Monday, May 09, 2005

Visiting The Garden

Well I didn’t get out and about yesterday but did have a nice little family get-together for Mother’s Day in Chinatown where we filled up on dim sum. That is where they push the little carts of food around and you order small dishes of whatever catches your fancy. The place was so crowded though that people were chasing down the carts instead of waiting for them to show up at the tables. Quite a spectacle, if I do say so myself.

Nice day today so I decided to take the subway to Madison Square Garden and hit a few places in the neighborhood. I went to four bars within the space of one block, three on one side of 8th avenue and 1 on the other. I am heading back to the neighborhood again tomorrow.

486) Blarney Stone

This must be a fairly new Blarney Stone at 410-412 8th Avenue, just south of Madison Square Garden’s back side. If it is not new it must have been newly remodeled. Usually Blarney Stone’s tend to be a bit on the seedy side, not that there is anything wrong with that. There is a long bar with a shiny, newly varnished looking light wood top. It has a brass rail and bar chairs with black vinyl seats. Fans and lights with small stained glass shades are mounted on the white, recreation room style ceiling. Behind the bar are a lot of metal topped black coolers with glass doors. Above them is a wooden pillared set of shelves, mirrors, and wine racks. The mirrors have “Blarney Stone” and a shamrock etched into them. There are also four televisions back there, two with large flat screens. Also a quick-draw screen for those interested in throwing their money away. The walls are mustard yellow, the floors are wood, and the place is quite bright, especially for an Irish bar. The have a steam table and the corned beef looked and smelled great. Lots of tables and chairs so it would be a great place to pop into for a beer and a sandwich.

I had a bottle of Smithwick’s Imported Irish Ale. This was the first time I realized it is made by Guinness.

487) The Molly Wee Pub

On the corner of 8th Avenue and 30th Street is this cheery, rather small Irish bar. It has a decent sized, somewhat beat-up wooden bar with a brass rail. A couple of brass stations on the bar with spigots for beer but, surprisingly, no Guinness on tap. Old fashioned looking metal and frosted-glass lights hang over the bar. Wooden shelves and coolers are behind the bar along with mirrors, a couple of them oval shaped. A kind of hokey, in my opinion, American flag with the World Trade Center towers and September 11, 2001 overlaying the field of stars is draped over one of the oval mirrors. Not quite sure it is the right way to commemorate 9/11 to, in a way, deface the American flag. Just my opinion, however. Three televisions behind the bar and one mounted on the wall-papered wall. A couple of glass shelves by the door and a glassed in cabinet mounted on the wall hold Irish ceramics and glassware. There are a lot of sports related pictures and framed newspaper pages (featuring the Ranger Stanley Cup win) on the wall in front. The wall more towards the back has pictures of customers, maps of Ireland, framed Irish currency, and other stuff.

I had a draft Widmer Haffeweizen.

488) Tempest Bar

Across the street and in the middle of the block was this interesting place. The back wall sports a good-sized brick fireplace. To the right of that are two dartboards that see league action. One side wall has brick columns with mirrors inbetween, the back wall is yellow, and the other side wall is red. Dark wood paneling goes up about a third of the way. Benches are placed with their backs to the side walls with tables and chairs in front of them. The large area in the middle, in front of the fireplace, has a dark linoleum-like floor and is empty. It looks like it should hold a pool table. The bartender says the place gets packed at night and people mill about and sometimes dance back there. The walls are decorated with all kinds of interesting paraphernalia including a metal sign advertising a Daisy Red Rider 1000 shot air rifle.

The front has a nice bar with a wooden foot-rest and wooden bar chairs. A nice back to the bar with coolers, cabinets with glass doors and wooden doors that are topped with mirror backed tiered shelves holding liquor. In the center is a metal shelf for glasses. Small blue-shaded lights hang over the bar. The ceiling is deep red and matches the walls. The ceiling has dark wood beams with copper bands around them. There is an interested covered area with benches, low tables, and bar stools. The floor is wood.

I got into a discussion with some gentlemen at the end of the bar about whether or not the “poor” play of a person sitting in front of you at a blackjack table would, in the long run, affect how well you do. This is a recurrent topic among blackjack players because people always remember when a bad play is made and as a result the card you get results in your losing the hand. People seldom recall the times a bad play gives you a winning hand. People’s opinions on this, however, can be very strong. Kind of like a friend of mine, Nick the Quick, who will never play at a table with an Asian woman dealer.

I got a Guinness here.

489) Charley O’s

Back across the street and right across from Madison Square Garden, what a great location. Of course I was a bit put off by my conversation with the young female bartender on how to make a margarita. The menu advertised that their margaritas were made with fresh lime juice and margarita mix. When I asked if I could get one with just the fresh lime juice she said they didn’t actually have any and that without margarita mix it wouldn’t really be a margarita. When I suggested that if she looked up the recipe in a bartender’s guide or simply just checked out the back of a tequila bottle she would see that most recipes don’t call for a mix she said “Well, that is the way the make them in bars.” When I told her that many bars make them with fresh lime juice she said Well those must be really expensive places and it isn’t the way they make them here. At this point I realized it was futile to pursue the topic any further.

The bar is decent enough with orange cone shaped lights that look like they are beaded hanging over it. There are windows on two sides so this is kind of a bright place, especially on a sunny day. As you might imagine, there were a lot of sports related pictures on the walls. Although most of them depicted event held at The Garden, there were a few pictures of the Mets. The wall behind the bar is a deep rose and the others are shades of green. Wooden shelves and a large metal cooler with glass doors are behind the bar. There are a couple of televisions. There is a large upstairs dining area with a small bar that wasn’t in use. I suspect it is for private gatherings.

I had a Dewar’s and soda and, surprisingly, the bartender wanted to know if I wanted it straight up or on the rocks. Most places don’t ask but I think the British tend to drink theirs without ice. Or maybe she was just being cautious after our discussion about the margarita.

A nice sunny day for a short stroll, but four bars visited making 489 for the year and 511 left to go. Most importantly, only ten more to visit before Saturday's celebration at The Gate.


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