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May 2, 2012

Your First Look at The Bar at Peaches

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Last night, Bed-Stuy got its newest bar. The folks at Peaches have renovated the space where Bread-Stuy used to be and turned it into a bar for folks in the neighborhood to hang out, chat and enjoy each other's company. It's a much needed addition to the neighborhood and I'm looking forward to spending long evenings bending elbows at the bar or holed up in a window seat on a summer's day.

Before they opened, owners Craig & Ben let me in to get a first look at the place. They're also our first confirmed stop on the next Bed-Stuy Crawl, which will tour Lewis Avenue on Saturday, June 2nd.

See more photos of the space after the jump...

Continue reading "Your First Look at The Bar at Peaches" »

April 11, 2012

This weekend, Bed-Stuy Crawl returns!

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This Saturday, April 14th, Nicole Taylor, Alisha Miranda and I will be hosting our second installment of our Bed-Stuy Crawl series.

Having lived in Bed-Stuy since I was a kid, I have to say there hasn't been a more exciting time to live in the neighborhood. As recently as five years ago, the idea of being able to spend a Saturday evening out with friends without leaving the bounds of Bed-Stuy was pretty unlikely. Your options were to hang out at an old man bar or to spend the whole time at one of a handful of scattered restaurants around the area. That's all changed. And it's pretty great.

If you missed the first Bed-Stuy Crawl back in February, here's your chance to make it up to yourself. Last time, led a group of 40 from Fulton Grand on the Clinton Hill border to Breucklen Cellars, Vodou Lounge and finally Black Swan. It was an amazing time and we're doing it all over again this weekend. Check out the plan for this weekend's festivities after the jump.

Continue reading "This weekend, Bed-Stuy Crawl returns!" »

April 1, 2012

Self-Promotion: Ten Bells Photo on Travel + Leisure Site

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Last month, Travel + Leisure used one this photo from LES Wine Bar, Ten Bells in their slideshow of America's Best Wine Bars. I was really excited to work with T+L and hope to get a chance to work with them again in the future.

February 1, 2012

This Weekend: Bed-Stuy Crawl

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There's so much going on in Bed-Stuy these days. It seems like a month doesn't go by that a new bar or restaurant isn't opening up to much interest and curiosity of its neighbors.

My friends Alisha and Nicole and I are hosting a crawl of some of the neighborhood's new(ish) watering holes this weekend and I'd love for you to join us. For $25 you get discounts, deals and tastings as we make our way around the neighborhood.

Find out more information and buy tickets at the Bed-Stuy Crawl eventbrite page and keep up on the news on twitter by following #bedstuycrawl.

July 14, 2011

Bars: The Way Station, Prospect Heights' Doctor Who-themed bar

A Doctor Who themed bar in Prospect Heights. It's #geektastic #Brooklyn #bars

This spring, Tammi and I fell down the rabbit hole that is Doctor Who. We spent about a month consuming episode after episode of five seasons of the British Sci-fi series and have been coming back for more ever since. So, when a friend mentioned that there was a bar in Prospect Heights with a Doctor Who theme, we showed up at their doorstep within days.

It's called the Way Station and as you see here, they've got a Tardis, the big blue box at the center of the series, in the middle of the bar. It serves as the restroom - and yes, it is bigger on the inside.

I randomly posted this on my digital Tumblr a week ago and was subsequently hit with a barrage of 'where is it?!' messages and reblogs. I answered there, but since there is clearly a following, I figured I'd post it here as well.

The Way Station, 683 Washington Avenue, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

July 7, 2011

Philly: Frankford Hall Opens in Fishtown

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For Memorial Day Weekend, Tammi and I took a trip down to Philadelphia. High on my agenda for the weekend was to check out the new beergarden in Fishtown, called Frankford Hall. Check it out after the jump...

Continue reading "Philly: Frankford Hall Opens in Fishtown" »

May 4, 2011

Analog: Black & White Bars

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In all my analog experiments, I don't often shoot black & white. I just love color too much to act like it isn't there. Yet, occasionally, I come across results like this shot I took at Hanson Dry in Clinton Hill and a couple others (after the jump).

Continue reading "Analog: Black & White Bars" »

April 20, 2011

Barcelona: La Cerveteca

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If there's anything I really find myself missing when traveling abroad, it's the availability of good beer. In Barcelona, we imbibed in wonderful cavas and red wines, but when it came to beer, nearly the selection everywhere boiled down to international mass-market dreck and a few, slightly better imports like San Miguel, the Filipino beer I discovered in Hong Kong. If ever there's an American beer, it's the worst of the big brands that made it all the way across the Atlantic.

So, it caught my attention when we passed Le Cerveteca. It looks more like a shop than a bar and in the window, there were signs up with the logo for the Victory Brewing Co., a Pennsylvania-based brewery known for it's quality, hop-laden beers.

Continue reading "Barcelona: La Cerveteca" »

March 20, 2011

Brooklyn: Hanson Dry opens in Clinton Hill

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Before I can begin to enjoy Hanson Dry, I have to forgive it first. The new bar on Fulton Street in Clinton Hill occupies the formerly blocked up storefront that hosted one of my favorite graffiti pieces in Brooklyn. The silver ESPO work with the Stevie Wonder quote, "Did you know that true love asks for nothing" was a landmark for me for ages. Months ago, it disappeared behind wooden construction boards. When it was all over, windows had returned and a new bar, Hanson Dry was open for business.

I'd love to trash it for being gentrifying nonsense with annoying clientele, but I actually quite enjoyed it. Last week, Tammi and I went and stuck around several rounds longer than intended listening to the bartender's iPod selections and relaxing. The music could have been titled 'the best of Clay's college years' and led to my assertion that 1996 was the best year for hip-hop and R&B potentially in the entire decade.

The strip of Fulton between Vanderbuilt and Franklin has been on the verge for some time. With Bar Olivino, Hot Bird around the corner and new bars like Hanson Dry popping up, this might be the moment.

January 20, 2011

Hong Kong: Brew Dog Punk IPA

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After drinking all that yellow, fizzy beer all over Asia, I was craving something with hops. Every beer you find out there, be it local or import, is light, sweet and after a while, cloying. San Miguel was my favorite of the bunch in Hong Kong and The Philippines, but really, it was all mostly the same.

So, I was very happy to find Brew Dog at a pub in the expat nightlife area, Lan Kwai Fong. The ad, posted on every table spun its marketing campaign as being 'punk,' different, possibly 'too good for you.' The idea would be more clever if the folks that make Arrogant Bastard hadn't been doing it for something like 10 years, but I certainly didn't care. It had hops and was unapologetic about it and for that I appreciated it.

I had the blue label, which provided the over the top hoppy experience that was all the range in beer in the US five years ago. As happy as I was to have it, I could only enjoy a round or two at a time. By then though, my palate was more than happy to return to the lighter local brews.

December 28, 2010

Vietnam: Hotel Bars

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At the end of our first day in Saigon, Tammi and I decided to get a little western hospitality at the roof bar at the Sheraton Saigon. The view was gorgeous and the wine list wasn't bad. What we didn't really realize until we got the check was that the prices were also quite western. The typically high hotel mark up is dramatically higher here compared to the wine bar across the street we discovered later, which stocked plenty of good wine for as low as $5-8 a glass.

Whoops.

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December 23, 2010

Vietnam: Bier Garden

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Bier Garden ended up being our central spot while we were in Saigon. After a week or so of pretty much exclusively drinking those sweet, fizzy Asian beers like Tsingtao, Tiger and San Miguel, the option of having an international selection available was really appealing to me.

The more 'exotic' selections available mostly came from Western Europe from Belgian and German wheats along with English and Irish ales. They also had Cooper's, an Aussie beer I've been fond of for some time. Yet, interestingly, I found little relief in these western brews. Despite differences in styles and country of origin, I soon came to find that nearly all of the beers available had similar tasting points. All were lighter in body and sweeter in flavor without much in the way oh hops or sharpness to balance the experience.

The crowd, clearly, was made up entirely of tourists enjoying a pint or three of their home town brew. Sadly there was no such nostalgia for me. Remarkably there weren't any American beers available that I recall.

December 17, 2010

The Stoned Crow Closing its Doors

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Sorry to interrupt the long string of Asia travel posts, but I just heard this and want to spread the word.

I've got bad news for longtime barflies and burger lovers: Greenwich Village bar, The Stoned Crow is closing at the end of the year. If you know the bar, you're already making plans to head over there now. If you don't, here's why you need to go.

For years, The Stoned Crow has been slinging one of the best burgers in town with little of the hype that has made nearly every other good burger in town an ordeal to get a hold of.

In part, the place stayed under the radar by sitting on a quiet block, away from the hustle and hassle of nearby Bleeker and MacDougal Streets. In fact, you've most likely passed it by on the way to Washington Square Park, neighboring Blue Hill or even the Radio Shack on the corner.

Go inside and you'll be rewarded with a laid-back atmosphere, a beer selection that includes some craft beers but doesn't obsess over it and a pretty amazing burger.

Continue reading "The Stoned Crow Closing its Doors" »

November 28, 2010

JFK: Croque Madame Opens

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Hanging out at the airport waiting for a flight isn't something people typically look forward to, but when I read that Andrew Carmellini of Locanda Verde was going to be a part of a new collection of restaurants and bars in JFK's Terminal 2, I immediately suggested that we get a jump on all that Thanksgiving traffic as we headed to Hong Kong.

It didn't hurt that it is located directly across from that bastion of high end mediocrity, Bonfire, my longtime nemesis in Delta Terminal eats.

Despite all the threats of passenger protests over TSA security measures, we more or less zipped through leaving a couple hours to spare before our flight. All the more time to explore the menu and have what turned out to be the first adventure of our trip. Sparks literally flew. Check it out after the jump.

Continue reading "JFK: Croque Madame Opens" »

November 16, 2010

Lunch at The John Dory Oyster Bar

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Today I strayed from my path of finding Midtown Lunch priced dishes in order to partake in some deliciousness from under the sea at the new John Dory Oyster Bar at the Ace Hotel.

The meal was a splurge to be sure, but was absolutely worth it. In the name of posting this now rather than waiting to make time to bloviate about each course, I'm going to post the courses after the jump with some brief notes. Enjoy!

Continue reading "Lunch at The John Dory Oyster Bar" »

November 8, 2010

Moe's Closing?

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Word on the internets is that Fort Greene's neighborhood bar, Moe's may be closing due to an astronomical rent increase. A lot of things can happen between now and February, so I'm not giving up hope just yet.

November 5, 2010

Bed-Stuy: Therapy Wine Bar seeking full liquor license

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According to Citizen Who, Therapy Wine Bar just got community board approval for a full liquor license. That's pretty big news in my part of Bed-Stuy, an area where the only real bar for maybe half a mile is Casablanca Lounge, the old man bar down the block from me.

Open for over a year now, I was pretty excited when I first heard about Therapy opening on Lewis Avenue. Tammi and I have been there a few times and I've gone in by myself for a glass of wine and to get a little work done.

See a bit more of what's inside after the jump.

Continue reading "Bed-Stuy: Therapy Wine Bar seeking full liquor license" »

November 1, 2010

Arms Drawn Recap

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Last week Wednesday night at Madame X, the Arms Drawn party went off without a hitch. A great crowd came out to support and enjoy the art and have fun. Mademoiselle Lena, above came in and posed for artists and audience alike in the drink & draw. In the end, the party-goers voted decisively for the team of photographers to win the prize of the evening. See the whole set of photos from the show, including some that may be NSFW.

The show will be up at Madame X for for another week, so stop through and check out my work there. And of course, my Seasonal Brooklyn show is still up at Peaches in Bed-Stuy. See all the pieces in the show at claywilliamsphoto.com.

Madame X, 94 W. Houston Street, Greenwich Village, NYC.

October 22, 2010

Bed-Stuy: Liquid Oz Opens

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After much anticipation, Liquid Oz, the cafe and wine bar from the guys who run Oz Home and Hardware opened up last weekend. Tammi and I are particularly excited since it's literally around the corner from our place. Tammi claims she may never make coffee at home again.

Get a closer look at the place after the jump.


Continue reading "Bed-Stuy: Liquid Oz Opens" »

October 20, 2010

Self Promotion: Arms Drawn at Madame X

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Well, there certainly a lot happening on the self-promotion front lately. In addition to my big show at Peaches, Seasonal Brooklyn, I also have three photos up at Madame X as a part of Arms Drawn.

The show is split between photographers and illustrators in a sort of competition. A week from today, the night of Wednesday, October 27th, we'll be throwing a party at Madame X and inviting all to join in on the fun. There will be a raffle and we'll ask everyone to vote for their favorite 'team.' A model will be there posing for illustrators and anyone else to join in on the fun.

For more information, check out the event page on Facebook.

Madame X, 94 W. Houston Street, Greenwich Village, NYC.

September 13, 2010

Self-Promotion: Lonely Planet NYC

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I'm very excited to announce that the photo above from Harefield Road in Williamsburg was used in the new edition of the New York City Guide from Lonely Planet.

This will go up on my bookshelf alongside Everyman's Joyce, Off The Chain, New York: A Photographic Album, Untitled: Street Art in the Counter Culture, and last year's Queens International 4.

Onward.

July 29, 2010

Quick Bite: Cabrito's Border Dog

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Last year, I lamented the fact that I chickened out on trying the bacon-wrapped hot dogs in Los Angeles. The other day, I finally got a chance to try a version of it.

Among the tasty happy hour specials at Cabrito are a selection of 'Border Dogs,' that is, bacon-wrapped hot dogs with yummy toppings including the guac and chicharrones you see here.

The special also includes a Dos Equis, which I'd just as soon skipped in favor of one of the better drink options. Really though, it didn't matte what I washed it down with, it was glorious.

July 28, 2010

Quick Bite: No. 7 Tacos

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Pork shoulder tacos at No. 7, Fort Greene, Brooklyn. 2010.

July 21, 2010

The Limelight Resurrected as a Mall

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I was a lame teenager. I didn't go to clubs or do drugs or even drink much. I spent most of my free time hanging out and wandering the city. But I certainly heard stories about Limelight, then a notorious nightclub housed in a former Episcopal church. I wasn't religious back then either, but it always struck me as pretty ballsy.

This spring the space was reopened as a mall, much to the dismay of many a former club kid. It is a bit of a shock, but to hear some people describe it, you'd think it was a desecration of holy ground... Oh wait.

So, with no real ties to its previous incarnation, I stopped in the other day to take a look at the space. See a couple shots of the space after the jump.

Continue reading "The Limelight Resurrected as a Mall" »

July 20, 2010

SF: Rosamunde's Mission Bar

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Rosamunde Sausage Grill, the closet-sized sausage shack next door to Toronado, the best beer bar in San Francisco, has gone into the bar business.

Get a peek inside after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: Rosamunde's Mission Bar" »

July 18, 2010

Quick Bite: Irish Breakfast

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While we were in Philly, Tammi, my sister and I watching Germany trounce Argentina at Tir Na Nog, a gigantic Irish Pub in Center City.

This was breakfast:
Eggs, baked beans, mushrooms, Irish bacon, maple sausages, and black and white Pudding - black pudding being blood sausage, in case you missed the euphemism.

July 14, 2010

Self-Promotion: Edible Manhattan, The Beer Issue

Tastemaker: Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster for Brooklyn Brewery

It's been a little while since I've tooted my own horn, so here's a new bit of Self-Promotion:

The July/August issue of Edible Manhattan (on stands now!) includes this fine photo of mine in their story on Garrett Oliver and the Brooklyn Brewery. It's actually the lead photo on the web edition of the story.

In case you missed it when I used this photo for POTD some time ago, the subject is Sheila Griffin, a friend who is also a photographer and who I have gone to more than a couple times for advice on the field.

The Edible magazine are always a good for news and insight in the local food world, when I'm out of town, in particular, I've got local Edible pubs to be a good resource. I'm not just saying that because they bought one of my images, but it certainly helps. I hope to work with them again in the future.

Onward and upward!

June 22, 2010

Quick Drink: French 75

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You may have noticed by now that my drinking habits tend toward the beer and wine. I typically steer clear of cocktails, but when my waiter at Incanto recommended Heaven's Dog in San Francisco's SOMA Grand hotel as a great cocktail bar, I wasn't going to walk in and ask for their wine list.

Instead, I asked the bartender to come up with a concoction friendly to someone who liked the bubbles of beer or a sparkling and wasn't so into a strong liquor flavor.

