Thursday, December 08, 2005

Back To Bay Ridge

I headed back to Bay Ridge today for a couple of reasons. First, there are many more bars there just calling out for a visit and Bar Man has a tough time turning down an invitation. Secondly, the Mysterious Chinese Woman wanted to take a friend out for dinner and became intrigued by my write-up of Henry Gratton’s and so that is where she decided to go and I then joined her. More on that will follow.

980) Muses

Located on the corner of 84th and 3rd is this interesting place. It is decorated in a kind of frumpy basement recreation room style complete with over-stuffed maroon sofas covered with throw pillows. Table lamps sit on end tables between the sofas and there is a small Christmas tree decorated with white lights sitting on one of them. In front of the sofas are coffee tables in various sizes and shapes, one of which had a couple of chairs around it. The other ones might have chairs around them at other times but they were currently pulled into a semi-circle in front of a sofa in the back. Apparently this is where the young mothers in the neighborhood gather for wine and conversation. I say young mothers because they all seemed to have one or more young children with them. It added a bit of a strange ambience and I did kind of feel like I was having a drink at my aunt’s place or something. Half windows with dark blue curtains on the brick wall opposite the bar kind of added to that basement look. There was a disco ball hanging in the back and from the looks of the lighting they probably have live music or DJs at night.

The bar itself had a hammered copper top with a wood paneled front and a black footrest. There are two brass T shaped beer stations with a total of seven spigots. The bar chairs are dark wood with dark cloth seats. There are two large mosaics of martini glasses behind the bar made up of dark blue glass and pieces of mirror. Quite classy. Between those is a glass shelf of liquor above that a stained glass circle with an “M” in the middle. A rack of wine and martini glasses hangs over the bar and it is decorated with a strand of little red and green lights.

The chef and manager were having a conversation about adding a new drink to the menu. I think they settled on something with a shrimp in it. Oh well, I have had them with raw oysters so how bad could this one be. I settled on something a bit more mundane, a Dewar’s and soda.

981) J.J. Bubbles

Down the street a bit at 7912 3rd Avenue is this was a classic Irish bar with a tough old broad tending bar that cursed like a sailor in a rough voice. My kind of woman, and she looked so classy wearing a white lace shawl. I would have liked to have taken her picture put she didn’t look like the type that would pose. There is all kinds of stuff in here, old tubas on the wall, dozens of metal beer serving trays, the kind you don’t see any more, mugs and small pitchers hanging from the ceiling opposite the bar and a large blowfish hangs over the area behind the bar along with four stained glass lights. Three crenulated milk-glass lights hang over the bar and they give of a yellowish glow.

The old bar has an inlaid wooden top with most of whatever finish there might have been worn away. It has a dark, almost black, paneled front and a black footrest that gets narrower towards the back. The walls in here are brick, where you can see them behind the stuff hanging on them. They are largely covered with pictures, shelves of knick knacks, and an occasional mirror. Behind the bar there is a small boar’s head and a larger one next to an antique breakfront. There is a bust of Groucho Marx and one of Napoleon (two great comedic talents) sitting on top. There are plain shelves on each side of the breakfront that hold the booze.

They are just starting to decorate for Christmas but there already plenty of very large ornaments hanging over the bar. Be sure to check out the cigar store Indian in the front of the place. There is a refrigerator with a glass door in the back that is full of beer. Groucho’s brothers, Chico and Harpo, sit on top.

I had a Dewar’s and soda.

982) Pour House

Across the street from J.J. Bubbles and on the corner of 77th and 3rd is another Irish bar. This one is wider than usual and has room enough for a shuffle board table, although it is smaller than the ones you find in old bars in Northern Minnesota. Interestingly enough there is a cigar store Indian in here too. I assume someone must have gone door-to-door selling them at a really good price. I wish he had come to my neighborhood.

The bar in here is a nice old wooden one, highly polished, with a brass rail and ten curved silver beer spigots with a few interesting selections. There isn’t really a bar back, just a shelf above coolers, racks of glasses, and wooden cupboards and drawers. There are two tiers of liquor sitting on top, but not a real large selection. They had Jameson’s but not Bushmill’s. They did have every color of Johnny Walker though, Red, Black, Gold, Green, and Blue. Not the new 200th anniversary one though

The two long walls in here are brick. The front wall and a small section of the wall opposite the bar is white plaster with windows with small wooden-framed glass panes. The back wall is half white plaster and half wood paneling. The windows up front are brightly decorated with small white lights and large wreaths decorated with white lights and red bows. There is a well lit wreath and dangling white lights above blackboards advertising drink specials; eight 7oz bottles of Budweiser for $10 and a pitcher of Blue Moon Belgian White for the same price. There are also a lot of police and fire department patches mounted on the wall. There were four televisions going in here, two showing news and two showing soccer.

I had a pint of Staropramen, a beer brewed in Prague, and a shot of Jameson.

From here I headed back to Henry Grattan’s for dinner, and what a dinner it was. From the spinach salad with walnuts and cranberries through the assortment of appetizers (mussels prepared two ways, shrimp, clams, a cheese fondue) to the dinners (I had a Gaelic steak, delicious, the Mysterious Chinese Woman had lamb chops and there were no leftovers, and our friend had a shrimp pasta dish made special because she doesn’t care for anything spicy). We finished it off with a chocolate concoction topped with ice cream. The chef in here, Martin, came over and chatted with us. He wanted to make sure I said he was the one who put up the Christmas decorations and that Barry was just holding the ladder for him.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman And Chef Martin

We ate our dinner under the watchful eye of Saint Nick, so we had to be nice.

The dining area is every bit as cozy as the area up front with the bar and there was a cheerful little fire in a fireplace back here. It really did have the feel of eating in someone’s private dining room. A most enjoyable evening and I would gladly come back again and bring more friends.


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