Murray Hill Survival Guide

This beautiful play that I’m lucky to perform in most nights (we close January 15 — get your tickets here!) has been awesome. The worst thing about it is that it’s in Murray Hill. So on Wednesday January 5, I decided to try a bunch of different bars in the neighborhood. I will never be around here if I’m not forced, so I did it all in one night. That’s right. I jumped in the lion’s den. Happy New Year.

BAR #1: Desmond’s Tavern, 433 Park Avenue btw 29th and 30th St

The Place: An Irish pub with horrible lighting.

The Time: 9:50pm-10:15pm

The Vibe: I can’t get over this awful fluorescent lighting. It’s very empty here, just a couple of people at the bar, a few guys at a table in the back. There are two bros at the corner of the bar; one winks at me while I’m still in my winter bundle. Before I’ve taken off my coat they call the bartender over, hug her, thank her for “everythingggggg” and leave. Saved by that bell. There’s a basketball game on. Two guys with a mountain of hot wings in front of them really love basketball and they don’t care who knows it! Ugh I can’t read in here because they’re so loud but now I’m that asshole glued to her phone. I guess I’ll watch sports?

The Bartender: Two Irish women who are unabashedly eating the guys’ wings. When they aren’t eating, they’re on their phones.

The Drank: Magners Cider, $6.50. I drink half of it.

Was I Hit On? One of the basketball-loving wing-eating guys went over to the digital jukebox, puts on something that sounds like a medieval chant, then looks in my direction and smiles. I get out of there before he has any chance to approach me.

Should You Drink Here Alone? No, don’t suffer. Unless dirty Irish bars are really your thing.

BAR #2: Middle Branch, 154 E. 33rd St btw Lex and 3rd

The Place: A speakeasy-style cocktail bar that camouflages itself in a brownstone so bros don’t know it exists

The Time: 10:25pm-11pm

The Vibe: Very different energy from Desmond’s, thank god. The bouncer is wearing a very nice turtleneck sweater. There aren’t many people here but it’s still pretty loud. It’s a cozy intimate space with exposed brick, but there are no bar stools at the bar or anywhere else so I have to stand at one of the long high tables. Definitely no douchey bros, just couples and guys in their mid 30s who wear scarves indoors. I can’t read here either because it’s too dark. I wish there was a fireplace, it seems like it’d have one.

The Bartender: A nice and funny guy named Joe who I can’t hang out with because there are no bar stools!

The Drank: Some artisanal cider (“cidre”) for $8. You guys, cocktails here are $16! If this was the only bar I was hitting up tonight, maybe I’d splurge. But hey, the first round of pretzels is free so at least that. Before I leave, Joe says, “next time you come, have a cocktail.” And I’m like, “Joe. I know you know, but did you know they’re 16 dollars!?”

Was I Hit On? No. I have to admit: I cheated a little bit with coming here. I haven’t been here before but I know the team behind it (other bars in the hospitality group are Fresh Kills, Dutch Kills and Little Branch), so in a way, I added a safe space to my bar crawl. A “speakeasy” in Murray Hill that charges $16 a cocktail is not attracting the typical crowd for this hood.

Should You Drink Here Alone? Totally. It’s a good place to hide if you need to be around this part of the town. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the sticker shock. (Free pretzels help. A little.)

BAR #3: Pino, 156 E. 33rd St btw Lex and 3rd

The Place: A tiny wine bar right next to Middle Branch with high ceilings, an open kitchen and a suuuuuuppppper chummy staff.

The Time: 11:05pm-12am

The Vibe: I’m greeted immediately by two middle aged guys behind the bar, the bartender (Jay) and the chef (Jason). Jason’s the one who asks all the questions (“Are you eating? Just drinking? With anyone?” Then opens his arms wide when I say it’s just me so take that as you will). There’s a drunk couple dancing. He’s trying to teach her to dance but she’s actually way better than him. THEY ARE SCREAMING and this place is the size of my bathroom. There’s an older solo guy at the other end of the bar playing a game on his phone. Ugh this is another place I can’t read because it’s too dark. I get it’s supposed to be “intimate” but give a girl a light, nah mean?

The Bartender: Jay was friendly and helped me find a wine I liked since I’m picky about reds and it’s winter so I should drink red. He’s also an actor who’s shooting a zombie movie in Ontario next month (go Jay!)

The Drank: Glass of Pinot Noir, $12 (it was the cheapest one, really)

Was I Hit On? I’m nervous at first when Jason comes around to my side of the bar and starts chatting. He calls me toots and I don’t dig that too much. But then I realize he’s just like this and isn’t hitting on me. Then he starts talking to Jay and the older guy (Jonathan). Someone said the word “mugs” and I thought I heard “pugs” and Jason’s like, “no, like coffee mugs” and I’m like “but pugs are the best” and then the four of us all start talking about dogs. Then Joe from Middle Branch comes in on his break and we’re all hanging out and I feel weird that I’m the only one without a J name. Then Jason gives me a spoonful of chocolate mousse as consolation and I invite them all to my play and give them each a hug when I depart and I ended up having a great time tonight so who really knows anything anymore.

