Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Up Above Times Square

I took the subway to Times Square and worked my way through the crowd for several blocks up to 54th and 7th Avenue where I had a place in mind.

910) The Irish Pub

A classic old Irish pub, did the name give it away? An old faded wood bar with a metal ridged black tile foot rest. The bar chairs are old dark wood with black cushions. The walls are all paneled in wood that matches the bar. The bar back, also matching wood, has large mirrors separated by square columns. The mirrors are etched in gold with the names of beers; Guinness and Bass. Tiered shelves of liquor bottles sit in front of the mirrors. Cupboards and coolers with wood doors sit down below. Above the mirrors is a very faded mural of an English fox hunting scene.

There is a narrow ledge on the wall opposite the bar but no place to stand and put you drink because small round tables and chairs are pushed up against it. Just kind of generic sports pictures on the wall, one of Cassius Clay glowering over a fallen Sonny Liston, one of Chris Everet, you have seen them all before, and the obligatory map of Ireland. Overhead fans with tan lights hang from the white tiled ceiling. The floor is nicely patterned dark tan tiles.

A pretty generic place that serves up a great pint of Guinness. I got to sit and watch the World Series of Poker that was on two of the three televisions. Soccer was on the other one and I gather that this is a serious soccer bar.

I had a pint of Guinness.

911) Oldcastle

Right around the corner is this larger and better lit Irish pub with more of a crowd. A newer looking wooden bar with a brass rail. A good sized inverted elongated U shaped beer station with a dozen spigots serve up a decent selection of beers. The wooden bar chairs have plush peach colored seats. A similar looking bar back to the last place but with only two sections with mirrors. The sections on each end have good-sized televisions. There are tiered shelves in front of the mirrors and a glass shelf above them holding their top-shelf stuff. Narrow sections at each end have a shelf for a few bottles and wooden wine racks above. There are shelves for glasses down below and metal ice chests keeping the bottled beers cold. Inverted helmet shaped stained glass sights above the bar have pink and green rose and rose bud patterns.

There is a fairly long entryway and to the side of that are booths in a narrow area. Opposite the bar are elevated wood booths with peach cushions that match the bar chairs. The backs to the booths are gray fabric. Highly polished wood tables sit in front of the booths and “bar chairs” sit in front of the tables. There is a good-sized back room with booths on each side. The walls are deep rose with framed paintings of various landscapes.

I had a pint of Guinness.

912) Faces and Names

Right across the street is this bar with orange wash walls that are covered with paintings of, you guessed it, faces of famous people. Some are easy to identify, the Rolling Stones and the rat pack, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. Others are a bit harder to identify though. I did peg Christopher Walken, but misidentified Tom Waits, I guessed Shane MacGowan, formerly of the Pogues, and thought Willem Dafoe was Lou Reed. Either I am bad or the artist is.

The bar is well worn dark wood with a brass rail and is in a square with a set of shelves in the center holding the liquor. There are round brass beer stations on two opposite sides of the bar and they each have six spigots. The only problem with square bars is that you get to see the what is under them and usually hidden from view, the sink, rags, condiments, the cheap well liquor, stuff like that. There are also coolers with metal doors with a red mat on top where the glasses sit. Brass racks of glasses hang from the ceiling and small blue lights hang above the bar.

You have to walk up several steps from the sidewalk to enter, but then you can at the ledge in front of the windows and look down at the busy street below. In a back corner is a curved brown sectional with tables and chairs in front of it. There is also a back room behind a doorway black drapes but I didn’t peek in to see what was there.

I had another pint of Guinness and headed on home.

A pleasant little jaunt, once you got through the crowds. I hit three bars making 912 for the year and leaving 88 to go.