Saturday, August 27, 2005

Drop Dead Saturday

I decided to take a swing through the East Village this afternoon. Got to love this place, always something happening. I ran into the Drop Dead Festival.

There was a parade around Thomkins Square Park and all sorts of booths inside the park along with a stage and live entertainment. I took a quick walk through the park but, of course, I had other things on my mind.

754) Uovo

Just a wine and beer bar so far but with plans to add liquor sometime in October when their license is approved. It is located on the corner of Avenue B and 11th Street. The half dozen beers that they carried were all a bit off the beaten track, except for the Sam Adams Lager. Only a half dozen wooden stools at the bar that had a black textured vinyl top and a wood front. Mirrors behind the bar with metal shelves in front held the glasses, a few wine bottles, and carafes, some with very narrow necks. A recessed blackboard in a corner to the left of the bar listed the beers and food specials. Deep fried pickles and sweetbread poppers caught my eye. Maybe another time. There is a narrow shelf above the bar that holds jars of what looked to be homemade pickled vegetables. Jars of fruit and baskets of lemon and a major juicer leads me to believe that they will make excellent margaritas when they get their liquor license.

I talked to James, the bartender, quite a bit about bars, and drinks and such.

James, The Bartender That Thinks Like Bar Man

He was telling me about a real funky bar in San Francisco and I was telling him about some of the more unusual ones that I have come across, Trailer Park and Doc Holliday’s being a couple of them. We, of course, got around to talking about drinks and how they should be made. He is also a firm believer in the use of fresh juices in drinks. Although they only have wine and beer now he described some of the champagne cocktails they made and they sounded great. I will have to drop by again one day.

There are floor to ceiling windows on one wall and half of another. Exposed brick on most of the other two sides, the part in front of the bar itself. Lime and white walls from the bar back. A large picture of a brown egg on a white plate dominates the brick wall without a window. There are a number of tables and chairs with tables in the center of the fairly small dining area and benches with green upholstery with tables and chairs in front of them completes the picture. There are also tables and chairs under large green awnings for some sidewalk dining.

I had a Hitachino Nest Sweet Stout and then, because I was busy chatting with James, had a G Schneider & Sohn Adventinus Wheat Doppelbock that was quite good with strong clove overtones.

755) Mercadito

Just a couple of doors down is this really, at first glance, tiny restaurant that appears to be one third kitchen. I found out that there is a larger dining are tucked in the back and to the side out of sight of the bar. The place was bustling for an early Saturday afternoon. The bar is a small L shaped affair with the leg towards the door having a rough wood top and a log-cabin like front. The other leg has more of a smooth grey concrete top and front. Rough wood plank shelves in front of mirrors hold a most impressive collection of tequilas. I stopped counting when I got to fifty.

The bar chairs are wood with kind of a pastel wash in yellow, pink, orange, and cream. The very low backs almost makes them look like kiddy seats. The walls are primarily tan textured adobe-like cement and the ceiling is kind of a lattice-work over the bar, shake siding in front, and bamboo in back. Cement benches line one wall with tables and chairs in front and tables and chairs line the opposite wall. The part up front is one of the narrowest restaurants that I have ever seen. The kitchen area is surrounded by low wall with a diamond shaped mosaic pattern. You can see the heads of the six Mexican cooks busily at work so there were probably a lot of people in the back dining area too.

I don’t know what the food is like although from the number of people eating there I can only imagine that it would be good. The margarita was dynamite, just the way that I like them. They added a touch of fresh orange juice and that is how I make them myself.

I had the aforementioned margarita and just barely managed to restrain myself from having another.

756) Nopal Del Este

Ah, the reason you all read this blog, the arcane information that can, on rare occasion, be gleaned from these pages. Nopal Del Este is one of the common names of Opuntia Humifusa, a member of the cactus family that is also known as Devil’s Tongue.

Opuntia Humifusa

In this case though it is the name of a restaurant and bar at 210 Avenue C. This place is as large as the last one appeared to be small, and made to look even larger by the judicious use of mirrors. The top of the bar is black marble and the foot rest matches. The front of the bar is tan cement blocks. There was a basket of cacti sitting on the bar but, alas, I cannot tell you if they were Opuntia Humifusa. One can only hope. Thirteen bar chairs with black vinyl seats ring the bar. Small ornate stained glass lights hang over the bar from the tan wash ceiling. An arch over mirrors behind the bar with pink illuminated tiered shelves hold the liquor. Two frozen drink machines churn merrily in the middle. There is also a metal chest full of beer and ice behind the bar.

