Monday, July 23, 2007

A Night Out With Friends

A couple of friends of mine, Frank and Kathy, came all the way to Brooklyn from Manhattan to have a few drinks and dinner. I don't know why I have no problem getting to Manhattan from here, but people seem to think if is difficult to get to Brooklyn from there. Only about half a dozen or more subway lines converge within walking distance of where I live. Hell, even the LIRR has a terminal within walking distance.

But, I digress. Maybe nobody in Manhattan really likes me that much.

We met up at O'Keefe's, a bar about two blocks from me and about two blocks from the subway.


I have written about this place before. It is convenient, opens early, and charges a reasonable price for their beer. It used to be a much seedier place when I first started going there, but then Downtown Brooklyn used to be a lot seedier too. The place still has its moments, but has a big contingency of Brooklyn Law School students on weekend nights. During the day it is a mixed crew of dedicated drinkers. It is a good place to pop into for a few.

I had a difficult time convincing the bartender to let me take her picture and then, after she finally consented, I managed to misplace her name.

Bashful (and anonymous) Bartender

I ordered up a beer, a Brooklyn IPA I think, but I wasn't taking notes and was mostly chatting with my friends.

Bar Man Beer and Frank

My friend Kathy and The Mysterious Chinese Woman preferred wine to beer.

Kathy and Mysterious Chinese Woman

We were going to take a bit of a walk around the neighborhood and then pick a restaurant to get dinner. I suggested we head up Smith Street to see what we could see.

We didn't get far before we came to Trout. Now this place has been around for awhile and is part of a bar complex that also includes Gravy and Pacifico. Somehow they are also all connected to the pizzaria next door to Gravy. They kind of occupy the whole extended corner of Smith and Pacific. All are kind of funky in a bit of a contrived way (except for the pizzaria, which is genuinely funky) but for some reason I have never been into Trout before. I figured this was as good a time as any to pop in.

Trout and The Crowd

It is designed to kind of have a fishing shack look to it and I guess it pulls it off if your fishing shack also doubles as a junk yard. Not a bad look.

Fishing Shack/Junk Yard Funk

The Mysterious Chinese Woman said it looked a bit like my apartment. I pointed out that in my apartment I had glasses made out of glass.

Bar Man, Beer, and Plastic

I think I had a Brooklyn Lager this time around. The place was okay, but I don't like to drink my beers out of plastic unless it is a necessity. It shouldn't be a necessity in a bar. I might give it one more shot to try out the food. I have eaten at Pacifico and the food was decent and the portions huge. I did have one bad experience there, however. It was on Cinco de Mayo, 2006 and you could check out the cause of my dissatisfaction if you are interested. Anyway, I bring this up because I ended eating at Bar Tabac that day. And that is where we went to eat tonight as well.

I have written about Bar Tabac numerous times so I won't go into it here. Suffice it to say that everyone enjoyed their meals. My hanger steak was great and of course the mussels that we shared were delicious, as always. I still maintain they are the best I have ever had in a restaurant.

No pictures though, everyone said they had had enough and we were to just sit down and have a dinner like normal people. I was flattered that they thought we could.

Beer Glass Testing

Some of you may know, by now, that my brother-in-law Jim is not exactly an innocent bystander in my traipse through degradation. Here is my first post upon the start of this downward spiral"

Saturday, January 01, 2005
The First Small Steps

Well today was the start of my 1,000 bar epic. It was a bit touch and go as to whether or not I would get off to any kind of a start today. Last night my wife and I went over to my mother-in-law's house for New Years Eve and spent the night. A sister-in-law and my brother-in-law were also there. Today two more sister-in-laws showed up along with another brother-in-law and three young neices. Prospects were bleak until late in the afternoon when we decided to make coffee to go with desert and realized we were out of milk. My brother-in-law, aware of my quest, suggested that we go out to buy some. On our trip we managed to stop at three bars in New Rochelle, New York.

Well, without even having the opportunity to take a nap, who shows up but the usually late, but this time early, Jim.

Hello, Am I Early

So, here we are. I have a refrigerator full of beer and Samuel Adams has sent me two of their newly designed glasses. Hmm, this is a tough call.

Free Glasses

Jim and I were not about to just dive into the hype of the new glasses. We had to test these glasses against our usual glassware.

Belgian Ale Glass

Stolen Beer Mug

But we soon got down to the serious tasting.

Quaffing With A Purpose

Having tried out the old style glasses we then tried the new and improved Sam Adams vehicles for beer delivery system.

Not Just Your Grandfather's Mug

They give you about half a dozen reasons why this mug is superior. Some of which are just poppycock. For example, they extol the "innovative" lip whereby the lip on the inside of the rim creates turbulence that releases the flavor and aroma as the beer enters the mouth. Well, all of my beer glasses have this, and I think it is just a by-product of how glasses are made.

The top-most rounded shape is supposed to collect the aroma of the beer, and this I tend to believe. But then, this is nothing new.

One of their claims, that the thinner walls and rounded shape maintains proper beer temperature longer is simply balderdash. How can less insulation maintain temperature better. Every beer delivery system that I owned seemed to keep the beer colder then these glasses. They get a failing grade on this one. Thinner glass means your beer gets warmer faster.

But, who lets beer sit around long enough to get warm anyway. They were kind of cool looking, and they were free.

