It was another nice day today, although a bit on the windy side. My friend Bernie and I had planned to go to Bay Ridge with a couple of other friends but, unfortunately, they weren’t able to make it. Ah well, the two of us had enough fun for four.
967) Bally Bunion
After getting off the N Train at 95th I met up with Bernie who was on the train right behind mine and we walked over to 3rd Avenue, kind of a Mecca of bars. It is located at 9510 3rd Avenue and it is kind of hard to miss. This was a very friendly place despite the bartenders refusal to let me take her picture for posting on this blog. She said she had a bad experience once with her picture appearing on the internet. Oh well, you win some and you lose some. The bar had a white top with an oak arm rest and front. Two beer stations with four spigots each sit on the bar. There was a brass rail and wooden bar chairs. Nice old wood shelves and cabinets behind the bar with the shelves holding liquor. More bottles sat on tiered shelves sitting on top in front of mirrors festooned with little white branches decorated with little white lights and red bows. There is also a brass bell to be rung when someone buys a round of drinks.
Above the area behind the bar were three good sized wooden racks hanging from the ceiling that had glasses hanging from them. Clear inverted dome shaped crenulated lamps hang over the bar from the black ceiling. There were also several overhead fans. The front window had a lot of plants hanging from the top and road signs with the names of Irish towns on them hanging above along with lights like the ones hanging over the bar. The wall next to the bar up by the windows had what looked what might be mirrors hanging on it, but they were wrapped to look like presents.
The wall opposite the bar was green above wood paneling. There were signed pictures of ball players along with a baseball that was signed by the player in cases hanging on the wall. A lot of little tables with green tops and chairs were up front and there is a dining area in the back that has a fireplace.
We spent a fair amount of time chatting with a retired firefighter, mostly about fishing. My friend Bernie is an avid fisherman although he is allergic to fish. Kind of ironic. This fellow, I believe his name was Fred, also told us about a bar in his neighborhood that is on the water and has all kinds of pictures and mounted fish on the walls. He said you could spend a couple of hours looking at it. I don’t remember the name of the place or where it was but Bernie wrote it down so I think we are going to visit it next week.
I had a pint of Guinness.
Just down the street a couple of blocks at 8902 3rd Avenue is another classic Irish pub. It has an old oak bar with a brown tile foot rest and wooden bar chairs with green seats. Two round brass beer stations with five spigots each sat on the bar. Coolers with wooden doors and tiered shelves of liquor behind the bar with more bottles sitting on top. Three large mirrors with the name of the bar frosted on the middle one that is partially obscured by a large wreath with red bows and white lights are behind the bottles. Shelves and cabinets with leaded glass paneled doors were on each side of the mirrors.
There are two large televisions but they were both turned off. There was another small one in the corner with OTB showing and that was generating a lot of attention. Apparently a group of guys had just barely missed winning a trifecta in a photo finish. The funny thing was that they came in after the actual race was over so they were watching a replay but didn’t know what the results would be. They weren’t amused by my suggestion that they might have better luck if it was replayed again.
Wide ledges with bar chairs in front of them were against the wall opposite the bar. The floor was patterned light and dark tan tiles and the ceiling was white. There were several chandeliers hanging from the ceiling each with five inverted dome light. There were also several more televisions around the place but aside from the one I mentioned and one showing that lotto-ball game they were all off.
The bartender, Eddie, recognized who I was so we chatted a bit about bars and the life of a bartender.
Eddie, The Gregarious And Generous Bartender
He bought my Bernie and me each a $1 lotto ticket with the number of his bar, 968. Check the papers tomorrow to see if I won.
I had a Dewar’s and soda.
969) Henry Grattan’s
Just down the block a bit at 8814 3rd Avenue is this really nice Irish pub with all kinds of interesting things sitting on shelves, hanging on the walls and, in the case of a suit of armor wearing a Santa Claus beard, standing on the floor. The owner, Barry Donovan, was in the process of hanging a huge wreath outside the place when we walked up and they were in the process of doing a nice decorating job inside as well. I think the suit of armor was going to get a hat to go with his beard. It really was kind of like a little museum in here with an old accordion sitting on a shelf, a violin in its case hanging on the wall, pictures galore including a couple of dogs in formal evening attire, a gold record for a song and an artist I have never heard of, all kinds of stuff. You could spend a fair amount of time in here just looking around. There is also a fireplace with logs burning that just added to the warm and cozy feel of this place.
Barry, The Pleasant Owner
The bar was old, dark wood with the familiar wood bar chairs with green seats. There was an elaborate bar back with old wood drawers, cupboards, and cabinets. Mirrors above those with tiered shelves of liquor and glasses stored underneath. There were all kinds of Christmas decorations such as pine boughs, red bows and ribbons, and little white lights. There is a wooden overhang above the bar that is also well decorated. In fact the whole place is done up for Christmas.
Bernie, Adding To The Christmas Spirit
There were overhead fans with inverted dome lights hanging from the wood beamed ceiling. The floor was wood as well. There is a very nice dining room in the back that looks like it could be your Aunts, if your Aunt had a large theater screen against the back wall (showing ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.”. Everyone was friendly in here and Bernie said he was definitely coming back for St. Patrick ’s Day next year. I will be Mexico drinking green margaritas but I am going to come back here for dinner one night. I understand the food is great.
I had a Dewar’s and soda.
970) Kettle Black
We didn’t have to go far, just up to 8622 3rd Avenue to find our next bar. This place used to be Fitzpatrick’s and just opened as Kettle Black in 2004. I am guessing that it was remodeled and glassed in extensions on two sides were added at the time. As a result it doesn’t have a very cozy feel to it, but then almost any place would suffer in comparison to Henry Grattan’s. The fact that the day was turning a bit gray didn’t help but it might be a lot nicer on a bright sunny day given the floor to ceiling windows on two sides. I will have to say that the black and white tiled floor didn’t add a lot of warmth to the place either.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about this place. It has a nice old wood bar with a very narrow ledge just big enough for your big toe. The bar chairs here have black seats. Eight curved silver beer spigots protrude from the bar. Old wooden shelves and mirrors behind the bar with a couple of Jackson Pollack looking American flags painted behind the shelves at each end. There is a shiny tine ceiling. Multi-colored lights in plastic tubing run around the walls near the ceiling. There are at least a dozen televisions around the place so it would be a good place to stop in to watch a game. There is certainly plenty of room. There is also a dining area in the back.
I had a Dewar’s and soda and Bernie and I headed off to catch the train vowing to return to the neighborhood again and to Henry Gratton’s in particular.
A very fine day indeed with four very nice bars visited making a nice round 970 for the year and leaving 30 more to go. Tomorrow I am meeting some out-of-towners at McSorley's, which I have already visited, and then we will try to find one that I haven't been to before in the general neighborhood.