because it is possibly the best steakhouse in the world. At least many people think so and I can say that I have never been to a better one. There is also a pretty decent old bar in a separate room but it is standing only and no foot rest or rail. You have to be tough to drink in here. I don’t think it is really a neighborhood bar, more of a holding area for the people who are going to eat here. And, if you are going to eat here for anything but lunch you will need to make your reservations well in advance.
There is a T shaped beer station on the bar with five spigots and it is surrounded by little bottles of Pellegrino. Three are old wooden shelves, cabinets, and sagging wine racks behind the bar with tiered shelves of liquor sitting on top and glass shelves holding glasses. Behind these are three large mirrors festooned with fir tree boughs and wreaths with red bows and gold pine cones. Hanging over the bar are old fashioned chandeliers that look like they could have once held candles but now hold candle-like light bulbs.
The wall opposite the bar has dark wainscoting going up about halfway and vanilla colored painted patterned tin above. The wall is plastered with Zagat’s Survey awards rating Peter Luger’s Top Steakhouse and various other articles proclaiming its virtues. Apparently the late Johnny Carson once said “The best meal of my entire life was at Peter Luger’s.” Well, as I said earlier, they have the best steak I have ever had in a restaurant and I am about to have part of one tonight (they serve huge porterhouse steaks big enough for several people) once I finish my beer and the rest of my group arrives.
Eat your heart out, this is me and my friends tucking in to our meal. In addition to the steak, which was great we also had shrimp and bacon appetizers and creamed spinach and fried potatoes with the meal. It was finished off with a great slice of pecan pie.
Bar Man And Friends Tucking In (posing, actually)
My friend Ben was pouting because a tuft of my hair covered up his nose in the group photo. Sheesh, the things I have to put up with.
Ben And His Nose Pouting
At least Ben didn't send me back a retouched picture that toned down a shiny forehead like the Mysterious Black Woman did.
I had a draft Brooklyn Lager at the bar and a couple of Maker's Mark Manhattans with the meal along with a wee bit of red wine.