He came up with the French 75, a classic drink he said was mentioned in Casablanca.

The drink mixes cognac, simple syrup and lemon juice in crushed ice, strains it in chilled champagne glass, then gets topped off with champagne. The citrus cut through the liquor flavor, although by the end the pucker was a little intense. Even so, I'd definitely order it again if I walked into a cocktail bar and wanted something refreshing that wasn't going to knock me down.

June 9, 2010

San Francisco by Bartender

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This is probably my 10th or 11th trip to San Francisco in the last eight years. I like it here, I feel like I have a good lay of the land and know a fair number of great places to eat and drink. The only problem is that since I'm almost always here for work geekery, my free time is limited and so I often end up returning to the same old favorite places and neighborhoods and don't get quite so much time to explore.

I usually ask around for recommendations, but this year I've got a theme. asked a few bartender friends for recommendations for both bars and restaurants to visit while in the area.

The list is extensive and if I get to a fraction of these places in the next four days, I'll be lucky. Similarly, if I added links and whatnot to every place listed, this post would never go up. Google's your friend folks, sorry.

After the jump, the bartenders and their recs. As a bonus, I also got a list of recommendations from the waiter at Incanto, where I had dinner Sunday night (more on that to come).

Continue reading "San Francisco by Bartender" »

May 18, 2010

Self Promotion: City Seen at Habana Outpost

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I'm very excited to announce that Habana Outpost has invited me to put up a show of my photography next month. It will run for the first half of June, with photos up on Tuesday, June 1st through Monday, June, 14th.

The show, which I'm calling "City Seen" will center on my street photography, with some photos that should be familiar to those who have followed the blog for a while including a couple of my all-time favorites.

For updates and further details, rsvp to the City Seen event page on Facebook.

May 9, 2010

Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party

A new Hot Bird rises from the ashes

If there was much of a theme at all in my last couple weeks of posts it was Brooklyn Bars. Besides the regular Brokelyn 25 series that I've gotten moving again, I've also posted about a few new choice spots to imbibe that have opened up recently. Above is Hot Bird, which I lucked into on its second night open. I basically got the first shots of the space and thus ended up on Brownstoner and Eater. The place looks pretty amazing, so I expect to spend quite a bit of time there this summer.

See what else I've been posting about after the jump...

Continue reading "Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party" »

April 21, 2010

Recently on Examiner: Snoop Dogg and Brooklyn Bowl Love

Snoop Dogg performing at Brooklyn Bowl

Yes, that is Snoop Dogg. Yes, he's wearing a Yankees jersey. And yes, I I got to shoot him performing at Brooklyn Bowl Monday night.

Yes. Snoop Dogg performed at Brooklyn Bowl. And I was there to shoot it. Crazy.

It was a pretty fantastic show, he performed old and new songs, going through all the classics along with some of his newer hits.

It was surreal standing in Brooklyn and hearing the voice of the west doing Hypnotize in tribute to BIG. More surreal was the fact that he was playing a space like Brooklyn Bowl instead of the Garden. The concert space fits 600 people, which can be huge or intimate depending on the show. The venue has become one of my favorites to cover, not just because of the amazing acts they book, but also the food and a choice beer selection. Without turning into a shill for the place, let me just say that I'd be coming here regularly even if I wasn't shooting for Examiner.

I Love Vinyl Party at Brooklyn Bowl

I've been there a lot lately, covering I Love Vinyl's first Brooklyn party and the night before I shot the Air Guitar Regional Championships, which was a whole lot of ridiculous.

Air Guitar World Championships at Brooklyn Bowl

Like I said, ridiculous.

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I didn't spend all my venue love on Brooklyn Bowl. I did find myself at The Bell House a few times this month. Last week, I went to a blogger meet up hosted by Brooklyn Based, FIPS and Brokelyn. That was a lot of fun just for finally being able to put faces to names.

Good Spirits at The Bell House

A week earlier, I was also at Bell House grazing through the snacks and cocktails on hand at Good Spirits, Edible Brooklyn's tribute to food and booze in the better borough. The spicy red sangritas that this lady was pouring as chasers was probably my favorite drinks of the night, which probably goes to show that liquor is wasted on me.

That's all just a bit of what I've been posting about this month. Habana Outpost reopened for the season and I'm starting up the Brokelyn 25 bar survey again this week after a bit of a hiatus. So, stay tuned.

April 5, 2010

Bar Sputnik Closed Down

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I was disappointed this weekend to find Sputnik, on the Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill border shuttered with an 'out of business' sign on the door.

After years of wanting to go, I only ended up there twice. Last fall, I was there two weeks in a row, shooting Pharoahe Monch and Brand Nubian for some of my first Examiner columns. With Evil D on the turntables and legends literally inches away, it was Hip-hop at its finest.

I wasn't anywhere near a regular, but I'm sad to see it go.

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April 2, 2010

Seattle: The Alibi Room

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On my first day in Seattle, I came across the Alibi Room, just downstairs from Pike Market and across the path from the Gum Wall. Despite being in the heart of one of the biggest tourist attractions in town, the bar was subdued, comfortable and pleasant.

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The beer selection was mostly local, as would be expected in this part of the world. I sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender, who turned out to be one of the owners. He told me a bit of the history of the place. It had been owned by some actors, including Tom Skerritt for a time before he and his partners bought it.

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They sell small pizzas there, and after smelling it for a couple rounds, I couldn't resist ordering one. I presumed that they were typical bar-sized pizza that make a good fit for one. Instead I got this giant, which I couldn't finish even though I hadn't eaten since landing in town several hours earlier.

Alibi Room. 85 Pike St at Post Alley # 410, Seattle. 206.623.3180

February 20, 2010

This Week in Examiner: Beer and Bands in Brooklyn

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I know, the alliteration is awesome, right? Wait, it's not? Oh well. There's more coming. I've launched a series on Examiner based on Brokelyn's Beer Book that I mentioned in last week's Examiner round up. I'm calling it The Brokelyn 25 and the plan is to go through all 25 of the bars included in the Beer Book and post about them.

It's a pretty great excuse to explore some of the cool bars that I've always meant to check out and more than a few that I'd never heard of before. So far, I've posted about my Williamsburg crawl.

I've mixed the new with the old favorites and enjoyed some time at each place taking in the atmosphere and color of each place. There was Thrash Metal, pizza and a shot of Jim Beam at The Charleston. That place completely took me back to my days hanging out at dives in the East Village ten years ago.

The Brooklyn Brewery is still the same as ever, picnic tables, beer tokens and folks hanging out with friends. It was my first destination in Williamsburg and is still a good time.

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I finished up with Brooklyn Bowl, which I get out to often for shows, but rarely get to just sit at the bar. While there I had my most entertaining moment thus far, when this guy decided to take his share of a pitcher with a straw. Who needs a glass?

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The only music photography I've done recently has been last week when I covered the Brooklyn Tea Party. No, it's not a political group. It's a lot more interesting than that. BTP is a loft apartment that has been transformed into a music studio and performance space by the guys who live there. All three are in music in some way or another and they use their expertise and network of friends to put together a regular party where friends and fans come together and share music with one another.

When I first heard about it through a friend who was performing, I rolled my eyes and thought it was elitist hipster bullshit. But after experiencing it, I'm really impressed by the love and effort that goes into it. The music was interesting and eclectic and the performances all balanced one another very well.

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Continue reading "This Week in Examiner: Beer and Bands in Brooklyn" »

February 3, 2010

Quick Bite: Bad Billy's Mini Tuna Tacos

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When I first started coming to Aspen, the space where Bad Billy's was Cooper Street Ale House, one of the few divey bars in town. It was always a little too fratty for me, but you take what you can get.

When I got here last year, the place looked more or less the same, but the name had changed. I popped in for wings or whatever, but didn't really see any huge difference.

What I discovered is that Bad Billy's elevated the bar food in a pretty wonderful way.

Up top are the mini tuna tacos made with seared sushi-grade tuna sourced from sister restaurant, Kenichi, one of the nicer sushi restaurants in town. Wrapped in blistered, fried corn tortillas, they make an awesome one or two bite snack.

I followed that up with more 'traditional' fish tacos with beer battered fish on flour tortillas.

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On another visit, I popped in with some co-workers and we partook in the $15 pitchers and played some music on the internet-enabled jukebox.

Bad Billy's
508 East Cooper Avenue, Aspen, CO‎
970.925.9225‎

February 2, 2010

Aspen: Grape Bar

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One of my favorite places in Aspen from the last few years has been The Wine Spot in the Hyatt Grand Aspen. I enjoyed the cushy, comfortable wine bar not just for the wine, the big leather seats and the real wood fireplace. But I also really liked the friendly owner, Seth, who always had some good conversation and recommendations for food and drink elsewhere in town.

So, I was pretty sad to find that the bar has changed ownership. It's now called Grape Bar. The space is all the same, the fireplace is still roaring and the wine selection is still good. And pretty cheap, with a bunch of wines available at $6 a glass.

Even so, part of being a barfly is enjoying the company of your bartender. When that's gone, you miss it.

Despite that, Ive been there a few times this trip and still enjoy sitting by the fire and getting away from the madness of the rest of town.

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January 29, 2010

Philly: Swift Half

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After checking out the new Northern Liberties Farmers Market, Tammi and I had brunch at Swift Half. When we were there over the summer, we sat out there with drinks over the afternoon and watched life go by on the Piazza.

This time, it was too cold for all that, so we sat inside and split a few items on the menu.


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We had some good stuff, but the most memorable was the b.e.l.t., a blt with a fried egg in it. The bacon was so amazingly smokey, it tasted like it just came off of the grill. We also had an order of short rib sliders topped with a dollop of horseradish.

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Interestingly, the menu also offered some custom cocktails. Tammi tried the Ghost of Mary, a bloody mary made with a lighter tomato water and rimmed with black pepper and salt. I'm not one for cocktails, but it was actually pretty good. Tammi can't stand tomato juice, so enjoyed it a lot more than a traditional one, but still couldn't get through the whole thing before the tomato flavor got to be a little much for her.

Swift Half is owned by the same folks as Good Dog, a long time favorite of mine in Center City. Just like there, the beer selection is great and the vibe is casual. The service was a bit slow, but it was friendly and we had a good time.

Swift Half,
1001 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA 19123-1656
215.923.4600


January 28, 2010

Quick Bite: Standard Tap's Summer Soft Shell

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I know it's snowing in New York today and obviously, it's cold here in Aspen, so here's a glimpse back at summer time.

Since I'm posting about our recent weekend in Philadelphia anyway, I thought I'd post this quick shot of the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich I had at Standard Tap when we were in town over the summer. This time around we just had lingering drinks there after walking around Northern Liberties, but it's still one of my favorite places for food or drink in the area.

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Standard Tap
901 North 2nd Street, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, PA 19123-2301
215.238.0630

January 23, 2010

This Week on Examiner: Adding some culture

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This week I went a little outside my usual area of coverage on Examiner. Jazz and Poetry are both art forms that I respect, yet know little about. So, I jumped in and covered a bit of both.

Nearly every venue in town this week has been hosting benefits for charities providing aid and service to Haiti's Earthquake victims. With so much else going on this week, I only got to cover one of them, L'Union Fait Force at Le Poisson Rouge.

The coolest part of the show was watching the Doctor Lonnie Smith Trio perform with Trumpeter Roy Hargrove. Smith (top) is a great showman whose flair added excitement to the show. Hargrove on the horn was wonderful.

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There was plenty more going on: Dance, Haitian drums, a pair of guitarists and the Vijay Iyer Trio, which is actually what drew me to the event. That morning, WNYC announced the event and played some of the Trio's take on Mystic Brew - better known to those of a 'certain age' as the basis of the classic "Electric Relaxation" by A Tribe Called Quest.

The show was fun and eclectic and went late into the night. I was so wiped out, I had to take off before the last set even started, missing hosts Groove Collective perform with Bernie Worrell of Funkadelic.

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On Wednesday, I changed things up a bit with by covering the Mixer Series at Cake Shop in the Lower East Side. It's a monthly series that hosts poets and authors reading their recent work. And first up was Tess Taylor, above, a classmate in college. We hadn't seen each other in at least the 10 years since graduation, but it was good to catch up, however briefly.

I don't know the first thing about poetry and I don't read books nearly as much as I should, but it was a great experience being surrounded by smart people enjoying intelligent things. I really hope to keep going to future Mixers.

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Among the other readers was Steve Geng, who read scenes from his new book, Bop City about Paris during the Algerian war. Just in the 15 minutes he was up there, he touched on themes of terrorism, sex, race, and French culture that fascinated me.

After the jump, more photos from both events...

Continue reading "This Week on Examiner: Adding some culture" »

January 12, 2010

Philly: The Piazza in Northern Liberties

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Tammi and I are heading down to Philadelphia this weekend, so I'm finally taking the opportunity to post some of the observations and such from our last trip in August.

On our last day, we headed up to Northern Liberties, the arts community I've mentioned more than a few times.

When we first came across the neighborhood, it was a surreal point of mid-gentrification. Empty lots alternated with construction sites and vacant shopping plazas on nearly every block. Cute little boutiques stood surrounded by wilderness. Every visit since then, I've noted the progress of development along the way. This was our first time in town for two years, so a lot of progress had been made.

Most notably was The Piazza, the courtyard at the large Schmidt's apartment complex. Modeled after an Italian Piazza, the big open space serves as something of a community center.

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Shops, cafes and restaurants line the perimeter of the plaza. During the summer at least, they all spilled out with signs, displays and outdoor seating. Weekends see an outdoor market where local artisans sell their wares and a DJ spins soulful house.

I'm going to guess that there will be less of all that this weekend. Even If this coldsnap finally breaks, as forecast, it's doubtful to be quite that warm.

What is going to be there is a Farmers Market Saturday afternoon that I'm looking forward to checking out.

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As a New Yorker, a place so blatantly constructed by developers gives me pause. But the glimpse I've seen of how the area has developed actually seems pretty cool. Of course, the perspective of an an occasional visitor is limited. I'm sure there are tourists that enjoy Times Square too. That said, I'm looking forward to spending more time window-shopping and bar-hopping around the neighborhood.

December 29, 2009

Quick Bite: Irish Bacon Burger at Spike Hill

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Lunch in the deluge Saturday afternoon at Spike Hill. I'd never noticed that Irish Bacon was an option on their burger. I feel like I'm seeing more Irish/English Bacon around on menus these days. That's a good thing.

The funky blur around the edges here is from my spiffy new Lensbaby Composer I got for Christmas from Tammi. I'm hoping not to overuse it, but it's a lot of fun.

December 9, 2009

Quick Bite: Bar 35 Pizza

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This may look like a generic bar pizza, but this mini-pie from Bar 35 in Honolulu's Chinatown was topped with Chinese sausage and sweet Thai chili sauce instead of the usual pepperoni and tomato sauce. It was certainly novel and actually pretty good. What I was really curious about was the Gyro pizza they served, but Tammi wasn't hearing it.

December 8, 2009

Hawai'i: Rum Fire

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Duke's and Mai Tai Bar are the two big bar destinations in Waikiki. They are historic and also rather annoying. Duke's is fratty and irritating. Mai Tai bar matches high end cocktails with higher end prices.

At the Sheraton Waikiki, just down the beach from both, you've got Rum Fire. Tammi and I came on it by accident, but found it to be the best place to grab a drink, take in the sights and see the sunset in the whole area.

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I don't even remember how many times we ended up there. This is where we discovered our Japanese bachelors and some great fish tacos, not to mention a wonderful view of the beach, the sunset and Diamondhead.

Here's the funny thing, through my habit of geotagging, I discovered that four years ago, Tammi and I hung out in the same place. Hotel development being what it is, the space was totally different, but when I tagged the bar, I discovered it was the exact same space that we ended up spending most of our last day in Hawaii four years ago as Tammi knit and we relaxed over drinks.

November 21, 2009

Hawai'i: Waikiki Weirdness

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One can only spend so much time in Waikiki before, apparently, your brains fall out of your head and you do something completely outrageous. This is my theory, at least. We've had the good sense to only ever go a few days at a time. But in our few days in Waikiki at the beginning of the trip, we stumbled across quite the oddities there.

Sitting at a hotel bar relaxing, Tammi and I looked up at the group of Japanese guys at the table over from us only to find this guy stripping down to what you see here. I've surmised that this was some Bachelor Party prank or something, but that's a wild guess. All the English we could get out of his friends between guffaws was that he had to wear that for an hour.