Should You Drink Here Alone? Yeah. The guys who work here are real chill. They also hate Murray Hill so stop in for a glass of wine and some good shit talking.

BAR #4: Brick Oven Pizza 33, 489 3rd Ave at 33rd St

Not a bar. Just good pizza.

I didn’t make it to my planned fourth bar, Joshua Tree. It was rated the douchiest bar in New York City by this random website, so I know what I would’ve been myself getting into. After I left Pino, I thought: I could either end my nice night on a shitty note at a douchey bar, or eat a slice of pizza and go home. I chose the pizza. I always choose the pizza.

So there you have it. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad, in my opinion. If you know of any other good bars in Murray Hill, let me know, but I can’t tell you I won’t stop hating this part of the city.

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why i haven’t posted in a hot minute.

Hey. So it’s been about two months since I last posted a review. Not that anyone is refreshing the page every hour, waiting anxiously for my next post, but I thought I should explain why it’s been so long. A few things have been going on.

The good news: I got cast in a play (yay!) Brief shameless plug: It’s a remarkable story that I get to tell with a powerhouse group of women and it’s been a wonderful source of joy and light and love that’s entered my life. You can read more about it here and get tickets here. All that said, it’s taken over most of my evenings. And I haven’t really felt like going out drinking by myself after several hours of rehearsal on a pretty intense play.

The less great news: One Monday night at the end of October, I went out with one of my female friends. We first went to a really fun cider tasting, then to a quiet bar in the East Village for a nightcap before heading home. We were minding our own business, having a great time, when two Australian guys sat down next to us at the bar. They asked if we would like to take a shot with them. We accepted, and the four of us took a shot of “nice” Irish whiskey (it was fine, but one of the guys was insistent that this was “really good shit.” It was Tullamore Dew, which is good, but not Macallan 15, you feel me?) Anyway, my friend and one of the guys were chatting, hitting it off a bit. I was a little out of it, since we’d been drinking for a while and I was ready to go home. But we were having fun and the guys seemed nice so whatever. Eventually, they asked if we wanted to get another drink with them somewhere else. We both had to work in the morning, so we declined. The guy my friend was talking to didn’t like this very much, and started to argue with her. At one point, he got up in her face and was asking her to hit him (I have no idea why and neither does she). He was up in her face, saying “slap me slap me c’mon slap me” over and over until finally, she slapped him. Not hard, but she slapped him to get him out of her face. I would’ve done the same thing. Then she went to the bathroom. The guy then turns to me and starts yelling at me, saying that we’re dumb bitches, that we’re everything that’s wrong with women, that we’re dirty feminists. When he screamed in my face, “WHY DID SHE HIT ME” I calmly replied, “Maybe because you asked her to.” And I guess he didn’t like that either because then he yelled “YOU FUCKING IDIOT WE BOUGHT YOU SHOTS HOW DARE YOU” And I told him that we don’t owe him anything just because he bought us shots. He really hated that concept. My friend came back from the bathroom and he starts yelling at her. The other guy comes over to me and says that we should leave, because his friend’s not gonna stop. I quickly pay our bill, then after the dude shouts in my friend’s face “WE BOUGHT YOU SHOTS FUCK YOU HOW DARE YOU” for a twelfth time, my friend turns to the bartender and asks to pay for all the shots. At this point, two guys from the other end of the bar come over and start talking to the Australians, distracting them, asking what’s going on here. The bartender tells us he won’t let us pay for the shots. We make our escape and run as fast as we can toward the train. Once we’re several blocks away, we both burst into tears.

And my first thought was how lucky we were that we got away. How lucky that that asshole showed his true colors early. That my friend didn’t end up giving him her number or going on a date with him. That she didn’t have the chance to get trapped in a room with him if she said she didn’t want to have sex. And I’ve felt very lucky that I haven’t met men like this when out at a bar alone. How terrible that I have to feel fortunate each time I’m not accosted by a man who feels I owe him something. My friend and I were both pretty shaken after this night, and I for one avoided bars in general, and certainly didn’t want to go to one alone for a while.

Then the election happened. And I was (am) gutted. There has been too much amazing writing about this for me to attempt to articulate it.* I was shocked. Then in denial. Then angry, spitting venom, punching walls, screaming at anyone. Then I fell into the quicksand of depression, taking me under the weight of the horror of this world. And I’ve been cycling through anger and depression for these past few weeks. I didn’t want to go out to a bar for fear that I would get into a fight, that I would throw a drink in the face of anyone who tried to fuck with me. I imagined that every man I encountered would try to antagonize me in some way, that every man was out to get me because that’s what men do, they keep women down, they silence them, they make them feel inferior. Because we live in a world where the dumbest, most incompetent, least qualified man-child can beat the smartest, most competent, most qualified woman. Now, I know not all men are like this. I know not all men are bad. I know a lot of good men. But it’s been very difficult for me to look in a strange man’s eyes and be polite. Because I don’t trust most men anymore, even in the liberal safe haven that is New York City. And I’ve been embarrassed at how long it’s taking me to get out of this sinkhole of sadness. But I’m feeling a bit more ready to climb out, dust off, and pull up a bar stool.

