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August 25, 2009

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 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.

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.

June 30, 2008

Photo of the Day: Beer Goggle


IMG_4507, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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

June 24, 2008

Photo of the Day: Candles and Coasters


IMG_0948, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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

June 23, 2008

Bars: Rudy's


Rudy's, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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 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


The Phantom DJ, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

DJ Jon Oliver at Madame X, NYC. 2007.

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


Hartford: Cheap Drinks, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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::

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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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 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

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.

Continue reading "Bars: Mé Bar" »

March 7, 2007

A new day for The Blind Tiger


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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.

Continue reading "Bon Chon Chicken" »

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" »

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" »

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

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!]


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