He made the best of it, hamming it up and posing with any number of people who wanted pictures of or with him.

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Converse to that guys personal exposure, there were no less than three guys we saw on our first night in Hawai'i walking around with 'inflated' self-worth. They drunkenly wandered the streets and bars and showed off their temporary enhancements to anyone who would look their way.

November 10, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion: The Local

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A moment of self-promotion: A couple of weeks ago, The Local, the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Blog by The New York Times use one of my photos of Bar Olivino.

Maybe one day I'll get in the print edition.
::c::

October 10, 2009

LA: Kogi

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I've been putting off my Kogi post (for months!) because there is just so much already written about the phenomenal hype surrounding the truck. You've heard it all before. It's been on the food blogs, the food mags, trend reports on the cutting edge and even on NPR. Yes. Food trucks are awesome. Yes. Many of them use Twitter. Got it. And really, more importantly, yes, Korean and Mexican foods fuse well.

So, here's the short version:
Long line, great food, totally earns the hype.

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I had two tacos, one with spicy pork, the other with short ribs and a pair of sliders. All were topped with shredded kimchi.

In hindsight, given that the beef on the sliders is that same as is in in the taco, I'd have made my second taco chicken or maybe have used it as an excuse to gorge myself on a kogi dog.

Regardless, much like the dinner the other week at Minetta Tavern, I walked away disappointed that the hype for Kogi seems to be entirely earned.

Being so good means that it's actually worth jumping through stupid hoops like standing in line for 45 minutes or having dinner at 5:30pm because you aren't important enough to score a reasonable res. And that annoys me, because really, I'm rarely willing to put up with that crap.

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The good news is that the little secret of the Kogi Truck is that they sell the same menu most nights at Alibi Room in Culver City. I didn't make it there on my last trip, but it's definitely on my short list of places to go next time I'm in Los Angeles.

September 28, 2009

Self-Promotion: I'm an Examiner

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One of the many factors impinging on my blog update time lately has been my new gig on Examiner.com, a website made up of locals reviewing and reporting on various beats in their area. I'm now their New York nightlife photographer and have been posting on events for the week or so.

So far, I've covered an art opening at Madame X, the anniversary party at Sweet Revenge, and last weekend's I Love Vinyl Party.

If you've got a party, opening or anything else generally nightlife-y going on, let me know and I'll try to come through to cover it.

Stop by the site early and often, as I'm trying to put together posts several times a week. If you want to get it in your feed reader, you can also subscribe.

That said, I do hope to get posting here as well over the next couple days. I've got photos and stories from Seattle, Vancouver and a few leftover from Philly and Los Angeles.

August 25, 2009

Der Schwarz Kolner Opens!

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Fort Greene's brand new Beer Hall, Der Schwarz Kolner opened a couple weeks ago after much anticipation. Tammi and I ended up getting there 15 minutes after they opened. The menu was still in flux and there was much frantic bouncing around by the staff, but the energy in the room was great.

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As the name implies, they specialize in the cuisine of Koln (or Cologne to you francophiles). What that means in practical matters is that you get plenty of wonderful Kolsch beer. As I've mentioned before, Kölsch is "light and sweet, but with a bite of hops that provides a zen-like balance." And thus a perfect summer beer.

We hung out there for a couple hours, sampling the compact (three item) menu. The bratwurst was juicy and well spiced. The pretzels were tasty, but lacked salt for some reason. The last dish, which had an odd (read: German) name was nothing more complicated than a slab of gouda cheese and a roll. Tammi's rather fond of gouda, so she gobbled that up and loved it.

Before we headed out, we saw an off the menu special coming out of the the kitchen: some tantalizing red kielbasa sausages showed up at the table next to us.

It's a testament to both the draw of a beer hall and the neighborhood that within an hour of our arrival, the place was already crowded. I know I'll be back.

(Many thanks to Eater for linking to my opening day photos)

Tuesdays at The Blue Owl

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My friend, DJ Jon Oliver has started a new weekly party Tuesday nights at The Blue Owl in the East Village. It's coordinated with his weekly radio show on East Village Radio, The Main Ingredient.

Last weekend, Tammi and I stopped in and heard some tunes. It was a good time. If you're around tonight, come through.

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The Main Ingredient
Tuesdays at The Blue Owl
9pm - 2am
196 2nd Avenue (12th & 13th)

August 24, 2009

Sweet Revenge BBQ Rib-Off

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Sweet Revenge, on the border of Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill, hosted a Barbecue Rib competition yesterday. Sadly, I only got one rib because I had to head out early, but I did have a good time hanging out for an hour or two before that.

I don't get out to Sweet Revenge a lot, because it's on the exact opposite end of Bed-Stuy from where we are, but it's a fun place with a good beer selection and a spiffy backyard with a 'sandbox' beach area.

Sweet Revenge
348 Franklin Ave
Brooklyn, NY‎
718.398.2472‎

August 12, 2009

LA: West 4th/Jane

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In the middle of Santa Monica, West 4th/Jane sits in homage to a transplanted New Yorker's memory of Corner Bistro, a couple thousand miles away. I didn't get to go in, so I can't say how well the burger compares.

Apparently they just opened a couple months ago and got a fair amount of blog attention. Based on at least one site, which refers to it as being inspired by "NYC Gastropubs," it sounds nothing like the original.

Hell, the fact that there seem to be more than 5 things on the menu and a hundred beers available should tell you all you need to know.

West 4th/Jane
1432 4th St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

August 10, 2009

Lunch: MFC (formerly Bon Chon)

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A month or so ago the Bon Chon Chicken in Koreatown (and I believe the location in Flushing) suddenly changed its name to Mad For Chicken. According to Midtown Lunch, this is a familiar story:

Ah yes- the old open a franchise... steal the recipe... decide you don't want to pay the royalties anymore game. If this whole thing sounds familiar, it's because it is. Shorty's (on 9th Ave. btw. 41+42nd) did the same thing to Tony Luke's. Thankfully for Midtown Lunch'ers one commenter is reporting that the chicken pretty much tastes the same as it always has, but I'm guessing it still takes forever to get your order. Thanks to Lunch'er Paul for passing along this link to the Bon Chon Website.

I stopped in for lunch before a couple weeks ago and can verify that on all counts, things are about the same. The chicken was the same, if slightly spicier and the service was just as slow.

I will say this though, the place did seem more crowded that I had ever seen it during lunch. And the waiter actually warned me that the food would take about 45 minutes, which I don't think I've ever seen before - it always takes that long, they just don't usually warn you.

July 29, 2009

DC: Dinner at Marvin

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On our second night in DC the other weekend, Tammi and I met up with friends for dinner at Marvin. As I mentioned in a previous post, Marvin's menu stars the somewhat startling combination of Southern American and Belgian dishes. Though it seems odd at first, I have to say it worked well.

I had the chicken and waffle, above, which was wonderful. The breading had just the right crispy crunch to it and was complemented wonderfully by the sweetness of the syrup. Even the side of sauteed greens with a cream sauce that sat beneath the waffle mixed well, adding a slightly bitter edge to all that sweet and savory.

Tammi went with an order of Moules Frites, which came with a huge pile of mussels. She was so full from that, that she barely touched her fries. If you knew how much she loves fries, you'd understand how good the mussels must have been.

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After dinner we headed upstairs and listened to the DJ spin some tunes while we relaxed for a couple hours. The space filled up over the evening and there was a great vibe. Good times.

July 28, 2009

Will Der Shwarze Kolner Ever Open?

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I first heard rumor of a beer garden opening in Fort Greene, way back in March. Obviously, I was very happy. Beer. Schnitzel. Outdoor space. What's not to love?

And being positioned a block away from Habana Outpost means it'll have an interesting crowd and hopefully will have a moderating effect on the drives that overwhelm the place on the weekends.

But, I was apprehensive. There was no word of when they would be opening. So, I sat tight and didn't think about it.

That is until Brownstoner reported that they would be open by the end of last month. With hopes of tippling over brats and shnitzel for 4th of July Weekend, I stopped by to find it shuttered.

Last week, I passed by again and the gates were half open. I stuck my head in and asked about an opening date, but didn't get anything more than "Soon come."

So, there you go: Soon come.

May 27, 2009

I Love Vinyl Party

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Saturday night saw the debut of the I Love Vinyl party at Le Poisson Rouge in The Village. Friends DJs Jon Oliver and Scribelove among others went retro and ditched their laptops for an evening of old-fashioned record spinning.

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We weren't there very late, but Tammi and I had a great time listening to the beats and feeling the crowd.

The word is that the party was such a success that they're already planning a follow up for next month:

June 26, 2009
10pm-4am

The Gallery Bar @ Le Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker St, NYC.

March 26, 2009

Bar Olivino

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This wine bar on Fulton Street in Clinton Hill initially seems redundant so close to Stonehome, not 10 blocks away. But with all its success, Stonehome is much more of a restaurant these days than a bar and can be hard to get into sometimes. It also doesn't keep late night bar hours, frustrating the urge for that last glass or two before calling it a night.

Conversely, Bar Olivino, the small drinking outlet of the Olivino wine shop is all bar.

I love the concept, which is basically a Comptoir: A small space, a convivial atmosphere, a couple meat and cheese snacks and most importantly wine. It's certainly small, the place could just barely fit two dozen customers. The snacks are minimal and the atmosphere is fun, whether mellow and quiet on a Sunday evening or festive and hopping as it was on a recent visit with Tammi. When the party is going, the windows fog up and wine flows like water.

At one end of the bar or another, you'll usually find Katrine, the proprietress bending elbows with friends or just quietly enjoying the revelry.

My biggest difficulty at the bar is often with the wine selection. Having shopped at both Olivino branches for some time, I always expect to see more familiar wine available on the menu, but it's never there.

In particular, I'm often lured into the Cotes du Rhone, which is a remarkably cheap, at $5 a glass. It's not a great wine, but Rhones are the familiar region for me, so I'll often order it and be disappointed.

I talked to Katrine about it one night, finally asking her why she doesn't have more of the selection she stocks in the shop. Her response was pretty interesting. She purposely excluded what she calls 'the big 10' grapes, sticking with more obscure wines and a few blends. It told me a bit about myself. I always think of myself as a wanting to try new things, but my difficulties with the wine list at Bar Olivino resulted from a tendency to stick with the familiar varietals instead of exploring the breadth of the wines available.

It's an interesting challenge and one that I readily accept. On that same visit, I discovered that they stock a Pineau de Charentes, a dessert wine that I've been curious about for some time. Last year, our neighbor gave us a bottle of it that remained unopened until recently. It's quite rare in The States, so I was surprised to see it here. This is the benefit of having a wine list that explores new and interesting flavors. Thinking about it this way, I'm pretty excited to go back with a new perspective on their list.

Late Night: The Shwarma

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Showing a bare modicum of discretion, I'm going to call this feature 'Late Night.' This category could very reasonably be called 'Drunk Food,' given that while always good, most of the dishes I expect to discuss are 100 times better after an evening of revelry. I've already covered White Castle and the Taco Truck (as well as other tacos),

The Shwarma, also known as the Doner Kebab to the Turks and sharing more similarities than differences with the Greek Gyro is an internationally recognized celebrity in the world of late night fare. In Mexico, they righteously substitute pork for lamb in the al pastor taco. In Paris, we passed a dozen spits roasting layer upon layer of lamb around the corner from the music row where we stayed.

The massive structure of meat is constructed with horizontal columns of fat which melt down, basting all the meat below. But, I expect I'm not telling you anything new. You've either seen these 'meat logs' around town in one way or the other and either fled in disgust or ran gleefully towards it.

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This particular Shwarma was served up from my go to place on MacDougal near Bleeker in The Village, Yatagan. It's not nearly the only one in the neighborhood. And, while I love it, it's not the best I've ever had, it now has a long-standing sentimental value just for being associated with so many of the late nights I've had through the years.


Yatagan Kebab House
104 MacDougal Street
Greenwich Village

March 20, 2009

Spring in Midtown

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Despite the snowfall this morning, today is the first day of Spring. Wednesday we got a preview of the season with highs around 60. My fellow Midtown denizens and I rushed out and took advantage of the opportunity to spend some time in the sun for lunch.

That evening, Tammi and I grabbed a round at Mé bar, which was full about 15 minutes after this shot was taken.

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Of couse, the next day we got rained on, a preview of April showers no doubt. Regardless, we'll ake what we can get.

March 6, 2009

Murder Burgers

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Tammi and I share the guiltiest of guilty pleasures: White Castle burgers. These usually end up as our late night gorge after an evening of imbibing. Much like the Taco Truck I exalted recently, a sack of 10 cheeseburgers between the two of us profoundly hits the spot at 1am on a Friday night.

We usually end up at the White Castle on Atlantic Avenue, on the border of Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill as we're heading home from the night's festivities. Usually we walk, but at least once we've had a cab stop there on the way home.

February 26, 2009

dba Brooklyn

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As a fan of both original branches of dba, I've been pretty excited about dba Brooklyn since I first heard about it last year. Now that it's open, I have to say, it's all I hoped for and more.

The theme here seems 'the best of both worlds.' The vast, open space is reminiscent of the New Orleans branch, while the garden space in the back is an active attraction of Manhattan bar.

The decor of wood and chalkboards and the ridiculous selection of quality beer and whisk(e)ys of all types is as strongly present as at the others.

As with the Manhattan branch, I find it's a pretty good place to sit down with the laptop and hang out for hours. In fact, that's what Tammi and I spent last Monday doing, reading and pecking at our laptops over beer and bourbon.

My misanthropic impulses are fed by the fact that it's still relatively unknown and on a quiet block off the main strip. I'm sitting here right now writing this post on a Friday night with a reasonably small crowd and room to breathe. That's something I've never known of either other outpost, and I suspect won't last here for long.

Something new to the dba franchise is food. They offer a menu of one item for those who want to snack with their booze. Right now, it's a Muffaletta, a clear nod to it's Crescent City roots:

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Wisely, the sandwich is not nearly the mass of the original. It's also, predictably, not nearly as good. But then nothing is. I only know one place in the world that makes a great Muffaletta and it's 1200 miles from Brooklyn. I'll take what I can get. It's 7 meats and two cheeses on a locally baked roll - sounds like drunk food to me.

February 11, 2009

Lunch Returns to Bon Chon!

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I first wrote about Bon Chon Chicken almost two years ago, inspired by the buzz in the Times and on the blogs. A few weeks later I tried to take go with a co-worker and they had stopped serving lunch. I was crushed.

Yesterday, hours after getting the skinny on Kyochon, Midtown Lunch had another post about Bon Chon. Apparently it's been open for lunch for months and no one knew!

So, today after a particularly aggravating morning at work, I recovered with a Medium Hot & Spicy Combo:

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It was all I remembered: sweet and sticky with a tingly with a subtle spice that builds after the first two, three, four pieces. I stopped there out of a modicum of self-control, but also because I needed to proselytize. I brought back a handful of wings and gave them to the co-workers I knew would appreciate them. My first stop was the guy who missed out the first time. I felt I owed him.

What I had forgotten about was the particularly long wait time for the food. Despite the mostly attentive service and ordering as soon as I sat down, my order took about 35 minutes to show up. So, it's not a quick lunch, but it's delicious.

February 9, 2009

Aspen: The Wine Spot

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My recent visit to Aspen was remarkable for being my least social excursion out there to date. The co-workers who usually accompany me there did not go this year and my suddenly sensitive stomach left me a little cranky and not in much of a mood for the crowds that end up in town for X Games.

The Wine Spot was my savior. If not for this place and Seth, its proprietor, I'd have found myself sitting in my room alone every night watching netflix instant or whatever crap was on TV.

Situated in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt Aspen, a 'residence,' which I think is just fancy-talk for 'time-share,' this place is just off the beaten path. It's right across from Rubey Park, the main bus stop for the whole town, right down the block from the bars, clubs and restaurants in the middle of town. Yet, it's not actually in the middle of anything, so most of the people who actually show up here are those who are staying there.

It was the perfect place to go to escape the crowds. I must have stopped in there 4 or 5 times and there were never more than 10 people in, even on Saturday night when packs of teens and twentysomethings roamed the streets looking for a party.

