Saturday, July 04, 2009

Boys Day Out

My friends Bernie and Bob thought it would be fun to get together and have lunch and a few beers at good and very old McSorley's Old Ale House. This is considered to be New York's oldest continually operated pub and everyone from Abraham Lincoln to John Lennon have quaffed a brew in here. When I first started going here the beers were two for $1.25 which wasn't too bad a deal. Now I think they are two for $4.25 and, considering the size of the mugs and the fact that they are half foam, it isn't such a bargain anymore.

McSorley's Old Ale House

But you go here primarily for the ambiance. It is kind of like stepping into a time warp. And it is always fun to order up a couple dozen beers. And beer is all they serve here, light or dark, on draft.

Ready To Drink Up

The hash here is still very good and that is what we had for lunch. It comes with some nice red cabbage as well as carrots and green peas.

This was supposed to be a boy's day out, and it almost was, except for Bob's wife, the Lovely Loretta. It seems she was trying to exercise to some video but couldn't figure out how to get it going. She ended up calling three times and Bob, very patiently, in my opinion, tried to walk her through the procedure. He said they only had the system for about four years and he thought she might be starting to get the hang of it. Thank goodness.

They Could Dust A Bit More Often

Actually, there is a story behind the wishbones having to do with neighborhood boys going off to fight in the Great War and getting a free turkey dinner before they left. They would hang up the wishbone and then come back and claim it when they returned. The wishbones that are still here are the one's that were never reclaimed.

Not too far from McSorley's is one of my favorite dive bars, Continental, so we decided to stop in. Despite what the sign says, the are not open all day. They open at 4:oo PM so we were a bit early.

Not Quite All Day

We decided to go around the corner and kill some time by having a beer at St Mark's Ale House. Not a bad bar at all. I was going to take a picture of the bartender but he said that the owner didn't allow it. You could take pictures in the bar, just not a picture of the bartenders. Go figure.

A Place To Kill Time And A Pint

The Three Amigos, Bob, Bernie, Bar Man

After finishing up our beers we headed back to Continental, which was now open.

At Long Last

This is a professional drinking establishment, no lightweights allowed. And at five shots of whatever they pour only costing $10, you can do some serious damage here.

Starting Our Odyssey

Two fisted drinking requites two barmaids. It was Dea's first day on the job and apparently she hadn't been instructed in the ordering five shots at once thing. She quickly got the hang of it, though.


The other barmaid, Taylor, was well versed in the procedure, however.


I thought we showed a great amount of restraint, limiting ourselves to five shots each and a single beer. We started out with Bushmills and then switched to the 100 proof Rumplemintz, to freshen our breath. Bob also switched hats. He just couldn't resist buying this natty number.

Taking Its Toll

As you might imagine, anyplace that encourages mass consumption of alcohol tends to get a bit rowdy so they have a couple of heavily muscled bouncers to keep control.

Bob Being Controlled

It was a fun day but, alas, as all days must, it came to a dark and lonely end.

The Dark Tunnel Of My Soul

Ah, not really. The Mysterious Chinese Woman would be waiting for me and tomorrow we are heading out to the Mysterious Sister-In-Law's house for the Fourth of July. Dim Sum and then the Mysterious Mother-In-Law will be preparing a traditional Chinese birthday dinner (lobster and chicken, for sure) for the aforementioned Mysterious Sister-In-Law. Should be a lot of fun.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Back To Braeburn

The last time I was here was last January, shortly before I left for Mexico. I really liked it, especially the margritas. The Mysterious Sister-In-Law's birthday is coming up so I thought this might be a good excuse to come here again. She was with me the last time I was here and I knew she liked the place.


I got there early to indulge myself with a margarita or two. Surprisingly, they have a very limited selection of tequilas. Very limited. In fact, they only had one blanco, Sauza. Not a bad tequila, and it was there well tequila. There other well tequila was Herradura, and that was the reposada. Now I like Herradura, but I like my margaritas made with a blanco. I was perplexed.

