Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Spring Street Shuffle

Not too far north from Little Italy is Spring Street and there are several bars along this little stretch. I don’t know whether I have hit them all but I will be back tomorrow to see what I missed. Spring Street doesn’t run the whole width of Manhattan and where it ends kind of marks the beginning of what is now know as the Lower East Side. I know there are bars over there, I have already been to some of them. Fertile area in this neck of the woods.

810) The Spring Lounge

This place on the corner of Spring and Mulberry is also known as The Shark Bar. You can get a hint of why from the picture on the exterior wall. This image also serves as the bar logo, at least on their tee-shirts. The bar is a somewhat small semi-circular and made out of dark wood. It has a metal edged foot rest. The beer station has 12 spigots and a reasonable selection of beers. The bar back is old wooden cabinets with shelves below for bottles and glasses and tiered shelves above for more bottles. Behind them are three plain mirrors plastered with photos of regular customers and one larger photo of Humphrey Bogart. There is also a rack of chips and pretzels. A large plastic shark with a hand hanging out of its mouth hangs above the bar along with a black tee-shirt featuring the bars shark logo. There are also some photos of sharks on the wall next to the windows on the Spring Street side. A nice red stained glass lamp hangs over the area behind the bar and a large American flag hangs in front of one of the windows to the right of the bar.

There are large windows on both the Spring Street and Mulberry Street so even this is some what of a dark dive bar it does have a curiously open and airy feel to it. Wooden benches line the wall opposite the bar with wooden bench-like tables and stools in front of them. A row of smaller versions of the tables with stools runs down the center of the room. The ceiling is kind of a muddy oxblood painted patterned tin. There is lots of stuff strewn about, a collection of beer pull handles, some old beer cans from New York breweries, bar trivia reference books, an old broken guitar, a wide variety of pictures. It is kind of a cluttered place. There are also a few more large sharks mounted on the walls.

811) Sui

At 54 Spring Street is this modern Japanese restaurant, bar, and sushi bar. The top of the bar is a pale green Plexiglas lit from beneath by pale yellow lights. The front is also pale green with little fish patterns and there is a silver foot rail. The chairs are dark wood with a Japanese design and pale green fabric seats. The bar back is blond wood shelves broken up into small rectangular sections, each of which hold two or three bottles of liquor including a bottle of the fables Johnny Walker Blue Label in a satin lined box. For some strange reason a lot of the bottles that had pourers also had plastic cups covering the tops. Maybe this is to protect them from dust but it tends to detract a bit from the fancy set-up. Right over the entrance is a light fixture with narrow tubular lights that give off a soft yellow glow. The lights above the bar are blue and orange and shaped like large, inverted wine goblets. Opposite the bar the wall is painted with an underwater scene on top and seashells on a dark blue background below. The two halves are separated by a narrow light-wood ledge.

To the right of the bar is a wide passage way to the dining area where the sushi bar is located. The passageway has a long black banquette along one wall. Round glass topped tables and black hassocks sit in front of it. Behind and above the banquette are two large fish tanks built into the wall. There are also fish tanks in the back along wit a more elegant setup for dining with tables with white linen tablecloths and fancy chairs. There is a sushi bar that has a waterfall behind it.

The two bartenders were very pleasant and I chatted quite a bit with Christina who served me my flight of Sake.

Christina, The Flight Attendant

My flight of Sake consisted of a glass of Nigori, an unfiltered Sake that is milk colored and has a slight grainy texture to it (quite good though) and the more traditional Ginjo and Junmai Gingo.

812) Gatsby’s

Right across the street it this bar that is much larger than it looks from outside because it is quite deep. It has a good-sized light wood bar up front that has a narrow brick footrest. Just plain wooden bar chairs. An inverted U shaped beer station sports a dozen spigots. The wall behind the bar is brick with glass shelves for liquor. These are above a set of wooden cabinets and coolers with glass doors for beer and wine. Interesting metal shaded lights hang over the bar low enough and bright enough to blind you if you happen to glance up. Just your basic heads down drinking in here. The wall opposite the bar is salmon colored plaster on top and wood paneling below. Small tables and stools are up against the wall. There are several televisions in here including a couple of nice flat-screen behind the bar showing ESPN horse racing. There is a large projection television against the wall all the way in the back. Kind of fancy booths and another smaller bar are in the back as well.

I had a Magic Hat #9.

813) Spring Street Natural

This is a large fancy looking restaurant and bar on the corner of Lafayette and Spring. In fact it is so elegant I thought the bartender should be wearing a jacket and tie instead of just a sweatshirt. The jazz playing on the sound system gives this a kind of 1920s feel and I expected an elegant cocktail in return. I was a bit disappointed because the bartender said they had no Maraschino cherries and so made me a dry Makers Mark Manhattan. I prefer mine perfect (half sweet and half dry Vermouth). He didn’t put in any bitters either. Oh well. He did make it big enough so that I could top it off after taking a few sips.

There was a quite tipsy lady wearing oversized strands of pearls and drinking champagne at one end of the bar so that added a bit to the atmosphere. Another middle-aged woman at the other end of the bar seemed to be in direct competition with her for the bartender’s attention.

The old wooden bar is kind of a crooked L shape with a brass rail. The bar chairs have woven coarse fabric seats. Old fashioned clear rippled glass shaded lights hang over the bar. The bar back is light wood with mirrors, glass shelves, and a black metal wine rack. Another set of shelves sit below along with a couple of coolers with wooden doors. A narrow panel of red stained glass lit from behind is above the wine bottles in the rack. There are large bouquets of flowers at each end of the bar...There is a good sized dining area and small tables and chairs line the walls in the bar area. Immediately opposite the long end of the bar and against the windows is a long wooden bench. A bartender in a jacket and tie with the ingredients and ability to make a good Manhattan would really improve this place.

I had the aforementioned Makers Mark Manhattan.

A good day, sunny, cool, pleasant part of town and four bars. Well, 813 down and just 187 to go. I am hoping to hit 825 bars for the year before leaving for Spain on Sunday. I will also need to take a Saturday off to get ready to go.


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