The first night I came in, Seth greeted me and reintroduced himself, remembering me from last year. It's an interesting thing because I've unintentionally become a regular in a place where people often only come in for a week or two a year. After being reacquainted, he went on to help me find some of the wine on the menu that I'd enjoy.

I also partook in the one food item they serve, a cheese and meat plate:

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Both the food and drink were great, but what kept me coming back was the warmth and familiarity of the hearth, the leather couches and the service.

February 5, 2009

SF: 100 Things to Try Before You Die

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The TOJ, forwarded this link to Guy and me yesterday. It's 7x7 Magazine's list of 100 SF things to try before you die.

It's a pretty impressive list. I've got 11 down:

3. Carnitas taco at La Taqueria

14. Beef brisket at Memphis Minnie's

15. Oysters on the half shell at Swan Oyster Depot

21. Pizza margherita at Pizzeria Delfina

23. Beer sausage with sauerkraut and grilled onions at Rosamunde Sausage
Grill

24. Blue Bell Bitter from the cask at Magnolia Pub, above.

29. Spaetzle at Suppenküche

35. Salted-caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery (well a taste)

40. Cheeseburger at Taylor's Automatic Refresher

48. Angels on horseback at Anchor & Hope

51. Maccaronara with ricotta salata at A16


Additionally, I've been to, but not tried the recommended dishes at:
The Slanted Door
Out the Door
Hog Island Oyster Co.
Bob's Donuts
Little Star

January 22, 2009

SF: Bar Bambino

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I first checked out Bar Bambino over the summer when I had an afternoon to hang out on my own. I visited again on my lazy Saturday and enjoyed the panini sandwich above. It was made with a house-made Italian sausage, a sweet and spicy pepper relish and provolone cheese. The sausage had an interesting flavor to it that reminded me of Chinese five spice, so cinnamon among other seasonings.

On my first visit, I had more of a chance to sit and linger over more snacks, including a meat plate and the awesome bowl of meatballs below. When I get home, I want to get my meat grinder up and running again and try out my own version of San Francisco's 'Meatball Mondays.'

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I didn't sit inside either visit, but I found the vibe there to be great for wiling away an afternoon over wine and tasty snacks. Bar Bambino is definitely a place I'll return to.


Bar Bambino
2931 16th Street, San Francisco, CA
Between Mission and South Van Ness
415.701.VINO (8466)

January 21, 2009

Toasting President Obama

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Last night I celebrated the inauguration quietly with this small bottle of Champagne I had at The Wine Spot, a slightly out of the way little hotel bar that I visited last year. More on that to come. For now, cheers!

January 20, 2009

Photo of the Day: History

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Today's the big day.

January 15, 2009

Photo of the Day: Toothpicks

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Blonde's Bar, The Mission, San Francisco. 2009.

January 9, 2009

SF: 111 Minna

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The other night, we checked out 111 Minna, an art gallery and bar a couple blocks away from the convention center. It's an awesome concept that I would love to find in New York. I always mean to go to more art galleries, particularly the openings of graffiti artists I've been following, but somehow never manage to go. Worse, a gallery has opened up in Bed-Stuy, mere blocks from my house that I have yet to walk into much less photograph.

In any case, 111 Minna is a gallery by day and a bar/club on the weekends and some nights during the week. I went on Wednesday night for a DJ night they have on Wednesdays and got a look at some of the pieces going up for an exhibition that opened last night.

See the photos of the work here.

December 28, 2008

Paris: Beer Bar Disappointment

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I was psyched when Tammi and I stumbled upon La Pinte on Paris' Left Bank. It's the Belgian Beer bar I posted a photo from a while back. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to find it again, but there it was.

But then I walked in. Giant plasma screens playing football matches were the first hint that something was amiss. The English-speaking, though welcome, was another. But really, the photo above says it all. The gorgeous taps that used to host a rotating selection of obscure beers have been retired and are now used as drying racks for pitchers. Four or five narrow chrome taps replace one of the original taps, piping through nothing more rare or tasty than Kronenberg or Heineken.

Sad, sad, sad.

October 13, 2008

Deity Art Show


IMG_1936, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

In another display of serendipity this weekend, I planned to meet up with Tammi and our friend Mandy Saturday evening having no idea that there was going to be an art show starting right when I got there.

It turned out that a group named fokus was hosting a gallery show of John Wright, whose work I don't really know and AV One, who I've seen all over town for ages. I got to meet AV One and talk briefly, which was great after all these years of shooting his stuff and seeing his art on Flickr.

I somehow always manage to miss these art openings, so I was really happy to finally have one fall in my lap. It was a good time, I hope to finally start going to more.

October 8, 2008

Antics 08: Last Exit Burlesque


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Last Exit had burlesque dancers on stage during the music performances and, unlike previous years, I'm pretty sure the dancers were all women.

September 10, 2008

Bars: Hurricane Party at Soda


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Who doesn't love bacon? No one I want to meet, that's for sure (Jon, we've already met, so it doesn't count). The bacon here is part of a chicken BLT Tammi had at Soda. I had an incredible kielbasa sandwich that I ate far too quickly to get around to photographing.

Saturday afternoon, while Hurricane Hanna swept down on New York, dumping a month's rainfall in a couple hours, Tammi and I spent the afternoon hanging out in Prospect Heights.

I had been to Soda once or twice before after years of meaning to go. Both Jon and Mike performed there regularly a couple years ago, but I never made it until recently.

While there, ostensibly looking for Parisian vacation rentals, we ended up running into Ethan and Anna. We sat there for hours hanging out and chatting completely oblivious to the general productivity we all planned out when heading there. It was great.

Meanwhile, outside,
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September 9, 2008

Photo of the Day: The Phantom DJ of the West


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Skylark Lounge. The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

September 8, 2008

SF: Zeitgeist


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I read mention of Zeitgeist several times on the interweb while I was researching for the trip, but forgot I had been here before until a couple days before I headed out. On a visit a few years back, a friend who lived out there took us there. Being slightly off the beaten path, I never managed to run into it again.

Apparently, it's quite the popular hangout spot, pulling all types of local crowds into its divey environs and its gigantic backyard under the freeway.

On my last night, Guy and I passed through and finally encountered the Tamale Lady, a local legend I read about but never encountered. All was right with the world.

I snapped this shot on my first night, while I wandered the town trying to avoid jetlag by staying up until a decent hour. I was playing with some overexposure, leaving an effect similar to how I was feeling at the time. The photo was also posted on Eater SF while I was out there.

Photo of the Day: Morose


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Elbo Room. The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

Despite the tone of the photo, the vibe at this bar on a Thursday night was lively and fun. I hung out here for a round as I was waiting to meet up with ToJ to pick Guy up from the airport. I had passed it before but never went in. I'd go back with a group of friends.

September 6, 2008

SF: Toronado


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I always want to go to Toronado when I go to San Francisco, but its location on Haight near Fillmore, is seemingly the most inconvenient place to get to from Downtown.

Ask any beer fan who has been to the Bay Area and Toronado will be mentioned in the first few breaths. It's a beer bar in a city of bars with great beer selections.

It's got about 40 taps, but numbers aren't the point. A lot of places go around these days cheering about how many taps they have but use half of them up with mass market swill. The selection here is curated. Obviously, there is a wide selection of local craft beers. More importantly, they often stock low production batches that often can't be found anywhere. On my first visit, they had a keg of Siera Nevada's bottle brew of their Pale Ale. I don't think I had ever noticed the difference between the tap and bottle versions of Sierra until then. Additionally, Toronado stocks more European beers than most West Coast bars I've seen.

After the jump, a sampling of the draft list - all I could fit in one shot.

Toronado
547 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415.863.2276

Continue reading "SF: Toronado" »

August 15, 2008

Photo of the Day: Beer Ticket


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Happy Hour at Moe's, Fort Greene, Brooklyn. 2008.

August 13, 2008

Photo of the Day: Round Two


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Spring Lounge, SoHo, NYC. 2008.

August 9, 2008

Photo of the Day: Smoking in the Rain


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Moe's, Fort Greene, Brooklyn. 2008.

The rain was coming down in torrents, lightning was flashing and thunder rumbled... yet these guys had to have a smoke.

Smokes actually. A couple of them went out 5 times to light up while I sat there. It was amazing. One of them spent most of his time between smokes rolling his next one.

August 8, 2008

dba Brooklyn coming to Williamsburg

This just in. . .

dba Brooklyn
@ N. 7the St.
(Between Berry + Wythe)
More Good Stuff

::c::

August 7, 2008

LA: Wrap Up


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I've returned from LA right into a busy busy time at work and home. When things calm down a bit, I have a few more things to post about. In the interim, here's the quick run-down of the meals I haven't had a chance to mention:

-Dinner at Ford's Filling Station in Culver City
-Dinners at Musha branches in Santa Monica and Torrance
-Lunch at Luna Park

And finally, above is an evening at Union Cattle in Hermosa Beach, not typically the sort of place I'd end up going to, but it was entertaining. And no, I didn't end up on the mechanical bull.

So, stay tuned, I'll be back in a couple days with more LA dining and SF planning.

July 26, 2008

Photo of the Day: Gloom


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Floyd NY, Brooklyn, NY.

July 21, 2008

Jakewalk

Not that I have any appreciable number of readers, but I try to stick to a few principles in keeping this blog. One of them is that I want to avoid ever trashing the places I write about. I feel like there's plenty of negativity on the internet as it is, there's no reason to add to it.

I also know enough people in the hospitality industry that I understand that off-nights happen. I've put off writing anything at all about my experience at Jakewalk, because I don't want to be one of those irritating netizens who gets their jollies writing tirades tearing down someone else's hard work.

So, I post about my visit in as much of a matter-of-fact manner as possible, hopefully keeping my editorializing to a minimum...

When my party of 4 got to Jakewalk, half the tables were empty. We ended up sitting in the back, across from end of the bar with the waitstaff station and the kitchen. Even so, it took 15 minutes for our order to be taken. After another 15 minutes, one of my friends walked the 5 feet to the bar to ask for our drinks again. During that time our waitress passed by us going to the other tables without checking in on us once or even letting us know that our drinks were coming. One of the proprietors I believe, took over and tried to sooth us, but we were already irritated.

It was another 45 minutes before our food showed up. The guy we had been dealing with spoke to us a few times apologizing for the delay and letting us know that it was nearly ready. It wasn't until we got our food that the waitress came back. Instead of being apologetic that our food took so long to show up or that she never once followed up to see how we were going, she advised us that we should try to enjoy ourselves even though it took a long time.

The most frustrating part was that none of the food actually needed to be cooked, just cut up and dropped on a plate. We had an order of Rillettes and a plate of cookies both of which require no preparation at all. The fondue was the most complicated to prepare because it had bread, apples and sausages that had to be sliced up along with the cheese that had to melt in the bowl. This should not have taken an hour.

Really though, the worst part is that the food and wine were all good, but the overall experience was awful. On principle, I would never go back to a place that treated me so poorly. So, I won't be back either way.

July 15, 2008

Rustik Tavern

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One of the best benefits of bike-riding for me has been the exposure to areas I would otherwise never see. This has inspired me to explore beyond my standard MTA-mandated locales and find places that aren't so convenient to the train travelers among us. Which is how I came across Rustik Tavern.

I had gone to the Home Depot on Nostrand to pick up a few things and planned on riding down to Fort Greene to get some food. After a few blocks of riding with half a ton of stuff on my back, I saw Rustik and decided that closer was going to be the better bet.

I like Rustik. It's very rough and I have to say the food I had the first time was not so great. The waitress later told me that no one from the kitchen showed up that day and the rest of them were improvising. This explained the shriveled, overcooked chicken that came with my waffles.

They opened up last year and are still experimenting on their format. Posters hang advertising comedy shows and jazz performances, on a recent brunch visit a band played Mediterranean music for fewer than a dozen customers.

But going there reminds me of being at Moe's in 1999/2000. The crowd there is communal and fun and the neighborhood, just on the Bed-Stuy side of the Pratt area, reminds me of Fort Greene when I just got out of school. Before the crowds overran places like Habana Outpost and Stonehome, there was no trouble finding place to chill over a beer and meet your neighbors.

I look forward to spending more time at Rustik. At some point I'll need to figure out a convenient way to get there without the benefit of my bicycle one day so I can see what it's like in the evening. I'll be sure to report in when I do.

Photo of the Day: Glow


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Barcade, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2006.

July 6, 2008

Photo of the Day: The High Life


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NoHo, NYC. 2006.

July 3, 2008

The Unfancy Food Show


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After the New Amsterdam Market, Tammi and I rode up to Delancy and over the Williamsburg Bridge. The ride kicked my ass, but it was worth it to get to the Unfancy Food Show.

The show was organized by Tom Mylan, the butcher who taught the Pig Butchery class at The Brooklyn Kitchen. In fact Gothamist used one of the shots I took of Mylan at the class for their pre-show interview.

The event itself was not nearly as big as the New Amsterdam Market , but it wasn't meant to be. There were about 20 vendors selling and displaying artisanal wares from coffee to books to knives. And of course Pork. From the folks above, I bought "Pork Sticks" tasty skewers as well as some fantastic uncured smoked bacon that I cooked up and served that evening. Just next to them, people were selling porky beans and rillettes. I didn't get a chance to try that out.

Sixpoint from Red Hook was there as well, selling their new batch of Hop Obama, a strongly hopped amber ale that received many accolades in the spring.

I could have stuck around all afternoon, drinking beer and sampling everything but I had a bag full of food to cook.

July 2, 2008

Photo of the Day: Soul Bar


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Las Cañitas, Buenos Aires, Argentina. 2006.

I can't remember if we just stumbled upon Soul Bar or if we saw it in a guidebook. Either way, we had a great time here, sitting for hours listening to American soul music and snacking while Tammi tried the various cocktails and I worked my way through the local Malbecs they stocked.

June 30, 2008

Photo of the Day: Beer Goggle


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Blondie's Bar & No Grill, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

June 29, 2008

Bars: Spuytin Duyvil


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Spuytin Duyvil sits in an unlikely storefront, away from the neighborhood's main strips. Behind the hole-in-the-wall façade lays a gourmet soul. Snacks include ever-changing offerings of meats, cheeses and pâtés. The beer selection is impressive, with representatives from Sri Lanka to Switzerland and a rather large delegation of Belgians, which are broken down into Flemish and Wallonian.

It's a small space and looks very much like it was decorated by ... me. There are maps and subway memorabilia everywhere. The furniture looks like it was all picked up from the Salvation Army shop on Bedford. It's all old and interesting and usually comfortable. I'm really a big fan of this place, but I have a few problems with it that have made it hard for me to ever end up there. It's been ages since I've been there.

My biggest issue with Spuytin Duyvil is the hours. They don't open until 4 or 5pm even on the weekends and they tend to fill up by 6 or 7pm. I end up in Williamsburg either in the afternoon or at night, so when I want to hang out there for an afternoon and try out some of the crazy obscure stuff they have, they're closed. When I stop in later, the place is packed.

To be honest, I haven't really tried to get in there since Fette Sau opened, so maybe things have cleared up a bit, but given how long the lines end up for barbecue, it may just end up collecting overflow crowds.

I tell you, success ruins everything.

359 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn
718-963-4140

June 25, 2008

Bars: Deity


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Before we headed out of town, Tammi and I ha a joint birthday party at Deity, a bar set up in an old Synagogue. We've been stopping in here semi-regularly for the last few months. The space is stealthily concealed behind an obscured entryway. I'm pretty fond of it because it's nearly always empty, which I suppose isn't particularly good for business, but makes for a great lounge as far as I'm concerned. Especially since they also stock a number of great beers and bourbons that Tammi loves.

The hours are pretty limited during the week, although they aren't about to kick folks out if there's a crowd. They stayed open an hour after the usual closing time of 9pm for our group, which pretty much filled up the space.

On the weekend, the real show is downstairs, which opens up as a club. I haven't been, since clubs aren't really my thing, but I'll have to check it out one of these days.

June 24, 2008

Photo of the Day: Candles and Coasters


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Blind Tiger Ale House, West Village, NYC. 2008. ::c::

June 23, 2008

Bars: Rudy's


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Free hot dogs and cheap beer! There's nothing else to say. It's in Hell's Kitchen. Go!

Ok, there's a little more to say. Rudy's is this kick-ass little dive that is prolly not the best place for a first date or pre-theater dinner. When I worked in Times Square, I ended up here pretty regularly. It's definitely a good escape from the tourists and crowds, especially now that Bellevue and (I think) Siberia are gone. There's a small backyard that fills up pretty quickly.