The bartender, Kasey, recommended a clear mescal. Hmm, no worm in the bottle, no color, worth a try. And it was very good. Kind of a smokey margarita.

Kasey, The Mixologist

As I was discussing the dearth of tequilas Jean Paul O'Neil, an owner, showed up. We started talking and it turned out we had a lot in common. Like me, he goes to Mexico every year, and loves it. When I mentioned how much I like Paris he said his wife came from there. And he lives in my neighborhood so, of course, we talked about how much we loved living there, the restaurants and bars, the little shops and street vendors. He is more familiar with the Smith Street scene and we had a couple of favorite restaurants in common, Bar Tabac and Robin des Bois Sherwood Cafe. He hadn't been to the Waterfront Ale House, Brazen Head, or Atlantic Chip Shop though, and he said he really liked beer. We are going to get together one day soon and I will give him a little bar crawl and beer tasting.

After about a half an hour of chit chatting with Jean Paul my brother-in-law Jim showed up and, of course, the debate about whether I lived in Downtown Brooklyn or Brooklyn Heights started up. Jean Paul took my side and then beat a hasty retreat. Soon after the Mysterious Chinese Woman and the Mysterious Chinese Sister-In-Law showed up.

The mixologist, Kasey, took a lovely picture of us at the bar but, of course, Jim had to spoil it. He is so childish.

He Does Look Innocent, Though

After a couple of more cocktails we headed to our table where Jim had to spoil yet another picture.

He Is Jealous Of My Hair

We had a lovely bottle of Riesling, a 2007 Kar Tau Ser Hof. It was $43 so not cheap. However, compared to the other Riesling that was $100 it was a bargain.

Kaila, Our Sommelier

I was a bit disappointed in their new menu. It didn't have the same French bistro look to it. I suspect that they may have a new chef, although their website doesn't indicate a change. At any rate, the duck confit, which I really liked the last time, was no longer available. On the other hand, they did have a decent $30 prix fixe menu which, for whatever reason, nobody chose.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman ordered skate, not one of my favorites. She thought it was a bit bland, but then that is the nature of skate

Skating On Thin Ice

The Birthday Girl and Jim both ordered the lamb, and it was done to perfection. Again, not overly flavorful, but it couldn't have been cooked any better. Pretty much melt in your mouth tender, and for a medium rare lamb, that is difficult to accomplish.

They All Had A Little Lamb

I went for the beef brisket, something you don't often see on a restaurant menu other than in a barbecue sandwich. Again, a bit lacking in seasoning, for my taste, but very tender. Another difficult to prepare cut of meat that they really nailed it. Maybe their philosophy is to prepare the meat to perfection and let the natural flavor of the meat predominate. If so, the did a very good job of it.

A Most Tender Brisket

The dessert menu had also changed and the best Key Lime Pie I have ever had was not available. I consoled myself by drinking port with an espresso.

Jean Paul may not like this, and I hope we can still go out for a few beers, but I rather liked the menu better the last time I was here. Bring back the duck confit and the key lime pie. Oh, and get a few more tequilas, although I would probably have that mescal one again anyway. They do make dynamite margaritas here, some of the best I ever get in a bar.

Braeburn on Urbanspoon

A Rant

The new version of Explore, in my opinon, sucks. I am generally a supporter of Microsoft products, but this is just too much. For starters, when you open Explorer now it automatically opens Bing, one of the most worthless search engines I have ever seen, in a separate tab. Maybe there is way to disable this "feature." If there is, I don't know about it.

Second, I have to try to open Explorer numerous times because it usually is just trying to connect but somehow can't do it. And, of course, it is trying to open both its homepage and Bing at the same time.

Maybe it is just me, I don't know. But this is infuriating and I am now using Mozilla Firefox.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Popcorn Machine Back In Business

The Mysterious Chinese Woman and I took a little walk the other day and, surprise, surprise, popped into the Waterfront Ale House for a couple of beers and a quick bite to eat. Happily, the popcorn machine is back in working order.