Beer drinking always get a bit competitive at times. Please note the redness of my face has to do with my day in the sun at the Yankees game, not my straining to beat Jim at our arm-wrestling drinking competition.

And The Objective Is?

After an evening of testing we decided, we decided...Hell, I have no idea what we decided.

The Aftermath

The poor beleaguered Mysterious Chinese Woman moved through ashamed and abashed to downright horrified.

The Horror, The Horror

By the way, my brother-in-law Jim is an accomplished artist. Here is a piece of his that I have hanging on my wall.

A Piece Of Work

A very talented fellow who sets up stages and installs sound and lighting systems and got stoned just walking into Willie Nelson's bus to get his roadies to help with the heavy lifting. He brought me back a guitar pick when what I really wanted was a spittle coated roach right from Willie's lips. Ah, but I love him anyway. However, if he ever does any work for a Snoop Dogg concert...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Yankees Football

Today was a great New York summer day. Sunny but not too hot with relatively low humidity. And the subway just two blocks from where I live was actually running this Sunday. This was good, because in about half an hour it can whisk me to Yankee Stadium. My good friend Allen gave me tickets to meet him and a bunch of his buddies so up to the Bronx I went.

I always allow myself plenty of time to have a relatively decently priced beer before the game and, in my opinion, this is the place to get it.

Yankee Tavern

Of course they can't serve alcohol before noon, this being a Sunday. Who would think that in a city like New York they still have such archaic blue laws. Not too long ago they changed the law so you can at least buy beer in stores before noon on Sundays. Note, in New York you buy beer in grocery stores, not in liquor stores. I guess after about a dozen years someone figured out that everyone going to a Giants or Jets game on Sunday drove over to New Jersey to pick up their tailgating supplies. This, obviously, hit New York's pockets.

But, shortly after a meatball hero, noon arrived and I had a Sam Adams Summer Ale.

Bar Man, Noon, and Summer

Only time for one quick beer because the game started at 1:05 PM and getting to our seats wasn't any walk in the ball park.

For starters, we were in section 33. One might think that would be between sections 34 and 32. You would have thought wrong. Sections run from 34 to 2, even numbers and then from 1 to 35 odd numbers. I went into the section 34 - 32 entrance and then got to walk all the way around the tier level to section 33. But, on the way, I got a postcard perfect picture of the construction in progress of the new retro-stadium being built across the street.

Postcard Perfect

Now, finding our section was problematic, but finding our seats was downright bizarre. You would think if your ticket said Row E you would go to Row E and then find your seat. Well, following the entirely logical numbering scheme of the sections, you find that there are two Row Es. So, seeing the first row with Seat 1 on the aisle, we moved on down to find our Seats, 24 and 25. Hah, you get to Seat 12 or something and run into a railing. The seat directly above Seat 12 is Seat 13 on the second Row E. Our seats were back on the aisle one row back from the first Row E. I guess this provides work for ushers because there was mass confusion up through the third inning by which time everyone finally found their seats. New Yorkers pride themselves on their sophistication, but I bet people in Kansas City don't take this long to park their butts in a seat at a ballpark.

But, I digress. Our seats were really good.

Good Seats

And here I am enjoying a freaking $10 Heineken. I switched to the more modestly priced $8 Bud-Lites after this one though, but I still tipped the guy $2 for each beer.

$10 Beer, Outrageous

Well, if you are going to go to but one Yankees game a year, which is about my limit, this was as good a one as any. I am originally from Minnesota so, although I have switched my allegiance from the Vikings to the Jets, if you grow up hating the Yankees, you will always hate the Yankees.

Ah, I digressed again. This was one hell of a game. The fourth inning lasted longer than many games I have gone to.

21 to 4

But, everyone was a good sport about it.

No Butt Touching Though

There wasn't much of a crowd by the time the game ended (a comeback by Tampa Bay to push it into extra innings would have been exciting). Still, I used the old excuse of letting it thin out a bit before catching the subway home to pop in for one for the road.

I was going to head in here, but it was just too crowded and too loud.

Stan's, But Not For Bar Man

Instead I went to my favorite combination bar, bowling alley, and souvenir shop in the world.

Simply The Best

Oh, I forgot the part about the Cocktail Lounge. A stretch if ever I saw one.

Cocktails and Gowns (not).

Only the highest caliber Cocktail Lounge can ignore the protocols and serve their Tanqueray and Tonic in a plastic glass.

The Plastic Adds A Certain, Essence.

While I was having my drink, a guy asked me if I knew of any decent bars in the area. Hah, little did he know who he was talking to. I told him a bit of what I knew and gave him my card.

My Card

And little did I know, he had been on my website that very morning and knew who I was after he saw my card. He and his buddy and wife were here for a beach volleyball tournament out on Long Beach on Long Island. I have a friend who lives out there and we chatted a bit about bars in that area. They live in Venice Beach, California. Dennis Hopper lives there and I am a big fan of his (almost as good an actor as Steve Buscemi, and both of whom could play me in the movie of my life). Anyway, we exchanged embraces and vowed to keep in touch.

Christine, Sergio, and Denny

After finishing my drink I toddled off to the Subway for what I hoped would be a quick nap before my brother-in-law Jim showed up. No such luck. For once in his life he was early. However, you will have to wait for my next post to see what mischief we got into.

But, just to give you a teaser, here is how the normally placid Mysterious Chinese Woman reacted, ashamed and abashed. I, of course, took the moral high ground and blamed everything on her brother.