June 18, 2008

Photo of the Day: Paper Lanterns


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Superfine, DUMBO. 2007.

June 12, 2008

Photo of the Day: Hands


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For whatever reason, my latest photo fascination is 'hands' I've been shooting them more lately.... These belong to Rani.

June 11, 2008

Photo of the Day: Contemplation


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Spring Lounge, SoHo. 2008

June 10, 2008

Souvenirs: Bulldog Glass


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I got this pint glass for free as a happy hour special at The Bulldog, a great beer bar on Magazine Street in New Orleans. I stopped in there quite few times during my New Orleans trip in 2004.

On the back of the glass is a list of information for tourists visiting. Note the second one listed:

"If the levee breaks, everyone will die. No one seems worried about this problem either."


June 8, 2008

In The Club


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Last weekend Tammi joined me at the Blind Tiger as I completed my 'entry' into their Connoisseur's Club. I'm very proud. No t-shirt was available just yet, but I'm hoping my plaque will be up by my next visit.

Photo of the Day: Melting


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Mé Bar, Koreatown, NYC. 2008.

Based on the weather reports, Tammi and I got out of town just in time to miss the heat wave that was set to hit New York. It's certainly not much cooler down here in Atlanta, but the AC is blasting wherever you go, so you only ever feel it briefly.

And we're heading to San Francisco this morning where we may actually be pining for temperatures over 70 degrees.
::c::

June 5, 2008

Photo of the Day: The Phantom DJ


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DJ Jon Oliver at Madame X, NYC. 2007.

June 2, 2008

Photo of the Day: Yarn & Whiskey


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A girl's best friends.

The Red Lion, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2008.

May 29, 2008

DJ Dhundee at the Renaissance Times Square


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Last night I stopped in for a couple rounds at the bar at the Renaissance Hotel Times Square. Typically, I'd avoid lingering in Times Square, but my friend Mike, a.k.a. DJ Dhundee DJs there every Wednesday night.

As soon as I got out of the elevator into the lobby, I heard "Feel Like Makin' Love" by D'Angelo and knew I was in the right place. There weren't a ton of folks out last night, which Fiona, the organizer attributed to the long weekend. I'll be sure to stop in again to see what a regular night is like. Crowds or not, it's nice to find a place to to hear some good music and have a beer in that part of the city.

Renaissance Hotel New York
714 Seventh Ave
New York, NY 10036

May 28, 2008

The Blind Tiger Connoisseur's Club


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After 3 years, I am finally only 3 beers away from completing my membership in the Blind Tiger's Connoisseur Club. The challenge is to sample 51 different brews. Whoever accomplishes that, gets their name etched into the plaque on the wall and a T-Shirt, which is really all any good bar fly wants at their local.

I started in back in 2005, before the closing of the original Tiger, but was interrupted by the upheaval. It's a tribute to the management that they kept the box full of cards for all the old regulars who don't even get in there as much these days, since it's perpetually packed.

This weekend, I found a nice window of relative calm where I got to sit at the bar by the window and watch Bleeker street go by. I will say this about the new location, it's got more action passing by at any given moment, for good or ill. Of the many passersby, I noticed the horrendous double decker tour buses passing by every 10 minutes.

So it goes...

May 19, 2008

Hartford: Cheap Drinks


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The benefit having a Business district that completely shuts down at 5pm nearly every weeknight is great deals.

I'm sitting at this bar with the $2 drafts, the Pour House right now. The space is huge. It's a double wide storefront that goes all the way through the building.

It's just around the corner from the big convention center and stadium, so it probably packs them in on game days. Today though, I'm the only customer here.

It's awesome.

::c::

May 12, 2008

Photo of the Day: Skeptical


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Rani tends bar at Madame X when Jon DJs there. She often puts up with my incessant shooting at the bar, which I appreciate greatly.


May 10, 2008

Photo of the Day: Feeling the Music


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This is Sauniel, a friend of Jon's from high school. I met her at Madame X a few weeks back.

May 8, 2008

Radegast


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mmmm....sausage....mmmm...beer. That's pretty much the best way to sum up Radegast. It's a huge Beer Hall in Williamsburg that opened up a few months ago. I'm told it's similar to the Bohemia Beer Garden out in Astoria, but the number of times I go to Queens for leisure you can count on one hand. I've been meaning ot go forever, but never really motivated myself to go. Now I don't have to. heh.

One bit of advice, the good stuff is in the back room. I wish someone had mentioned that to me the first 3 times I went there. The kitchen menu is wildly mediocre. It all sounds pretty good, but never quite hits the spot, particularly since the whole place is filled with the smoky aroma of grilling meat in the next room.

The grill, on the other hand, offers only goodness. The list is short: Kielbasa, Bratwurst, Weisswurst and Incredibly juicy Pork Chops, along with fries and burgers that I've never bothered with because, really, they have kielbasa and pork chops.

The kielbasa, pictured here, is all that it should be. The guy at the grill keeps it on the fire for a while - longer than you think he should when you're standing there dying to bite into it. But, trust the man. He knows what he's doing. When you finally get the sausage, it has exactly the right amount of crisp char to complement its smoky sweet insides. The casing has just the right amount of resistance to make each bite satisfying.

Radegast's bratwurst is a revelation. I've always found brat's to be a little on the bland side, not nearly worth all the fuss tat people make over them. I mean, it's meat stuffed into a casing, I'l eat it and like it, but it's never appealed to me the way a smoky kielbasa or a spicy italian would. Not so at Radegast. The brat's stand up as an equal in the pantheon of juicy, flavorful sausages.

Even the sauerkraut is amazing. It's unlike any I've ever had. It's softly crunchy and tangy and nothing like the crap I've had on my hot dogs from the papaya stand.

I'd go on and on about the pork chops, but they're pork chops. You know they're good.

As for the reason I kept coming back those first few times, before I knew about the grill, that would be the beer. They have a rather large selection of German, Polish and Austrian beers, many of styles you aren't likely to find in too many places. I'm fond of the schwarzbier, a malty black lager and usually go with one of those. Last time though, I had a nice, light kolsh, which was perfect for a sunny spring afternoon.

As with all great things in New York, the word has spread and it can get stupid crowded there, but persistence pays off in the end.

May 7, 2008

San Diego: Yard House


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I didn't hear about the Yard House until my last night in San Diego. It's unfortunate, because I didn't have time to linger and sample their huge variety of draft beers they offer. With 100 taps, I'd have needed a few trips just to cover the beers I'd never heard of.

Looking at their website, I discovered that it's actually a pretty large chain with 11 locations in California alone and more in seven other states. That doesn't surprise me given it's "Flashy Generic" decor. The site boasts "Great Food, Classic Rock and The World's Largest Selection of Draft Beer."

Ambiance, it doesn't need, it's got tons of beer.

Yard House
1023 4th Ave. , San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 233-YARD |

Photo of the Day: Fill 'er Up


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Sheila kicks ass. She's studying photojournalism at ICP, but has already gotten her work published in The New Yorker and the New York Times.


The Dove, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2008.

May 4, 2008

Love Child


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Friday night, I saw Love Child a band headed up by some friends from college, Ethan and Nicole, who I hadn't seen in years.

The show was great, mixing Rock, Soul and Hip-hop influences. I totally geeked out at the setup Ethan had. He mixed beats that the band had pre-recorded using a game controller to interface with Pro Tools on his MacBook. It was pretty awesome.

Update: See photos from the show here.

May 3, 2008

Photo of the Day: Brooklyn EIPA


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Madame X, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2008.

April 29, 2008

Mexico City: Pata Negra


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We inadvertently took advantage of the great exchange rate at Pata Negra in Condesa. Even though it was listed as a tapas bar, very few of the dishes we got turned out to be particularly small.

When I ordered 4 empanadas, 2 sandwiches and a lamb skewer we saw our neighbor eating, the bartender warned us that we may want to tone it down a bit. But, given the prices, I couldn't imagine that each dish wasn't going to be gone in 3 bites. Everything was considerably bigger than that.

Having had a number of empanadas in Buenos Aires the year before, I expected a small turnover, smaller than a Jamaican Beef Patty. Instead we got what looked much more like a slice of Sicilian Pizza, a thick square covered with pastry and filled with spinach, salmon or other such things. They were huge, if not all great. We tasted a little of everything to make sure we took advantage of the variety we ended up with.

The winner of the meal has to be the sandwiches, especially the one pictured above, stuffed with juicy red chorizo slices. yummy.

In the end, I think we paid $40US, including a few sangrias that Tammi had and several local beers. All with enough food to feed 4 or 5 people.

February 24, 2008

Photo of the Day: Sunflowers


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Stonehome Wine Bar, Fort Greene, Brooklyn. 2007.
::c::

February 9, 2008

Photo of the Day: Shiny


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The Stoned Crow, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2007.
::c::

February 6, 2008

Photo of the Day: Go-Go


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Last Exit
Atlantic Antic, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn. 2007.
::c::

February 4, 2008

Photo of the Day: Bourbon


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Cheers.

Spike Hill, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2008.
::c::

February 1, 2008

Aspen: Montagna's Hot Rocks


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This was probably the most interesting dish I had in Aspen. I had it in the front room bar at Montagna, the restaurants at The Little Nell Hotel, the menu included many small plates for the "Aprés Ski" period. (For the record, "Aprés Ski" is one of the most pretentious terms ever, but is pretty much accepted as a part of the Aspen daily schedule.)

The shrimp and chorizo skewers were served with a heated river stone on a bed of banana leaves, cinnamon sticks and star anise. The shrimp was par-cooked and could be placed on the rock as long as you want in order to achieve the perfect amount of char.

Continue reading "Aspen: Montagna's Hot Rocks" »

December 27, 2007

Photo of the Day: Cork it


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The Dove, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2007.

December 19, 2007

Photo of the Day: Holiday Lights


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Spike Hill, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2007.
::c::

November 24, 2007

Mexico City Bar Snacks


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I have no idea what this is. They served it as a bar snack at El Mitote in Condesa. Tastes sort of like seaweed, but I suppose it could bugs...

Turns out it's Perejil, which is just dried parsley. Clearly I should be concerned, as I was a little disappointed when I found out it wasn't bugs.

November 15, 2007

Photo of the Day: Emphasis


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The Red Lion, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2007.

November 8, 2007

Photo of the Day: Take the Shot


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Superfine, DUMBO, Brooklyn. 2007.
::c::

November 6, 2007

The Brazen Head Packed 'Em in for Cask Ale


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Saturday night I managed to squeeze through the cask-happy crowds at The Brazen Head to try out a couple of the 'real ales' offered up this weekend.

I've written about the festival a few times before, so I'll refrain from repeating my extended introduction.

The short version is that cask conditioned beer is not as cold or bubbly as Americans typically expect. The change remarkably alters the drinking experience, often bringing out subtleties in flavor and texture of even strongly flavored beers. At least that's the way it's supposed to work. The festival, which takes place 3 times a year, brings up to two dozen casks to Brooklyn.



Cask conditioned beer in this quantity is rarely available anywhere, so every beer geek worth his hops was there. Like the last few fests, BH's small triangular space was jammed with people. I typically avoid any place with that many people in that small a place, but the festival only comes a couple times a year, so I made a point of trying again after a failed attempt on Friday. I lucked into a seat by the bar and sampled a few rounds.


Continue reading "The Brazen Head Packed 'Em in for Cask Ale" »

October 28, 2007

Nashville: 2nd Ave North

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On my last night in Nashville I got away from Music Row, the main area of Broadway and headed out to 2nd Avenue North. Whereas Music Row is full of small, gaudy Honky Tonks, some authentic, some not, 2nd Avenue North has no authenticity whatsoever. It starts with a Hard Rock Cafe and ends with Hooters. In between it's more or less the same sort of thing. Now, I usually avoid this sort of thing, but given the choice of Honky Tonk or nearly anything else, I have to seriously consider my options. The lesser of two evils actually turned out to be a fair amount of fun, despite my snobbery.

I even managed to see some live music in Music City. A co-worker and I ate at BB King's and watched Cissy Crutcher, a soul singer and her band play. The show was really entertaining. The fried chicken pretty good too. After that we avoided some of the early Halloween revelry and hung out at one of the less crowded bars on this strip.

::c::

October 25, 2007

Nasville: Rippy's


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Rippy's Smokin' Bar + Grill sprawls. The ground floor space takes up two extended store front, each with it's own bar, one with an eating space, the other with pool tables. Upstairs is third bar and a patio, which I'm sure would be a lot more pleasant on a warmer day.

The service isn't so great, think 40 minutes and still no food. But then a million people - myself included - just dropped in a block away for a conference that they hadn't expected, so they were totally slammed. It happens.

The important thing is the food.

And by that criterion, it's a total disappointment.

A list of offenses after the jump...

Continue reading "Nasville: Rippy's" »

October 24, 2007

Photo of the Day: Repent


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The Gate, Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn. 2004.
::c::

October 23, 2007

Cask Ale on The Pour

The Pour, Eric Asimov's blog on nytimes.com has a post today about cask ales. He mentions Alex Hall, formerly of the Gotham Imbiber.

Check it out.

Also, don't forget the cask ale festival at The Brazen Head next weekend..

In other

October 22, 2007

Bars: The Red Lion


IMG_7575, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I go to The Red Lion for one thing: the perfect spot on Bleeker to people watch with beer. When the weather is warm, I love to sit out on Bleeker and watch the world go by. It's my perch, where I've taken some of my most interesting shots.

I've been going there for a few years now and I haven't even had a sip of beer inside. I haven't seen any of the musical performances they have there I haven't watch any English Premier League soccer that seems to always be on.

The food is ok, but you don't really go to a place like The Red Lion for the food.

According to Wikipedia, the name Red Lion is one of the most common for pubs throughout the UK. Consequently, it's a stop for many of the
Brits, Aussies and Irishmen looking for a bit of the familiar. I've sat there many times overhearing accented ladies bragging about the bargains they got with our play money while shopping in SoHo.

As with most pubs of this sort, the selection is predictable, Boddington's, Newcastle, Bass, Guinness and so on. Thankfully, they do offer a few good beers from this side of the world. My drink here is the Blue Point Toasted Lager, a nutty, medium-bodied beer or occasionally a Brooklyn Lager.


::c::

October 17, 2007

La Esquina


IMG_5656 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

La Esquina got a lot of press a few years ago for its basement bar. The entrance is behind an unmarked door of the tiny taqueria on ground level. It was one of those 'in the know' places that generally don't interest me at all. That whole hipper-than-thou vibe is annoying and contrived. Especially when the place that no one knows about is the subject of a million blog posts and newspaper articles.

But they serve tacos. Good tacos, as Eric told me a number of times. His advice was to bypass the snooty bar and just go to the taqueria.

One day when I couldn't take midtown any longer, I headed down to check it out.
The food, after the jump.

Continue reading "La Esquina" »

October 15, 2007

The Castro Grilled Cheese Sandwich


IMG_8352, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This sandwich was the special this afternoon at Spike Hill. When the bartender told me that the sandwich was filled with tomatoes, onions and pickles, I hesitated. It seemed a little weird, but it was well worth the risk.

The tomato is always welcome in a grilled cheese as far as I'm concerned. It's a given, really. The onions are a little unusual, but caramelized, adding sweetness and moisture to the gooey cheese, it fit in perfectly. What really concerned me was the pickles. I grew up with a distaste for them and got over them in the last couple years. It turns out I couldn't have been more off-base. The tang of vinegar cut through the other flavors exceptionally well.

I just hope they don't mess with the mix like they did with the Hot Wings. The last time I ordered them, there were none of the little tasty touches that made me rave about them. They were generic and not nearly as interesting.

October 8, 2007

Bars: The Stoned Crow


IMG_6256, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Stoned Crow is a narrow, low-ceilinged dive hidden on an otherwise anonymous block just off Sixth Avenue in The Village. I've been going there for years and I still only know the street as "Not the block where Babbo is, the other one."

Personally, I think it stays cool through sheer anonymity, but not in a pretentious, 'in the know' sort of way. There's nothing smug about The Stoned Crow, it's just a laidback spot with a few well priced good beers and great burgers. The crowd here is one of the better ones in the area. It's rarely packed and it has none of the belligerent college kids of Macdougal or the overdressed grad students at The Dove or the tourists everywhere else. It's just a relaxed after-work hangout spot for people who don't wear ties work.