Like An Old Friend

We had a couple of beers at the bar, the Brooklyn Cuvee de Cardoz for me and the Weimenstephaner Weisse for her. Then we checked out the specials of the day.

Always Something Interesting

The wild boar and duck meatloaf sounded interesting, but the Mysterious Chinese Woman said it sounded like something you would make out of leftovers. Well, her leftovers. Very seldom do I have wild boar and duck leftovers in my refrigerator.

We both opted for the tuna sandwich with the ginger and scallion mayo. As you can see, it was a big hit.

Sheer Ecstasy

Okay, this was a short blog so I will add some trivia for filler. If you live in New York the name Henry Hudson is very familiar to you. We have the Hudson River, the Hudson Parkway, the Hudson Valley, and more. But did you know that Henry Hudson really wasn't a very good sailor?
He was hired twice by Russia's Muscovy Company to find the Northwest Passage, but, of course, failed. Not really his fault, there isn't one. Then the Dutch East India Company hired him to sail around the Artic Ocean north of Russia, into the Pacific, and then on to the Far East. He disobeyed those orders and revised the routed and accidentally sailed into what is now New York Harbor. Kind of like Columbus stumbling onto Guanahani, which he renamed San Salvador, while he was looking for India. These guys could have been New York taxi drivers. On his fourth voyage his crew mutineed and set poor Henry and his son adrift on a small boat and they were never heard from again.

And what prompted this, you might ask? Well, the Staten Island Yankees lost to the Hudson Valley Renegades the night I went to the game and then, on Tuesday, I watched the Cyclones beat that very same team. I should have a few pictures of the game posted in a day or so. Oh, the Renegades are affiliated with the Tampa Bay Rays. Just thought I would pass that along.

And it rained and the game was delayed, but only for twenty-five minutes.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Return To Red Hook

Prior to going to the Waterfront Ale House and the Atlantic Chip Shop on Saturday I had already suggested to the Mysterious Chinese Woman that we visit Kevin's in Red Hook for a Sunday brunch. You may remember that we had planned to go there a few weeks ago but called it off due to the nasty looking weather. That was the day we ended up at Rocky Sullivan's later on after the weather cleared and we got a call from Ellen.

Anyway, while I was in the Waterfront Ale House the friendly and gregarious bartender, Gaid, introduced me to Gene, whose brother owns Kevin's. Actually, I was being reintroduced because I had already met Gene one time in here when Gaid wasn't working. Anyway, I told him of my plans for Sunday and he said he would probably see me there because he helps out in the kitchen. Small world.

We headed out fairly early and were going to catch the Ikea shuttle. But, it was too early for it, it doesn't start its route until 11:00 AM. No problem, we just headed to Atlantic Avenue and caught the B61 bus which has a stop right across the street from Kevin's.

Kevin's In Red Hook

It is a fairly small place, but nice and cozy on a sunny Sunday morning.

Plenty Of Light

No bar or anything. In fact they don't have a liquor license so you can bring your own bottle. They charge a reasonable $5 corkage fee. I had planned on picking up a bottle of bubbly on Saturday so we could make mimosas. Sadly, it totally slipped my mind by the time I made my way home from my beer drinking binge, er, I mean, ah, Who are we kidding? Binge it was.

A Little Counter With Kitchen In Back

They just have a fairly small, but interesting, brunch menu.

The Chinese Dish Wasn't On The Menu

I ordered a small pot of their French press coffee and we both got a free small apple, yogurt, cinnamon appetizer.

A Little Something To Start With

The Mysterious Chinese Woman had said she was hungry, and I guess she meant it. She went for the seafood stew, probably the least brunch-like thing on the menu.

Skip To The Stew My Darling

It was not only large, but delicious. The shrimp were big and juicy and the scallops were really good. It also came with a garlic baguette. The waitress said that Kevin had caught the clams himself somewhere out on Long Island. You can catch a glimps of Gene just over the Mysterious Chinese Woman's shoulder.

