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), down 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!
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 construction 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.
“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.
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.
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.