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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" »

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" »

December 30, 2010

Vietnam: Barbecue Beef at 3T Quan Nuong

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We found 3T Quan Nuong while rummaging through our guidebook for restaurants near the Dong Khoi area where we spent most of our time in Saigon. It doesn't take a lot to sell me on barbecue of any kind, but cook at your table barbecue in a roof garden pretty much demanded my attention. How could we go anywhere else? See the food after the jump.

Continue reading "Vietnam: Barbecue Beef at 3T Quan Nuong" »

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" »

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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

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 28, 2009

Habana Outpost: Summer Time is Here

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I've posted about The Outpost's re-opening every year since I've been blogging. This year, I'm behind the times. They opened up with a street festival as usual that included a performance by KRS-One (that I missed by minutes).

On Memorial Day, Tammi and I had our first Cuban sandwiches of the year and spent a couple hours relaxing over food, drink, and beats provided by DJ Juice E.

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This year there were a few subtle decor changes here and there, but other than that, it was still the Habana Outpost we've come to know and love. The place is a lot more crowded these days than it was those many years ago when they first opened but it's still a good time.

May 22, 2009

DC: Alhambra Negra

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I had this Alhambra at an outdoor bar called Rumba Cafe on 18th Street in Washington. It was a dark, malty beer which is unusual for Spanish beer. The body was lighter, according the the website, "adapted to Mediterranean tastes." It was a good find. I hope to find it again here in New York.

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.

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.

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)

October 8, 2008

Antics 08: Last Exit Burlesque


IMG_9938, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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


IMG_3778, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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 8, 2008

SF: Zeitgeist


IMG_1230, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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.

June 29, 2008

Bars: Spuytin Duyvil


IMG_4629, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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 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 10, 2008

Souvenirs: Bulldog Glass


IMG_1544, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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 2, 2008

Photo of the Day: Yarn & Whiskey


Yarn & Whiskey, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

A girl's best friends.

The Red Lion, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2008.

May 12, 2008

Photo of the Day: Skeptical


IMG_8973, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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.


November 15, 2007

Photo of the Day: Emphasis


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The Red Lion, Greenwich Village, NYC. 2007.

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


IMG_8006.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

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

October 22, 2007

Bars: The Red Lion


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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::

May 11, 2007

Habana Outpost Re-Opening Party


LEE, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

If you're looking for me, tomorrow, look no further than Habana Outpost. I plan to spend as much of the afternoon as I can there. I can't wait to sit out and relax over several beers, a cubano and mexican corn.

::c::

April 29, 2007

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

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 11, 2007

Stonehome's Spring Wine Tasting Dinner

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Seasonal temperatures are (finally) in the forecast, which may mean that Spring is finally here. To celebrate, Stonehome Wine Bar in Fort Greene is hosting a wine tasting dinner on Wednesday, April 18th. The four-course feast will run you $70 but is a relative bargain when you consider what you get: Built around a set of primarily french wines, the menu includes wild salmon, lamb chops and Maine crab ravioli. Each item is paired with a particular wine from Burgundy, Bourdeax or the Loire Valley. Bring it on!

If you can't make it next week, another tasting dinner with a different menu is scheduled for early May, or come by another night and sample in-house chef John Gibson's new spring repertoire. The new menu replaces heavier winter faves like venison and brisket with skate wings, hanger steaks and lamb shanks. Rezzies are required for the tasting dinner but walk-ins are welcomed any other time.

Stonehome Wine Bar is located at 87 Lafayette Avenue, 718-624-9443.

- clay williams

Stonehome's Autumn Wine Picks [Brooklyn Record]

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" »

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)

Continue reading "Philadelphia: Standard Tap" »

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" »

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 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 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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