I had the Eggs Chesapeake which was like Eggs Benedict but with crab cakes instead of Canadian bacon. Very good, and very filling. Especially with the generous serving of potatoes.

A Chesapeake In Red Hook

Kevin's is just a casual kind of place with friendly, laid back service and what I thought was excellent food and generous portions. I will have to pop in here for dinner one night, and not forget the wine.

Kevin's on Urbanspoon

Afterwards we headed to Ikea, the Mysterious Chinese Woman to do a little shopping and me to catch the shuttle back home. On the way we passed a place where they must like Betty Boop even more than I do. Or, at least, are willing to spend a lot more money on her.

A Shrine To The Boopster

All and all a very pleasant morning. And I really didn't need the bubbly.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sunny Day, Wet Nose

Saturday the Mysterious Chinese Woman went to visit the Mysterious Chinese Mother-In-Law. It was one of the nicer days we have had lately so I decided not to spend it cooped up in my apartment. Hell no, I would spend it cooped up in a couple of bars.

My friend Gaid works the Saturday shift at the Waterfront Ale House and it is always fun to visit him and get his cheerful and uplifting views of life.

The Old Watering Hole

Waterfront Ale House on Urbanspoon

I am not sure who the apparent health worker taking a cigarette break is, but if ever there was a case where "physician, heal thyself" was called for, this was it. Not that I am a poster boy for healthy living.

Sam And Gaid (Archive)

Entering the Waterfront Ale House I was saddened to see this sight.

OH NO!!!

The broken popcorn machine meant that I wouldn't be having lunch today. On the other hand, if it is true that when it comes to beer there is a porkchop in every bottle, I didn't go hungry.

I started out with a Weihenstephaner 1809 Berliner Style Weisse, brewed by Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan in Freising, Germany. It was a really intense flavor with a lot of citrus and cloves. Really delicious and, at a relatively mild 3.7% alcohol so you could enjoy this all afternoon on a hot summer day.

This beer is reputed to have originated with the Huguenots as they traveled through France to Flanders. In 1809 Napoleon thought so much of it he called it the Champagne of the North. He preferred drinking it with a bit of syrup to cut the tartness but I prefer it straight.

I followed this up with a Sam's Serious Pilsner. This is another one of Sam's custom brews. I have to say that it didn't compare to his Serious Maibock. It is another collaboration between Sam and Greg Zaccardi, owner of High Point Brewing Co. I will give this another try because my palate may have been compromised by the overly flavorful Weishenstephaner.

My final brew here was the Brooklyn Brewery Cuvee de Cardoz. Wow!!! Another hit by Brooklyn Brewery. This beer easily stood up to the Weishenstephaner. Plenty of spicy and peppery flavor. Just dynamite. And it went down every bit as easily as the Weishenstephaner but be cautious, it is a hefty 8.5% alcohol and is considered to be a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. By all means, get your hands on one if you get a chance.

Well, that was my usual three beers for an afternoon and I really should have headed home. But the night before I saw a segment on the Travel Channel about the Atlantic Chip Shop, a place I have visited before because they have a dynamite selection of British beers and ales, and decided to stop by.

Just A Hop And A Skip To Chip

Chip Shop on Urbanspoon

Depending on your point of view, Bar Man's or the Mysterious Chinese Woman's, things either started to get rolling here (Bar Man's view) or went seriously downhill (Mysterious Chinese Woman's view).

I started out with a York Bitter that they had in a cask. This had a nice balance between the malt and the hops, but it remained true to its name by being a bit, well, bitter. It was a reasonable 4.2% but I wouldn't be drinking it all day. It was a bit warm, in my opinion. Now I know, cask ales aren't meant to be served cold, but they should be cool. Room temperature really means cellar temperature, not the temperature of a bar on a warm summer day.

There was a nice couple sitting at the bar and I got into a conversation with them. They, and I don't remember there names, said they were just recently married and about to move to Charlseston. The fellow recommended that I try the Lagunitas Brown Shugga.