The walls are orange with wood trim and there are large windows on the wall opposite the bar. The tables with orange and white tablecloths are semi separated from the bar by pulled back gauzy orange curtains. The same type of lights that hang over the bar hang over the rest of the place as well. A large mosaic of an Aztec or Mayan temple occupies most of the brick wall back towards the kitchen. There are a few brass Mexican style masks hanging on the walls but nothing overdone. There were a couple of large speakers towards the back and Jaisa, the bartender, said they have live music some evenings.

I got a basket of chips and salsa and they were both very good. Jasia said they make their own chips. She also graciously got me extra napkins when she noticed me dripping salsa on my notes.

Jasia, The Friendly And Gracioius Bartender

I had a margarita, up, with a salted rim. Although it was a bit sweeter than I like them, Jasia said they used fresh lime juice with a touch of margarita mix. It wasn’t bad and I have come to find out that most people, at least in New York, seem to prefer them this way. Maybe because they haven’t had that much of an opportunity to taste any other kind.

A very nice day with three bars visited bringing my total to 756 and leaving 244 to go. I fought my way through the notorious sewer alligators (luckily this one was preoccupied) and took the subway home.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Back In The Saddle Again

My nephew Charlie left yesterday after several days of intense sight seeing that took in Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Central Park, Times Square, Greenwich Village, Battery Park, the Staten Island Ferry, cheesecake at Junior’s, the Museum of Natural History, the Aquarium, the Subway Museum, hotdogs on the street, visits to some of my favorite restaurants (Pete’s Waterfront, Tabac, Armando’s, La Palapa Rockola), and I am sure much more that I cannot remember. We had a great time, but I needed to get back on track. However, I thought I would just ease into it and hit a few places close to home.

752) Gravy

I spotted this place a few days ago on the corner of Smith Street and Pacific Avenue. It is owned by the same people that own Pacifico, an interesting Mexican eatery on Pacific and has a similar funky feel to it. It just opened a few weeks ago but I suspect it might do very well. It is configured a bit like a rustic diner. The bar has a tan Formica top and a white ceramic brick front. The blue linoleum foot rest matches the round vinyl seats on the chrome fountain-like stools. A single silver beer station has only four spigots but three pretty unique beers (the Bud Light is not so unusual). They have Munchner Kindl Hefe Weizen, Whitebread Pale Ale, and Radeberger Royal Pilsner. I shall have to make a couple more visits to sample them all.

The shelves behind the bar were just old wooden soda and fruit crates sitting on metal coolers and shelves for glasses and beer. The glass my beer was served in came out of a cooler and was nicely frosted. My beer was served up by the cheerful bartender Raymond who introduced me to his co-worker April.

Raymond And April

Little lamps with fabric shelves mounted behind the bar give off a soft orange glow. There is a small, unobtrusive television tucked into one corner behind the bar.

The floor is green mosaic tile. The walls are wood paneling and half the ceiling covered with narrow wood strips with industrial-like fluorescent lights. The other side of the ceiling is a slightly curved pea-soup green with round, somewhat dome-like, lights. A narrow strip of matching green separates the two sides of the ceiling and has recessed spot-lighting.

Plush burgundy booths with pale green tables line the wall opposite the bar. That wall is mostly windows and adds to the diner-like feel to the place. Four tables with chairs to the left of the bar complete the dining area although there is an adjacent kitchen and dining counter next door that you can enter either from the street or through a side door from Gravy.

Tucked into one corner is a small fireplace with, yes, a mounted deer head.

Pictures of New York, a couple of prints of an English fox hunt, and a framed montage of old ads grace the walls. There is also a nice outdoor area for drinking and dining that looks like it would be a fun place to spend a summer evening.

I had a draft Whitebread Pale Ale, one of my favorites, and one you do not see on draft all that often.