The place has tons of personality, between the movie and music posters that cover every inch of the walls to the old redhead who owns the place. She holds court over the pool table in the back every night.

Lately they've gotten a fair amount of attention for their burgers, after they managed to get a cook from Corner Bistro. I took Tammi there a couple weeks ago and now it's one of her favorite places for burgers. Just like CB, the bacon is key here. It's smoky and crispy and wonderful. It stands out among the juicy beef and thick layer of cheese. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.


The Stoned Crow
85 Washington Place
New York, NY

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October 2, 2007

Cask Ale Time at The Brazen Head


IMG_7036, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Just a quick note that while at the Antic, I found that the next cask ale festival at the Brazen Head will be the weekend of November 2-4th. Clearly, I'm planning on attending.

July 10, 2007

Bars: The Half Pint

IMG_6597

Tammi and I discovered The Half Pint while walking through the Village a few weeks ago. We were both a little surprised to see this huge open bar in this space after it had been boarded up for renovations for the better part of the last year. Clearly Harry's Burritos wasn't coming back - no big loss.

I stopped in to check it out a couple times since then. It's a great space and pretty laid back in the after-work hour. Not sure what it's like on the weekend, when the crazy crowds of Bleeker and Macdougal are flooding the area.

Like The Red Lion, the staff seems to be recruited from the UK and Ireland. One waitress I met had only been in the country for 5 days. They're still working out some of the bugs, when I was there last, the cask pump wasn't working yet and some of the beer wasn't in stock.

And then there's the beer. With a name like Half Pint, you expect a strong focus on beer.
The thing about Half Pint's selection is that they have a bunch of good beer that I can get in a bunch of other places.

They have 23 taps and dozens of bottles of really good stuff, but a lot of them - coopers, blue point, brooklyn, fullers's, sam smith's, and so on. Not excessively British, they've got a wide selection, but nothing particularly obscure.

I think they do plan on rotating their menu, so this might change, but it's odd to go to a beer bar without a few beers that you haven't heard of before or at least don't see around much. The one beer they had that I hadn't heard of was Blue Tongue. I'm not sure it's history, but it was a so-so light bodied beer that certainly wasn't a great find.

Ultimately, it's going to be the vibe here that will make or break this place. So far I do enjoy the large space, covered in dark wood and filled with light coming in from the gigantic windows that line the walls. The servers are friendly and the menu seems good. I'll be following up regularly to see how it develops.
::c::

July 5, 2007

No go at Dixie's


IMG_6012, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Last Thursday, we were supposed to meet up at Dixie's for their opening party. When I got there I found this line of people going all thr way to the corner. We bailed and went downtown instead.

What's funny is that we only ever saw anything written up on this place on Thrillist, which I hadn't even heard of before. I didn't see or hear about it anywhere else. Maybe everyone came to see the pony...
::c::

June 28, 2007

Photo of the Day: Through the Drinking Glass


IMG_4805, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

June 18, 2007

Bars: Rub-A-Dub

IMG_3699

We only swung by Rub-a-dub in Ponto Cho, Kyoto to see what a Reggae bar in Japan could possibly be like. It turned out to be a lot of fun. It's a very small place that could probably only fit 20 people. Maybe.

We were there late on our last night. The only ones there were the bartenders, a girl who was friend with them and an old Japanese man who had been sitting next to us at the bar, wearing a cowboy hat.

I yelled out a request for some Bob Marley and they invited me over to pick something out. As we listened to "War/No More Trouble" from of Babylon By Bus, the old man got starting moving to the music. Before the song was over, he was dancing in the middle of the bar.

Kyoto: Ponto Cho

IMG_3294

Our hotel in Kyoto was just a block or two from Ponto Cho, an collection of interconnected alleys anchored by a pair of main strips, the main stretch, lit up at night with signs and the narrow parallel alley closer to the river sat in its shadow. The area is full of bars, restaurant and clubs stacked in anonymous buildings and packed into narrow pathways. We wandered through here blindly searching for food and drink, sometimes successful sometimes not. Occasionally, we found ourselves stalking geisha walking out of one of the private clubs on their way back to Gion, just across the river.

Continue reading "Kyoto: Ponto Cho" »

June 15, 2007

Bars in Japan

A few things I've learned in the last week about the bars in Japan:

1. Most don't open until 6 or 7. Even the hotel bars and the Irish pubs aren't open until 4-5pm. This makes it difficult when all you want it a beer after schlepping around town lost for a couple hours.

2. There just aren't that many bars, in the sense that I'm used to. Most are at least partially restaurants. Apparently a lot of the drinking here is done in restaurants. It's cool, but can make it a bit more difficult picking a place out.

3. They are often hidden in otherwise anonymous office buildings, making them a lot more difficult to find.

June 11, 2007

Bars: Brick, Ginza


, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Brick is a cool little 'American' bar in Ginza, Tokyo. The first time we passed by, it caught my attention with the softly playing jazz wafting out of its dark doorway.

The vibe inside is relaxed and the decor old school. Bartenders dress in vests and bow ties and dim lights reflect off the polished dark wood and the bottles of liquor on the wall.

You can't get sake here, or Tammi's new favorite, Shochu. She had to stick with her usual bourbon. The beer selection is half local, half imports. I've been sticking to the locals for most part, particularly Suntory Premium Malts, one of the best Japanese beers I've had.

Brick also has the distinction of being one of the few places in the neighborhood that stays open late on the weekend, when the after-work crowd isn't around and the shoppers have gone home.

May 25, 2007

Bars: Dove Parlor


IMG_4378, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I sort of inherited The Dove. Frank, the owner of Black Star, along with Jen and Henrietta, two of my favorite bartenders there, opened this place up after Black Star closed. I think I may be the only former Black Star patron who goes with any regularity though. Dove is anything but a recreation of Black Star.

As the name suggests, Dove is a parlor more than a bar. It goes old fashioned with its antique looking decor and the doilies sitting under every glass. They recently started serving tea sandwiches and cheese plates.

Dove is also one of the more 'grown-up' bars near Washington Square Park, catering to the (slightly) more mature professional school crowd. These are the folks who have gotten past the frat party conditions of Macdougal, but still cram into a room a little more than they should. So watch out when stopping by on a Friday night. You might get flashbacks from your rush hour commute.

The drink menu focuses more on mixed drinks and wine much more than most other places in the area that I know. Tammi discovered the Sea Breeze here as she began migrating away from fru-fru cocktails. The wine selection is small, but has some good stuff. The beer selection is not extensive, it doesn't stock anything rare or obscure, but it has a very good basic set. When I'm there, I fall back on an old favorite, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

Dove Parlor
228 Thompson St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 254-1435

May 18, 2007

Bars: Barcade


IMG_4830, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I can't think of much better to say about Barcade than what I wrote in my Brooklyn Record piece:

"Barcade has everything adulthood should have: great beer and video games. Knock back one of the two dozen beers on tap while playing Frogger or Zaxxon or Moon Patrol or any of the other '80s video games. A pool table is in the back for those seeking a more traditional bar game. Gothamist recently ran an interview with Paul Kermizian, filmmaker and owner of Barcade."

Going to Barcade for the first time was a revelation. All the games of my childhood were there and still only cost a quarter per game. Add to the that some of the best craft brews around and it's a wonder I ever leave.

Barcade
388 Union Ave. Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
L to Metropolitan, G to Lorimer St.

May 17, 2007

Spike Hill's Hot Wings


IMG_8653.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I spent the afternoon at Spike hill on my day off the other day.

One of their daily specials was Hot Wings, which I can rarely pass up. These burnt the hell out of my mouth, but were so good. Instead of the standard 'Frank's' style hot sauce, they used a Vietnamese chili sauce, speckled with red pepper flakes. It was sweet and hot and left my mouth nearly numb. I'm hoping that they have these there again.

(Update: Over a year later, I still haven't seen these offered again. I think I'll have to try making this myself next time I make hot wings.)

May 16, 2007

Photo of the Day: 20 Year old Port


20 Year old Port, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I first tasted port in Lisbon. After dragging my jet-lagged sister around town all day, I had one last stop. We stopped at the Solar do Vinho do Porto - Lisbon, a branch of the government organization dedicated to the promotion of port wine. The main room looked more like a living room than a bar. Apparently the word "solar" in traditional English is the "upper chamber of a medieval house," presumably similar to a parlor or sitting room. At least that's what my computer's dictionary says.

I hadn't had port before. At the time I didn't know much about wine in general. I wanted to try it because it was so specifically Portuguese. I've been a fan ever since. While in Lisbon, I picked up a bottle each of red port and white port. White port is great, but you can't find it here in the states. When done right, it has a nutty caramel flavor that's incredible. The closest thing I've gotten to a good white port is a Marsala I got from Italian Wine Merchants last year.

Outside of that, I'm 'stuck' going after 10 and 20 year old red port as I find it. I've been considering buying a 1977 for myself for my 30th birthday this year, but I haven't actually done it yet...

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May 15, 2007

Bars: Spike Hill

Spike Hill

I'm a big fan of Spike Hill. It's got a great versatility to it. Regardless of your mood, Spike Hill is almost always the right place. A couple weeks ago, I ended up going there two days in a row. Once in the evening when I went out drinking with Eric, then the next day with Tammi after brunch, we spent a couple hours lounging in the back.

In case you missed it, here's what I wrote for the williamsburg beer tour in the brooklyn record:

Spike Hill is not your typical beer bar. There are 12 taps and nearly 50 bottles, serving up beer of all styles and nationalities — yet it has none of the geekery you might expect. There's no need to impress anyone with your vast beer knowledge here. You can sit in the front window and watch Bedford Avenue pass by, chat with fellow patrons at the long dark wood bar, and/or pack into the deep booths in the back with friends or a laptop. The menu takes unassuming dishes like grilled cheese and makes them interesting as well as comforting by changing up the breads and cheeses.

Spike Hill is probably one of my favorite bars around. I'm finding myself there more and more lately.
::c::

Spike Hill
184 Bedford Avenue at North 7th Street
718.218.9737

May 14, 2007

The World According to Clay

the world according to.jpg

Google now offers personalized maps without the geekery previously necessary to put one together. I've wanted to do one since Eric put together a Paris map for his trip there last year.

I've started populating the map with bars I've been to in my travels. At some point, I'll figure out how I want to connect it to the site, in the meantime, click on the screenshot above and take a look.
::c::

Chicago Notes


IMG_2357, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Kevin, a former co-worker, is heading out to Chicago soon and asked for some recommendations. Follow the Jump for the extended version of my picks.

Continue reading "Chicago Notes" »

May 13, 2007

A Full Day

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Wow, yesterday was great.

When I got out to Habana Outpost, they were still setting up, so I wandered over to The Brazen Head. Lo and behold, they were having another Cask Ale Festival! I had a few rounds there before it started to fill up.

When I got back to Fort Greene, Habana Outpost was packed. Their opening party spilled out on the street, filling the whole block of South Portland. Local artisans and vendors sold their wares, clowns and stilt-walkers wandered about, there was even a fire-eater. Tammi, Laura and Guy met up and we split a couple sandwiches and some corn while we watched bands perform on the stage set up in the middle of the outdoor space. After the crowd overtook us, we went to Stonehome and had a bottle of sparkling rosé.

Then, Tammi and I headed to Boerum Hill for a barbecue. Dale, who I haven't seen in close to 2 years was in town. It was great to see him.

After all that, a bunch of us headed out to Wonder-Full, the Stevie Wonder tribute party out in Williamsburg. I still don;t know enough Stevie Wonder music, so a litle of it was lost on me. I still enjoyed it. I took off a little early though.

I was wiped out.

May 11, 2007

Bars: Moe's

I don't go to Moe's anymore. It's not that it's changed at all - at least not that I know of. In part it's just that I lost my patience for crowded bars a couple years ago. And Moe's can get pretty crowded.

On the weekends they have DJs spinning some great tunes. Jon DJed there from time to time. I don't remember how many times I've sat there just getting amped over the music. Even the jukebox is great. It's got old school hip-hop, soul and funk with an eclectic mix of everything else swirled in.

Unfortunately, the vibe at Moe's changes on the weekends too. It almost becomes more of a club than a bar and it has all the hazards that includes: Way too many over-dressed people crammed into a tight place. Maybe I've just gotten old, but that doesn't appeal to me so much these days.

During the week it's more of a neighborhood bar. Relaxed regulars hang out with the bartender or lounge on the couches in the back. Writing about it, I'm starting to miss it. I'll have to swing by for a round soon. Maybe this weekend before it gets too crowded.

Moe's is definitely a cool place to relax, but you have to hit it at the right time.
::c::

80 Lafayette Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 797-9536

May 10, 2007

Photo of the Day: Hilarious


IMG_5437, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

May 5, 2007

Photo of the Day: Behind the bar


IMG_2194, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Last Exit, Atlantic avenue, Brooklyn.

May 2, 2007

Bars: The Ginger Man

I can't stand The Ginger Man. It's always packed with the worst sorts corporate tools. The service is awful, largely because even the waitresses can't get from one end of the room to another without bumping into 100 people. But I keep going back there.

Here's the thing, It's not a bad place. The space is beautiful, it's got 20 foot ceilings, huge windows which light up the place and a beautiful dark wood bar that goes on for days. There are comfortable couches and lazy boys in the backroom lounge. The little food I've had there has been pretty good. I'm fond of the giant pretzel served warm with a honey mustard dip.

Most importantly, it's got a ridiculous beer selection. It's got 66 draughts, 2 hand drawn casks and 130 bottled beers.

That's why I keep going back. That and the fact that I work 2 blocks away. It's location is also key to the crowd it attracts: It's stationed right between Penn Station and Grand Central, which makes it perfect staggering distance for all the suburbanites who need to catch their trains home.

The crowd is absolutely awful.

One day, I hope to figure out when the perfect time is to go to Ginger Man when it's empty and I can enjoy the selection and a snack while actually being able to hear my companions. One day...

The Ginger Man
11 East 36th Street
btwn Fifth Ave. and Madison Ave.
New York City
212.532.3740

April 29, 2007

A Lazy Sunday Afternoon

A Lazy Sunday Afternoon, the first in a series

After wandering through Williamsburg for a bit, we (I) decided to sit and chill at Spike Hill even though I was here last night with Eric. Tammi's drinking wine and reading the paper, I'm clacking away at the laptop and drinking beer.

I had a rather large bottle of the Hitachino Red Rice accidentally. It's not any sort of red you'd expect to have. There's a sweetness to it that reminds me most of the robutussin I took when I was a kid. That's not to say it's bad, just that the flavor takes some getting used to.

Next up is Moorehouse's Black Cat, "A refreshing black ale brewed with the finest English malt and hops." The color is black right through. You can barely see through it. The malts are much more prominent than the hops, with a flavor like a Newcastle, but stronger.

What could improve an afternoon like this? Oysters. Apparently Spike Hill has a raw bar now. Word. Or not. The Oysters were remarkably bland. Even a bunch of toppings couldn't help these oysters out. sad sad...

Bars: dba

dba, NYC

I'm writing this at the bar at dba. I don't get over here so much these days. Maybe that'll change as the weather warms up. They've got a nice garden in the back that draws as many people in the summer as their phenomenal beer selection. Inside and out, dba is a good place to hang out and linger. They have wifi and it's really easy to pass a lazy afternoon poking at the laptop of a couple beers. Or sitting at the bar listening in on the conversations. It's a bar with regulars and a sense of familiarity.

Like the original Blind Tiger, dba was a beer bar before there was a huge market for beer bars. It doesn't make a thing about it, it just is. They've got 16 taps and 5 tall chalkboards listing the many bottle selections on hand. And there are 3 cask engines for the hand drawn aficionados. The board with the tap listing also notes the date on which the keg was tapped. That's a pretty nice touch. I should have paid attention to that when I ordered the Kelso Chocolate Lager. It was tapped almost a month ago, which might account for the off taste. It was definitely not the chocolate lager I had had before.

They've got a sister bar out in New Orleans on Frenchman Street that I've been to a couple times.
See earlier posts here and here.

d.b.a.
41 First Ave.
Between 2nd and 3rd Street
New York, NY 10003
212.475.5097

::c::

April 28, 2007

Bars: Black Star Bar

FKA Black Star

I miss Black Star.

For me and Eric, along with a bunch of our friends, it was 'our' bar back when. Our 'local' - except neither of us actually lived over there.