Hey, It Was Their Fault, Really

Too bad they are leaving the neighborhood, though. They were a lot of fun to talk to.

Anyway, the Brown Shugga is a deadly 9.5% and this probably wasn't exactly what I needed at that point. Went down as smooth as, well, brown shugga. Major maltiness and virtually no discernable hops. Certainly one I would have again, under close supervision. It was a bit heavy though, so to cleanse my palate before toddling (I call it toddling, the Mysterious Chinese Woman calls it staggering) home I had an Old Speckled Hen.

Cleansing The Palate

Old Speckeled Hen is one of my favorite beers and you seldom find it on tap. It is an ale and comes in at 5.2% so it is quaffable. Kind of a caramel and honey nose to it and very smooth. Not overly sweet, though. This is a beer I can easily drink all day long. Glad to know that this place usually has it. Of course it is still hard for me to make it past Waterfront Ale House. Usually I have to circle around and approach it from the other side.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Take Me Out To The...?

Headed out to a Staten Island Yankees game on Staten Island last Friday. The day had been fairly clear and I didn't pay attention to the evening's forecast. Not that it would have made any difference, I am a glutton for punishment.

It is funny how some subway stations in New York, most actually, are real pits. Dark, garbage strewn, rat infested, paint peeling pits. And then some, like the one by the Staten Island Ferry are really nice. Almost as nice as the ones you see in Paris and Rome. And they recently redid the Staten Island Ferry Teminal too, so it is also quite nice. On this day they even had a little green market going.

You Can Shop On The Way Home

Bakery Supplies Too

And, after a short wait, our transportation arrived. There is plenty of room, but of course everyone either wants to sit outside or get in line for a beer.

The Herd Stampedes

Ah, lovely blue skies, perfect for a little sailing.

A Day Trip On The Bay

And a lovely view of Manhattan, but with a few fluffy clouds rolling in.

Ominous Sign

We got to within about fifty yards of the stadium and the gentle breeze turned into a howling gale. Caps were flying, a mini-dust storm came up, and everyone started running. We managed to make it inside and under cover just before the deluge.

The Storm Rolls In

No surprise, there was a rain delay.

Stating The Obvious

It wasn't as though there wasn't entertainment though. We got to watch the ground crew covering and uncovering the field, and fighting the gusting winds while doing it



Battling The Wind

We have excellent seats, right behind the visitor's dugout on the firstbase line. But, alas, the Yankees farm club is pretty sad. They were 1 and 5 going in and 1 in 6 going out. It isn't too often that you see ballclub whose lead-off batter sports a .059 batting average. And they made errors a decent softball team wouldn't make. Generous scorekeepers somehow kept the number of official errors to a respectable number, though.

On the other hand, the plan that I have, courtesy of my brother-in-law Joe, is for six games at only $15 per game. And free hotdogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken and softdrinks through the seventh inning, and you can go back as often as you want. The hotdogs were just okay but the hamburgers and grilled chicken were really good. The beer, and decent beers too, are a reasonable $5.25. I had a couple of Sam Adams Summer brews and a Blue Moon. And you get a free ticket for a real Yankees game too incluced in the package as well.

We stuck it out until the end of the game, a bit past midnight, and watched the Saturday morning fireworks.

Bringing In A New Day

Luckily, the Staten Island Ferry runs all night long so we caught the 1:00 A.M. ferry back and then caught the N train after a fairly long wait. We finally made it home about 2:30 A.M.

Tuesday I will be going out to Coney Island to see my team, the Cyclones. They will be playing the same team the Staten Island Yankees (real clever name) played; the Hudson Valley Rebels. The Cyclones started off their season winning 2 from the Staten Island Yankees, doing much better than their big brothers did against the real Yankees in their recent subway series. They lost the first two game in this, the second three game subway series and have been outscored 29 to 1 during the last three games against the Yankees.