Bars, books, french fries and such!

Or….Places I like and why!

On occasion, I like to go to a nearby establishment in the late afternoon for a light libation, a little bar conversation, and, perhaps,  with a book or crossword puzzle.

A friendly comfortable place that likes us “older folks”, walking distance from my apartment  and not crazy expensive and serves a good wine, or bourbon old fashioned and french fries.   You would think that would be easy to find in this  City, and it is, but it does take a little time  and effort.

I know, you get the walking, likes seniors, reasonable, but what’s with the french fries?   A tradition, I’m big on traditions.  This all started with my younger trouble-making sisters.  One of them said,  “Let’s stop for a drink.”  Found ourselves a place and sat down at the bar.   We just wanted a little something to pick on. Looked over the appetizers, but nothing.  Looked at the rest of the menu ,and there it was… French Fries.   Those luscious fattening little  things have  become the  go-to bar snack for me and most of my family and friends.

What’s a girl to do?

One afternoon I was walking back from my local small bookstore with my new book in hand.   It wasn’t really what I wanted to do, but I did it anyway, spend the money that is.  I love browsing  independent book stores like Shakespeare & Co.  on Lexington Ave.  I could have borrowed it from the library, but I have a thing about having my own copy.     Although, I do borrow on occasion.  Coulda, woulda, shoulda, so I bought it.   Senior moment…can’t remember the name of the book.

It had just started to rain, when I stopped that day at Donohue’s, also on Lexington (opened in 1950),   Imagedown the street from my apt.  I sat at the bar and ordered an old fashioned and, of course, fries. A couple came in and sat next to me.  I smiled and then went back to cursing Will Shortz. (you know, the editor of the NY Times crossword) as I worked on that day’s puzzle.  “Excuse me,” I heard and turned to look at the two next to me.  She asked, “Do you know the best way to get to  the Metropolitan Opera?”  It was so hard not to say, “Practice, practice,practice.” But, no, I didn’t.  Their question  started a conversation about The Met opera and The Met museum.  Then some goodbyes and off they went to Lincoln Center and “Aida”. There you have it… a nice place, good drink, bar conversation, fries  and home. That’s what I’m talking about!

Finnegan's Wake - New York, NY, United States

And over on First  Avenue, a  dear friend introduced me t0 Finnegans Wake Pub, it’s  been there since 1972.  Besides the ubiquitous french fries, they make a delicious chicken pot pie. Chicken pot pie seems to be standard pub fare, some are ok, but theirs is really, really yummy.   The conversations between my friend and I  and the tables around us or at the bar are always fun at this cozy neighborhood place. Drinks are good and the price is right!

 “Wait for it”

Then on  Second and 70th  is Beach  Cafe.  (since 1968) a little bar/restaurant, where you can get a great bourbon old fashioned. It has really been through tough times for a while now  with the noise and scaffolding and walls up for the Second Avenue subway.  But another comfortable easy place to stop with friendly folk from the area.  Just ignore the Photo Dec 23, 4 08 39 PM.jpgconstruction around.    “Hamilton” was the bar conversation one afternoon, when I heard the woman next to me say to the fellow next to her,  incredulously “You’ve seen Hamilton how many times?”  He laughed and said, “Six.”   “How did you manage that?”, she asked. Now all our eyes were  focused on this lucky guy. He gave an answer that wasn’t a surprise.”I have a friend who has a friend who knows somebody.”  We laughed.  I had to go, but I heard this comment as I left, smiling. “I didn’t think you had any friends.”

“If you’re gonna dance, you gotta  pay the band”  

 One of my favorite places, in the City,  is the classic  New York bar, Bemelmens  at the Carlyle Hotel (1947) on Madison Avenue, little further away from the others, but worth the walk.   I love  the atmosphere and the wonderful bonus of listening to the  jazz pianist playing those great  standards. There was a wonderful bartender there, that retired a few years ago, he made, according to a friend,  the best Cosmopolitan ever!   Drinks are still great and  their little trio of bar snacks, which they keep refilling, will make one forget about french fries.   Just  be ready for the “ouch factor” when  it’s time to pay the bill.  It’s become, for me, a special occasion place.  As an aside, it is one of the best places for eavesdropping… and  do I have stories to tell?   Woo Hoo!  ‘nother post,’nother time.Bemelmans Bar | The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel

“In my own little corner” 

 Just so you know, I’m not promoting any of these places. I’ve had  interesting times at each and wanted to tell you about them, because as vast as NYC  is,  it is filled with  neighborhoods and communities and these places happen to be in mine.  However, my most favorite place is in my own apartment, in my comfortable chair, my feet up,  with  a good book, some jazz playing in the background,  and a nice glass of something. French fries can wait.

 Enjoy!

 Love this City.

Senior moment  recovery :  The book was  the last of the Ferrante Neopolitan Novels, The Story of the Lost Child. Now I remember why I  couldn’t borrow  it from the library, I have the other three, can’t break up a set.

KAY’S NOTES

Important to know:  The locations of the places in this post are  all on the Upper East Side and within a few blocks of each other with the one exception of Bemelmans which is a little further away – but not that far.

Donohue’s, Lexington Avenue between 64th and 65th

Shakespeare & Co, Lexington between 68th and 69th

The Beach Cafe, Second Ave and 70th

Finnegans Wake Pub, First Ave and 72nd (no apostrophe-according to their site)

Bemelmans Bar, Madison Ave and 76th (no apostrophe here, either)

Photos: Courtesy of their websites

Disclaimer: I try for correct info on my posts, but no guarantees people. 


Author: Kay

I knew when I started my blog I wanted to reach out to seniors like myself. I wanted to share my stories and even be a bit of a tour guide on what I’ve learned and the fun I’ve had at famous and not so famous New York places.

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