It's gone now. They closed up in January '04 after the landlord outpriced them. The people who took over turned into a crappy place called Kabin that has giant plasma screens and no soul. I walked in once and it all just seemed wrong.

Kim g put me on to that place for her birthday. Maybe in 2001?

On Friday nights, Garfield the DJ played some great music. I must have run up to his booth dozens of times to ask for the names of songs he was playing. Every now and then I'll come across a page in a notebook with a drunken scrawl, "take me to the mardi gras - bob james" or some other such classic sample that I first heard at Black Star.

They packed them in on Saturday nights. Even with the lounge in the back room open, it was jammed. But we knew the staff, so we could always get a good spot.

On weeknights, after work it wasn't nearly so busy. Usually there were no more than a dozen of us there sitting at the bar hanging out with the bartenders and bullshitting. Thinking back to that, I understand the appeal of social clubs and lodges for old men.

To this day, I've never found a bar I felt as at home in. Blind Tiger got pretty close, until they closed. I'm holding out hope for the new place, but so far it's just too crowded. Black Star is pretty much the standard to which I judge nearly every other bar.


::c::

The Bar List

Behind the Bar

There are hundreds if not thousands of bars in New York. Now, I do go to a lot of bars, but I've barely scratched the surface. I have, however, gone to enough that I sometimes lose track of spots that I enjoyed.

Every now and again, people ask for bar recommendations or I have to come up with a place for, say, my 30th birthday party - which I still haven't done. It would be incredibly useful to have a receptacle for my impressions of the bars I've been to.

Following mikeoliver.org's mission statement of 'holding on to things Mike Oliver will forget...' I've decided to use the blog for just such a thing.

So, begins a new feature. Keep an eye out for upcoming posts on bars and boozing.
Expect a few quotes from my brooklyn record posts too. These won't all be reviews as much as (semi-)organized notes.

I'll break down the categories for your searching enjoyment. For all bars click here.

Let me know what I missed in the comments.


::c::

April 24, 2007

Photo of the Day: Feeling the Music


IMG_2528, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

dba, Frenchman Street, New Orleans. 2005.

April 20, 2007

Photo of the Day: Cashing Out


Cashing Out, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Madame X, NYC.
::c::


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April 19, 2007

Hartford: Bin 228

Bin 228 is an Italian inspired wine bar in Hartford. Last week I had dinner with Eli, a friend from college. I liked it enough to go back last night, when I returned to CT. I had heard about it a while back, but didn't know how extensive the food selection was, so I never bothered to go. I'm glad I finally made it.

The menu is made up of small plate antipasti and panini with a few larger dishes. Last week we had some panini and charcuterie along with some bruschetta. The flavors were all familiar. Prosciutto with fresh mozzarella and basil, spicy meats with hot peppers and cheese and so on. They even had a bruschetta made with parmesan, asparagus and truffle oil, reminiscent of the truffled egg toast at 'ino and 'inoteca back home. It wasn't nearly the transcendental experience, but then few things are.

That's sort of how I felt about the whole menu. It was all very good, but then it's not hard to put meat and/or cheese on bread. This week I went for something more complicated. One of the specials was Wild Boar on parpardelle. I had just been ogling some game meats online, so I couldn't turn it down. The server described it as almost like a beef stroganoff in composition. The meat was braised and served in shreds and chunks on the pasta. The sauce tasted of sweet gaminess. In the end, it was much heavier than what I had planned on eating, but it was well worth it.

Last week we drank a Tuscan Merlot we were recommended by the waiter. I ordered some more of that to start off. I don't know much about Merlot and I've never seen Sideways, so I have no preconceptions about it as a wine. I've never really gotten a hang of Italian wines. I've had good ones, but I can never really track which ones they are. I just need to pay more attention. I usually just ask for a rec. One day I'll just have to go to Italy myself and learn first hand. In any case, the wine was everything I wanted. It was a little more tannic than most wine I have, but it balanced out very well.

I think this place is going to have to move up on my list of places to grab lunch while waiting for the train from now on. The portions are very well suited to a snack as well as dinner.

Bin 228
228 Pearl Street
Hartford, Connecticut

April 9, 2007

Photo of the Day: dba New Orleans


IMG_7928, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

dba, Frenchman Street, New Orleans, 2004.

I've been going to dba in New York for years. When I found out they had a sister bar in New Orleans, I had to check it out the next time I went there.

The space is much bigger than the New York location, taking up two storefronts. The photo above is of on half of the space. To the right, there's a door to the other room which has a stage up for performances and the other side of the double bar.

The beer selection is exactly what I'd expect from dba: very extensive, and inclusive of many local beers. They get creative with the beer too. This is where I had my first "Dirty Ho," a beer cocktail mixing about 75% Hoegarden with a Framboise lambic. It's a pretty fantastic concoction, adding the fruit flavor of the lambic livens up the hoegarden, which in turn cuts the excess sweetness of the lambic.

The Frenchman Street strip of bars and restaurants sits just a few blocks outside the French Quarter, but is thankfully worlds away from the contrived excess of Bourbon Street. On my first trip to New Orleans, a friend who lived out there at the time took us to a couple of bars on Frenchman. It took me a couple trips before I could figure out how to get back there. It's a much more local scene so it totally bypasses the bead-throwing and nonsense found down the road. The strip runs about two or three blocks and it's full of music. Nearly every bar had some performance listed.

The last time I was at dba New Orleans, was two years ago. Tammi and I caught the Tony Dagradi Organ Trio performing with one of the Marsalis brothers on drums.

d.b.a.
618 Frenchman Street,
New Orleans, LA. 70116
504.942.3731

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[Updated 4.29.07. Added more info for The Bar List]

April 3, 2007

R&R


IMG_5506, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.


After spending the last 4 days unpacking and dealing with plumbers, electricians and cable guys, I'm taking s little downtime.

I'm spending the afternoon in Williamsburg. Not walking around, not looking for graffiti, just sitting on my ass and drinking beer. I'm hoping to eat some barbecue at Fette Sau, which just opened, whenever I finally get up. I tried to check it out a couple days ago, but it was packed.

Right now, I'm at Spike Hill, one of my favorite bars in Brooklyn. I find that weekday afternoons are the best times to go. The crowd is sparse and the vibe is relaxed.

The photo above is a reshoot. A year ago, I also had a day off and ended up at Spike Hill. I shot a similar photo of people sitting in the window. It was around when I first started seriously shooting. Expect a few more reshoots in the next few months.
::c::

April 2, 2007

Photo of the Day: Sucre


IMG_7504, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.




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March 30, 2007

Photo of the Day: Paris Beer Bar


Paris, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.


Bar la Pinte 13 Carrefour de l'Odeon, 6th arrondissement Left Bank, Paris

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March 28, 2007

Bars: Mé Bar

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Spring is here. Yesterday New York had the warmest day of the year so far. It got up to 78, which beats the hell out of the frigid temperatures we had for most of the second half of winter.

After work Eric and I met up at Me Bar on the roof of the La Quinta in Koreatown. The bar is small and remarkably unglamorous, considering how fancied up so many roof bars can be. I got there just around 6pm, which is apparently the perfect time. When I got there, only two or three of the outdoor tables were taken, by the time Eric got there around 6:45, it was standing room only.

The beer selection was unexpected. It had some of the usual generic beer, but it also had some relatively obscure mid-shelf beers as well. I drank Red Hook ESB and Anchor Porter, Eric had Kirin. They also stocked Sol, a Mexican beer that you don't find in too many places.

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March 26, 2007

Photo of the Day: Candlelight reflected


IMG_1734, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.




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March 22, 2007

SF: Cafe Niebaum-Coppola


IMG_0650, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Peter, the bartender in the rose colored glasses has been there nearly every time I've stopped in over the last 5 years. He's pictured above, barely, as the blur between the waiter and his reflection.


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March 20, 2007

Travelogue

I'm moving on Saturday. Today is Tuesday. Many things have yet to be packed.
In order to avoid an obvious form of procrastination, I'm going to take the opportunity to post some brief or pre-written pieces over the next week or so. I may post about the move here and there, but really, I need to focus on the actual move more and writing about it less. In the meantime, enjoy some of what I've had to say about San Francisco, Chicago, Hawai'i, and Montreal among other places.

::c::

March 16, 2007

(Re-)Opening Night at Blind Tiger

Blind tiger Re-opening



Last night Eric and I headed down to the new Blind Tiger right after work. They opened up at 4pm, by 5:30, when I got there, it was jammed with people. I could barely get in the door. The place was full of familiar faces. It was a celebration.

The new space seemed nice, but I could barely see anything past the crowd. I'll have to go back again soon to get a better look.
::c::

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March 7, 2007

A new day for The Blind Tiger


IMG_5170, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Just the other day I was mourning the passing of Blind Tiger Ale House, but now I hear that I may have been premature.

Eric, the blurry subject of the photo in my previous Blind tiger post, sent me this via IM. Apparently the State Liquor Authority finally issued a license for BT.

No word yet on the new opening day. I'm sure I'll be there! ::c::

Continue reading "A new day for The Blind Tiger" »

March 5, 2007

Bon Chon Chicken

All this talk of wings inspired me to finally check out some of the Korean fried chicken that I've been hearing about recently. I first read about it when The New York Times wrote about it. After writing the last post, I had a craving for more chicken wings, so I IM'ed Eric, who was down, obviously.

It's just around the corner from the main strip of Koreatown, 32nd Street between 5th and Broadway. I knew it was on the second floor, so I was expecting a non-descript side door to get in. It was definitely non-descript - and totally sketchy. There was a hand-written sign next to the elevator that said, "Elevator was broken, use stairs. Bon Chon Chicken." I walked down the hall to the dark stairway with a broken first step and wondered exactly where the hell I was going. The second floor landing was unlit, all that was there was a single, unmarked door. I had no idea if this was the right place and sort of wondered what sort of hole it was going to be.

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Food: Hot Wings

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I mentioned in passing recently that I've been on a serious Buffalo Wings kick lately. It's still there. I've probably had hot wings from maybe 10 different places in the last month, not counting the set I made myself last weekend for a friend's party.

Last night I found a topic on Chowhound on the Top 5 Chicken Wings
. Here was what I came up with:

Atomic Wings
at
Down the Hatch
were some of the first Buffalo Wings I had as a kid. In high school we'd have to order them to go because we weren't allowed to stay in the bar. They're a little scrawny, but still tasty. And with 6 levels of spice, you'll get them just as hot as you want.

I used to love the plump, saucy wings at Uno's, but they changed the recipe a couple years ago and it's just not the same.

A week or so ago I had some good wings in Brooklyn at Solomon's Porch in Bed-Stuy. I posted about it a week or so ago. Per my earlier post,

"They were crisply fried and topped with a spicy, vinegary hot sauce. It left my mouth tingly and happy. My only complaint was that it only included 6 wings instead of the customary 10."

I love the Honey Hot wings at Croxley's on Ave B. The sweetness of the honey adds a great balance to the spice. I love it. And now I want some...

::c::

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March 4, 2007

Heavy Rotation: I Don't Know...

Photos

A week or so I was hanging out with Jon Oliver, while he DJed at Madame X. Jon's been putting me on to great music for over a decade now. Whenever I'm completely tired of everything I'm listening to, I can count on him to hook me up with something I've never heard before.

Except this time. This time he hooked me with something I thought I already knew. A couple years ago he posted about the song "I don't know why I love you" by the Jackson 5. Listening to young Michael Jackson sing his heart out was amazing. I had heard a few old Jackson 5 songs and I had the Christmas album when I was young, but I grew up knowing Michael Jackson from Thriller, not ABC. 'My' Michael Jackson has a jheri curl and fancy footwork, not and afro and his 4 brothers. I listened to it over and over again.

So when a song Jon was playing started out with a pleading "I don't know why I love you..." but with an unfamiliar beat I presumed it was a remix of some sort. I was feeling it, but something seemed off. By the second verse is became clear that that wasn't young MJ. It was N'dea Davenport and the Brand New Heavies. By the time it was over I knew I needed that song. Jon got me a copy the next day, two days later I'd heard it a dozen times.

This week on his website, Jon wrote about the original version performed by Stevie Wonder, who wrote the song. I am woefully ignorant of stevie wonder's work, older or more recent. His version is much more subtle than either of the others.

Where i imagine Michael running around tearing out his afro begging and pleading, I picture Stevie sitting in a cafe trying to have a civil conversation. He gets more animated over the course of the song. By the time he loses it and raises his voice the song is nearly over.

N'dea uses the Michael Jackson rendition as a starting point and goes on from there. What she lacks in MJ's youthful energy, she compensates for with a wail from the depths

All three are now entrenched in my heavy rotation playlist and will be for a while, given the individual talents of each singer. And clearly I need to know more Stevie.

::c::

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March 3, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Mundo Bizarro


IMG_0895, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Mundo Bizarro, by Pum Pum.
Men's Room, Mundo Bizarro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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February 26, 2007

Hartford

Hartford: New England's Poorest City

I'm heading up to CT this evening to spend the week up at my company's headquarters. I'll be in the land of suburban office parks for the next couple days, which is tons of fun, I assure you.

In anticipation of evenings at Chili's and Outback Steakhouse, I like to get one last taste of civilization in Hartford.

Now Hartford is no Chicago or Philadelphia. It's in the third or fourth tier as these things go. But it is a city, which means I can actually walk from point A to point B and there are a couple restaurants that are a cut above the casual dining spots prevalent in the area.

Details after the jump...

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February 25, 2007

Solomon's Porch

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We went to Solomon's Porch for a snack while we were waiting to see the apartment in the previous post. It's a whole block from the house where I lived for 10 years. I don't remember what used to be there, but it's now it's a cafe called Solomon's Porch. We had an hour to kill and hadn't eaten at all that day.

The space is small but fits a lot in. The tables seat 40 customers and another few fit on the couch. At the far wall is a performance space. That night a Haitian folk singer named Emeline Michel was performing.

Our meal was minimal, so I don't have an extensive example of the food. I had buffalo wings, which have been my trademark meal in the last week or so. They were crisply fried and topped with a spicy, vinegary hot sauce. It left my mouth tingly and happy. My only complaint was that it only included 6 wings instead of the customary 10.

The beer selection was not so exciting, but it featured Duvel, a trappist ale along the lines of chimay.

The vibe was very casual, people hung out over cappuccinos and tapped away at their laptops and chatted with friends and spouses.

Tammi's not sold on the apartment, but already has plans to go back to Solomon's Porch. I enjoyed it and welcome the idea of having a place around the corner to relax on any given weekend.

Solomon's Porch
307 Stuyvesant Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11233
(718) 919-8001

::c::

Continue reading "Solomon's Porch" »

Photo of the Day: Blind Tiger Ale House


motion, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Blind Tiger Ale House was a great bar on Hudson in the West Village. This shot was taken on its closing night a couple years back. I've been thinking of my old haunts recently. The Blind Tiger almost took the spot of my former home away from home, Black Star before it closed too.

The story of BT's closing is annoyingly familiar. The landlords got greedy asking for rent, started renovating the place to appeal to some of the boutiques a block away on Bleeker, then gave The Tiger the boot. Over a year went by, no boutiques took the bait and now it's going to be a starbucks. What a waste.

Meanwhile, Blind Tiger can't get a liquor license at its new location on a pretty lame stretch on Bleeker near 7th Ave. I haven't even made it over there yet.

::c::

Continue reading "Photo of the Day: Blind Tiger Ale House" »

February 19, 2007

Philadelphia: Society Hill Hotel Bar

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Perhaps it's my inherently anti-social nature, but there's something I really appreciate about an empty bar. I mean, there's booze, but not people to get in the way. I love it. So the bar downstairs at the Society Hill Hotel in Old City appeals to me greatly. Don't get the wrong idea, I had no idea there was a hotel here until someone walked in with luggage and asked the waitress about her room. The hotel has a different entrance and there are no horny businessmen trying to hook up with conventioneers. It's a cool old looking saloon with huge windows that light up the place in the afternoon and display the Old City nightlife after hours.

We're here waiting for our dinner reservation and hanging out while Tammi knits and I scribble nonsense on the laptop. They're playing Kind of Blue and all is right with the world.

::c::

[Technorati Tags: Bars, Booze, Beer, Philadelphia, OldCity, UltraClay, saloons, SocietyHill.]