753) Quercy

Now this place on the corner of Court Street and Baltic Street (why it is Baltic Street and not Baltic Avenue I do not know) has been around for awhile and I don’t know why I haven’t stopped in before. Maybe because the bar is quite small, only four stools. The top and sides are kind of a simulated wood-grained plastic top and front. The four stools are black iron rods with round black vinyl seats. Large panels of mirrors behind the bar with a shelf for a small selection of liquor. Glass shelves flank the mirrors and these hold glasses, an old coffee-grinder, and a large statue of the Virgin Mary. Two large vases holding plants sit on the already somewhat crowded bar.

The floor is large blue and white squares of tile and the ceiling is a white patterned metal with a white cooling and heating duct running down the center. The walls are rose with exposed brick on each side of the bar. Small tables and chairs with a couple of red padded banquettes along the walls give the place a nice cozy, in a rustic French countryside kind of way, feeling. The menu sports a nice selection of wines that are thought were very reasonably priced. The food menu looked pretty good too, but then I was getting kind of hungry.

There are little lamps mounted on the walls and a large framed mirror on the back wall that is adjacent to the doorway to the kitchen. One large painting of a rustic landscape hangs on the wall to the right of the bar. What looks like a wood-paned window is on the other side of the kitchen door. A rustic wood shelf and cabinet with knick knacks complete the ambience and there was French jazz playing in the background. It looked like a nice romantic spot that I can take the Mysterious Chinese Woman to the next time I have to atone for something.

I had a Tanqueray and tonic.

Easing back into the game I hit a comfortable two bars today bringing the total to date to 753 and leaving 247 to go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Apprenticeship Program

My nephew Charlie is visiting this week so Bar Man hasn’t been making his appointed rounds while showing him the sights of New York. This was planned downtime so today was a bit of a bonus. After visiting the Museum of Natural History we decided to take a walk through Central Park. Somehow or another, either despite the Mysterious Chinese Woman having a compass, or perhaps because of it, we managed to get lost. Luckily we found a body of water and men (and women) who had gone down to the sea (well, a little lake) in boats. We followed the waterline and, lo and behold, up sprung The Boat House.

751) The Boat House

Quite an attractive bar and restaurant sitting right on the lake and adjacent to where you can rent boats.

There is both an indoor and an outdoor bar but we didn’t see the outdoor one until after we had a drink indoors. The bar itself is a fairly square dark wooden affair with the bartenders station in the middle. A small selection of liquor sits in the center on tiered shelves and looks a bit precariously perched. I think it might be mainly for show with the liquor actually used stored underneath the bar. The view is certainly pleasant enough and would be even nicer if you sat at a table outside.

Despite the pleas and tears of the Mysterious Chinese Woman, I explained that, as an Apprentice Bar Man, Charlie had to drink his Coca Cola at the bar.

Charlie, My Apprentice Program's First Participant

It is always hard on the women to see the children made to suffer for a greater good.

Mysterious Chinese Woman Attempting To Intervene

Charlie soon saw some of the benefits of becoming a Bar Man, however.

Nylee, The Dispenser Of Libations

There is a nice fireplace against one wall and ample indoor and outdoor dining areas. The outdoor bar looks like the better bet for a drink on a lovely day such as it was, but it was not to be. Perhaps next time we get lost.

Just one drink for the day but it was, as I said, a bonus. This makes 751 for the year and leaves a mere 249 to go. My next milestone will be bar number 777 on September 12th at F R Woody’s Pub up in Ranier, Minnesota, so I can kind of coast a bit until then. Woody is also the proprietor of Woody’s Fairly Reliable Guide Service.

Monday, August 22, 2005

750 At Duff's Part Two

More pictures of the Bar 750 pictures drifted in today so I thought I would share some of them with you.

At some point a religious theme was interjected into the equation.

Bob Wearing His Religious Garb

And Miki As Well

Larry Chose A Different Headgear

Moving From Margaritas To Shots At One Point

More Shots

And things got livlier as the night wore on. These are a few of the pictures that I can actually post on a "family" blog.

Bringing Your Personal Bartender To A Real Personal Level

And The Fun Never Stops

Well, there you go. As I mentioned before, a great time was had by all. Thanks again Jimmy, we had a blast.