February 18, 2007

Philadelphia: Standard Tap

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We made it out to Northern Liberties in early afternoon and got brunch at Standard Tap. In fact we're still here, Tammi's knitting, I'm writing and drinking beer. Really I like the vibe here, the food was a bit of a miss this time.

Both things I ate were a bit over-fried. The fried oysters had too much breading and the chicken in the fried chicken sandwich was a little dry. The rest of the sandwich was like a really good BLT, so I may actually order one of those after first lunch settles.

Standard Tap is in this big old building with many rooms over 3 floors. The sun pours in from the windows and lights up the place. Wood dominates the space as soon as you walk in, from the bar up front to the wainscotting and wooden benches running along the walls in the back room on the ground floor.

We got in a little after 1pm and it was busy. We found a seat in the back and settled in. The only menus at Standard Tap are posted on the walls. As we were looking, three items were being wiped off the board.

(continued after the jump)

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February 17, 2007

Philadelphia: Good Dog

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I was wandering around the center city/Rittenhouse Square area looking for a place to have a few rounds while Tammi hung out in the room watching tv.

I was heading for Monk's Cafe, a Belgian bar that's supposed to have a huge selection of obscure imports. When I got there it was prohibitively crowded, so I took off. I stumbled across Good Dog on 15th.

It wasn't empty, but I found a spot at the bar, which is all I needed. The music on was totally random, much of it hitting my obscure hip-hop niche. They played some old Grand Puba, A Tribe Called Quest and "can I get wit'cha" an early BIG appearance from back in the day.

The beer selection had some good stuff from dogfishhead, Troeg, Victory, and Stoudt's representing the local breweries.

I tried to avoid getting food, since I was going to dinner in a bit, but the sizzling mac n cheese looked amazing when served to the folks next to me. I had a snack of truffled cheese steak empanadas. The filling was not as cheesy as I'd have preferred, but I have yet to taste an empanada I didn't like.

Good Dog Bar
224 South 15th Street
Center City, Philadelphia
215.985.9600

::c::

Continue reading "Philadelphia: Good Dog" »

February 16, 2007

Photo of the Day: A Tip


A Tip, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

February 14, 2007

A Couple Rounds at Spuyten Duyvil

Last night I had a few rounds at Spuyten Duyvil in Williamsburg with some folks. It was great as usual. They've got such a great list of crazy obscure beer that you'll never find anywhere else. I always end up drinking well there. These two in particular stick out:

The Old Prize Ale on hand-drawn was really interesting. If that's not a resounding endorsement, it's because I still don't know if I liked it. The beer was remarkable in texture and flavor. It had this crazy sweetness to it that wasn't altogether pleasant. It had none of the bubbles one would expect from either a fizzy or a creamy beer, there was little or no effervescence at all. The color was dark molasses brown and the texture was thick, but not syrupy. It reminded me more of jagermeister than any beer I've ever had.

The other that stood out was the Kulmbacher Eisbock. One of my drinking companions ordered it and offered a taste. It had an powerful maltiness that immediately reminded me of Milo, a powdered chocolate mix from the West Indies that I grew up drinking. I ordered one for myself right away. Once you get past that intense malt flavor, there's a very richness to match.

Continue reading "A Couple Rounds at Spuyten Duyvil" »

February 8, 2007

Toronto: The Sunday Lime


iflute?, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Summer 2005: Tammi and I took a long weekend out to Toronto. The timing was perfect. The weather was gorgeous and there just happened to be a graffiti festival on Queen Street. We wandered about and I shot some of the fresh art up on the walls.
Sunday afternoon, we headed back to Queen to catch the last of the festival. We could hear music from a block away. It was coming from a bar called Big Papa's Bordello. In the fenced off garden space, we could see musicians playing as the DJ spun beats.

This was the bar's Sunday ritual, the Sunday Lime. Musicians from a group called The iDrum Collective played percussion over what Tammi called 'soulful house.' I don't know from House music, but this wasn't like any I'd heard before. It was a mix of funk and soul and the songs just flowed into each other. What drew me in the most was the musicians. There wasn't much structure to the group, The flowed in and out just like the music. They came and walked off periodically. They switched instruments from time to time, one guy drummed for a while, then took out a trumpet and played that.

A little before we left, an older man came in and hung out for a few minutes. He chat with the others for a bit, then he took out his flute. He hooked up his mic and caught the beat. As he played, he meandered through the garden passing us by, bending and moving with his lilting tune.

When he was ready for his solo, he waved his arm with a flair.
"Just like that." The band held the beat and the old man took over.

He finished, packed up his flute, said his goodbyes and left.

Continue reading "Toronto: The Sunday Lime" »

February 3, 2007

Philly Guide

Philly


A co-worker of mine goes down to Philadelphia regularly to see his gf. He asked for a couple tips on where to take her when he's down there. Below is an edited version. I'm heading down there in a couple weeks, so I'm going through it as a refresher.

Follow the jump for some of my favorite places to eat and drink in the city of brotherly love...

Continue reading "Philly Guide" »

January 28, 2007

Zane's Tavern

Zane's Tavern is the closest thing to down to earth I've found in the Aspen area. I came here last year when I spent a lot more time in snowmass.

Zane's is divey in the best way. It's not hipstery, self-conscious divey or chichi $50 pink trucker hat divey. It's neighborhood bar divey. The bartender knows the regulars - and there are regulars, because the patrons aren't just vacationing visitors - the folks who come here are as likely to be wearing name tags as snow gear.

I'm hardly the slummer who glorifies the 'simple' blue collar life as so much more 'authentic.' I think that's condescending bullshit. Given the other options in the Aspen area though, it's the most refreshing beer you're likely to have.

Continue reading "Zane's Tavern" »

January 7, 2007

SF: Rogue Public House

This post is backdated to back when I was in San Francisco in early January.

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When I found out that Rogue had a pub, I knew I had to go check it out.

The pub is in a corner of North Beach a few blocks away from the bigger tourist attractions of Beat bookshops and Italian restaurants. The space is pretty big, with a smaller second room used for game nights and parties. The vibe was very laidback, I didn't run into any hardcore beer geeks eager to sneer at anyone's beer choice. Despite being owned by an out of town brewery, the place had a decided neighborhood feel. In fact, while I was there, I ran into a former co-worker who had just moved to San Francisco. He and his roommate had been getting settled in and decided to go to the local for a round or two.

I sat at the bar on a quiet Sunday afternoon, while everyone else watched the game, I delved into the tome that listed all the Rogue Ales available. They have 44 taps, pouring mostly Rogue ales, but also nearly a dozen guest brews. I stuck with the Rogues myself, but I appreciated the option.

The beer I tasted after the jump...

Continue reading "SF: Rogue Public House" »

November 3, 2006

"Real Ale" Arrives at the Brazen Head

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(Originally posted at The Brooklyn Record):

It's festival time yet again at the Brazen Head. The tri-annual Cask Ale Festival begins tonight. This time there will be more cask ales than ever. They will be offering 22 hand-drawn beers from foreign and domestic producers, including local brews from Heartland, Six Points and Brooklyn. Stop in and sample one or several ales hand-drawn to perfection and served in pint or half-pint glasses at a civilized temperature -- much more appropriate to the chilly fall weather. For those unfamiliar, cask conditioned ale or "Real Ale" as proponents call it, is described by Wikipedia as "the term given to unfiltered and unpasteurised beer which is conditioned and served from a cask without additional pressure."

The experience of drinking a cask ale can be jarring at first. If you are used to cold, fizzy beer your first impression may be that the beer is warm and flat. If you take a moment to get past that, you will be rewarded with a depth of flavor you have never experienced before in beer. Strong, hoppy IPAs become more approachable, while the texture and malts take center stage in the stouts.

Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery has written that his first taste of cask ale was the beginning of his life in beer. He describes his this experience in his book, The Brewmaster's Table:

The first sip was odd. This beer hardly had a head, just a loose lace of bubbles around the rim of the glass. As I started to drink it, I wondered, 'What is this stuff?' The bitterness ran across my tongue, assisted by only the faintest prickle of carbonation. Then it exploded in layers of flavor ­-- hay, earth, newly mowed grass, orange marmalade and baking bread. It wasn't even cold -- in fact, it was barely cool. Each sip seemed to reveal something new --­ a whiff of sea air, a different flower or fruit. Did I like it? I wasn't sure. But it was so interesting that I couldn't stop drinking it. Then my glass was empty. The beer was all gone and I missed it already.

Don't miss your chance to experience "real ale" as it was intended.
-- clay williams

The Brazen Head is located at 228 Atlantic Avenue between Court Street and Boerum Place.

October 13, 2006

Keep On Shucking

Tomorrow evening, Saturday, October 14, Brazen Head looks east to the shores of Long Island with a good old-fashioned clam shuck. There will be Little Neck Clams and Blue Point Oysters for your slurping pleasure and two varieties of savory clam chowder. Here's a tip: try them both. Set aside your soup convictions for a night — both are great. After trying them, you may find yourself questioning your belief in One True Chowder...

Wash all that briny goodness down with any of the four beers from the Bluepoint Brewery, including their Toasted Lager and the Oatmeal Stout. One of the beers will be offered as a cask ale, hand drawn through one of Brazen Head's two beer engines. — clay williams

Brooklyn Clam Shuck: Saturday, October 14th – 5pm to 10pm.
Brazen Head: 228 Atlantic Avenue between Court Street and Boerum Place

October 4, 2006

Stonehome's Autumn Wine Picks

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Down the bar

No more standing in line to sit in a 'garden' smaller than your kitchen with 3 dozen of your closest neighbors. It's time to go in. Stonehome Winebar in Fort Greene has exactly the right vibe to recover from the bustle of summer festivities. Stonehome is relaxed but not sleepy, the perfect place for a laidback night out with friends or a romantic evening for two.

Proprietors Bill Stenehjem and Rose Hermann have lived in the neighborhood for 25 years. They opened Stonehome in 2003 and found a local following right away. Neighbors meet at the long curvy cherry wood bar and discuss the day, local issues and, of course, the wine. The staff knows regulars by name and wine preference. When new bottles come in, they’ll let you know which are up your alley...

Earlier this year Bill and Rose hired John Gibson to head up the kitchen. The menu was transformed. Stonehome offers new specials daily, using seasonal ingredients in some pretty exciting ways. This time of year, John is using walnuts, maple syrup, beets and acorn squash. The menu is full of comforting fall savories like Braised Beef Short Ribs and Glazed Pork.

Rose and Bill are matching these dishes with some new wine offerings by the glass. Here are a few of their favorite new additions:

Chateaunnuef du Pape '03, Domaine Des Senechaux — "Rich, supple, with notes of baked plums."

Coteaux du Languedoc, '00, Chateau Peuch-Haut, Saint Drezery — "Savory and spicy, with notes of black cherry and sandlewood."

Ribera del Duero, Spain, Guelbenzu, Evor '03 — "Ripe lingering flavors of black cherry, raspberry, chocolate and licorice."

Rioja, Spain, Marquez De Vargas Reserva, '00 — "Lush, smoky, rich dark fruits, blackberries with brown sugar."

Stonehome Wine Bar is located at 87 Lafayette Avenue at So. Portland. Open everyday from 5pm.

— photo and story by clay williams

July 19, 2006

The Better Borough Beer Guide, Volume 2: Atlantic Avenue

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Brazen Beer

In the wake of the Smith Street explosion, nearby Atlantic Avenue has developed a nightlife of its own. But where Smith Street transformed, leaving behind many of the old neighbors for a new young crowd, the scene on Atlantic is classic Brooklyn. Each bar provides warm, welcoming service to all who enter. Even better, for the purposes of our guide, they all serve beer that you may not find anywhere else.

The Brazen Head is a beer destination. Besides having a regularly changing selection of 15 top notch beers on tap, it is one of a select few bars in New York that offer cask ales. It has two beer engines that serve out beer the old-fashioned way. Three times a year, The Brazen Head hosts its Cask Ale Festival, drawing ales from far and wide. The next festival is slated for November. Don't miss it. Check out the chalkboards on the wall to find out about events like dart contests, nightly specials, as well as upcoming festivals. The regular crowd includes bartenders from neighboring bars and locals stopping in for a pint and a chat with friends. (228 Atlantic Avenue, between Court St. & Boerum Pl.)

Read on for Pete's Waterfront Ale House, Floyd, and Chip Shop...

Waterfront Ale House, a bar and grill, is a neighborhood institution. "Pete's," as regulars call it, was among the first beer bars in Brooklyn and still serves one of the finest selections of craft beers in town. Weekly jazz and blues performances bring friends and neighbors to take in good music and good company. The food is traditional pub food, often with an exotic twist like the Kobe Beef Burger with homemade wasabi catsup or the Venison Chili. Waterfront is a family saloon, so don't be surprised to find a row of strollers parked up front on any given evening. (155 Atlantic Avenue, between Henry St. & Clinton St.)

Floyd NY immediately drew attention when it opened in 2004, due largely to its indoor bocce court. Besides teaching people to bowl again, Floyd NY provides a comfortable wide-open space to relax. One bartender describes the space as "Rustic; raw but stylish." He attributes a lot of the appeal to the size of the space, formerly two storefronts. Despite all its space, the bar is often full. Usually bustling, the crowds vary from night to night. The 8 tap beers are good, if common selections. What really earns Floyd NY a place on this list is its selection of bad beer. Obscurity runs both ways, and in this case, you'd be hard pressed to find another bar that serves Stroh's, Schmidt, Schlitz, Miller High Life, Piel's and Colt 45. Dubbed the crapucopia, it is served chilled in a bucket of ice in the cans they came in. (131 Atlantic Ave., between Henry & Clinton Streets)

Next door to Floyd NY is Chip Shop. The Park Slope fish 'n' chips restaurant opened this branch early last year. This deep fried slice of British culture would not be complete without a respectable selection of British beer. In addition to serving some of the best beer the United Kingdom has to offer, Chip Shop rounds out its 16 taps with a some of the best beer found right here in the US. Every week two new beers are tapped, keeping the rotation constantly fresh. (129 Atlantic Ave., between Clinton & Henry)

— clay williams
[Photo by ultraclay!]

July 11, 2006

Wiliamsburg: Brooklyn's Beer Capital

(Originally Posted at The Brooklyn Record):
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The Better Borough Beer Guide, Volume 1

It's no surprise that Brooklyn's former brewing center is now home to some of the best beer drinking in town. For a proper beer tour, start out on a Friday evening or Saturday afternoon at the Brooklyn Brewery for its Friday night happy hour or Saturday tours.

Mugs Ale House is the place to go when you want to geek out with other beer connoisseurs. The Malted Barley Appreciation Society meets here monthly. The crowd is older than at many of the other bars in the area, and there is a strong contingent of regulars who may seem aloof to a first-time visitor, but they warm up pretty quickly to beer talk. The food is standard pub grub — no better, no worse. (125 Bedford Ave.; L to Bedford Ave.)

Spike Hill, Spuytin Duvil, and Barcade after the jump...

Spike Hill is not your typical beer bar. There are 12 taps and nearly 50 bottles, serving up beer of all styles and nationalities — yet it has none of the geekery you might expect. There's no need to impress anyone with your vast beer knowledge here. You can sit in the front window and watch Bedford Avenue pass by, chat with fellow patrons at the long dark wood bar, and/or pack into the deep booths in the back with friends or a laptop. The menu takes unassuming dishes like grilled cheese and makes them interesting as well as comforting by changing up the breads and cheeses. (184 Bedford Avenue, L to Bedford Ave.)

Spuytin Duyvil sits in an unlikely storefront, away from the neighborhood's main strips. Behind the hole-in-the-wall façade lays a gourmet soul. Snacks include ever-changing offerings of meats, cheeses and pâtés. The beer selection is impressive, with representatives from Sri Lanka to Switzerland and a rather large delegation of Belgians, which are broken down into Flemish and Wallonian. (359 Metropolitan Avenue, L to Metropolitan, G to Lorimer St.)

Barcade has everything adulthood should have: great beer and video games. Knock back one of the two dozen beers on tap while playing Frogger or Zaxxon or Moon Patrol or any of the other '80s video games. A pool table is in the back for those seeking a more traditional bar game. Gothamist recently ran an interview with Paul Kermizian, filmmaker and owner of Barcade. (388 Union Ave. L to Metropolitan, G to Lorimer St.)

—clay williams
Stay tuned for more installments of the Better Borough Beer Guide from Clay, our in-house beer expert.
[Photo by ultraclay!]


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