This girl will still go out drinking alone. Because fear and hatred will never truly win in the end. The battle has only begun.

*Here are a few articles:

A Letter to Young Women: How We Will All Move Forward Together Now

My Daughter Grew Up Believing She Could Do Anything

Empathy isn’t a favor I owe white Trump voters. It has to go both ways.

BELLE SHOALS

10 Hope St btw Roebling and Havemeyer Sts, Williamsburg

The Place: A relaxed, relatively new, Southern-style cocktail bar on one of the quieter streets in north side Williamsburg. (I know, I’ve been hanging in my local North Brooklyn a lot lately. I don’t go into Manhattan when I don’t have to.)

The Time: Wednesday October 5, 8pm. The night of my boyfriend’s amateur soccer league final. He asked me to come. I told him I would but only if I could come tipsy. He agreed. The game started at 9, so I popped into Belle Shoals for a pre-game libation after I got lost in the new Whole Foods on Bedford.

The Vibe: There was no one in the bar when I got there. For a second I wondered if they were even open but then a big bearded man came out of the kitchen and greeted me. We were both equally pleased to see each other. I made myself at home in the Southern gothic inspired interior, complete with an amazing vintage jukebox, red velvet curtains and a miniature fountain built into the wall. They’ve got a garden in the back, which is where a few other people were hanging out. Soon, a group of four white dudes accumulated at the bar and ordered burgers and beers. I found out that they were heading to a reggae show later. Oh, Brooklyn.

The Bartender: Josh Mazza, the owner of this bar and others I’ve been to, turns out. What an awesome guy. We chatted about a lot of stuff: liquor (naturally), our backgrounds, the business, Williamsburg. He tells me the story of the Wurtlizer juke; he doesn’t make me feel bad for not knowing what hushpuppies are. The later I stay, the more the bar fills up, and Josh waves to everyone who comes in. I think he must know them, but he doesn’t. He’s just nice.

The Drank: When Josh asked what I was in the mood for, I told him where I was going after this. “Ohhh amateur soccer. So something a little boozy, a fireside sipper.” He made me a concoction not on the menu, called the Air Sling: apple brandy, aloe liqueur, bitter cherry liqueur, white cacao, bitters. Stirred, served on the rocks. It was delicious and unusual and just what I was craving. A perfect beginning-of-fall cocktail.

Was I Hit On? The white guys and I stayed separate for the most part. Until I ask for a parting shot of amaro. Josh pours them for us, then offers it to the guys. They stare at him like deer in headlights. Josh then says, “don’t worry, it’s gentle” and they all agree to take the shots. So Josh, the dudes and I cheers to reggae. And after you take a shot with someone, you become friends. They invited me to the reggae show, I told them I had a nonprofessional soccer game to go to, and we amicably parted ways.

Should You Drink Here Alone? Hell yeah. I had such a great time! Between the cocktails and the crew, Belle Shoals will give you a real taste of Southern hospitality.

SAUVAGE

905 Lorimer St at Nassau Ave, Greenpoint

The Place: A super lovely, trendy French restaurant/bar that’s run by the same folks as Maison Premiere, right on the Williamsburg-Greenpoint border.

The Time: Saturday September 17, 8:30pm. Guys. I’m at a bar alone in a hip neighborhood on a Saturday night. It’s terrifying. I’ll be up front in admitting that I’m only here by myself because a friend cancelled on me last minute, and instead of turning around and getting back on the G train, I decided to face my fears and go to Sauvage anyway. I’m a strong, independent woman. I can do this!

The Vibe: I’m trying to pump myself up with cool girl energy as I make my way into the bar, until the hostess stops me and asks the dreaded question: “Hi, how many in your party?” After a lengthy pause, I respond awkwardly, “Um, oh, I just wanted to get a drink at the bar, it’s just me.” She has to go and check if there’s room for me at the bar! As I’m contemplating running away from what seems like a dreadful situation, looking around at all the people sitting having dinner outside and all the people sitting having dinner inside, she comes back and leads me in. It’s a really beautiful space, with a marble bar top and a seafoam green back wall. I get to pretend I’m in France, and that takes away the horror of being out alone in what is the trendiest, most crowded part of Brooklyn. Everyone in here, customers and staff, is beautiful and under 35. Since it’s right on the edge of Williamsburg, I sense it’s mostly populated with Williamsburg spill-off, unlike Moonlight Mile, which none of these gorgeous hipsters probably know exists. There’s a super funky photo in the corner of two older people wearing sunglasses. I’ve decided these folks in the photo are now my dates for the evening, and we can all pretend to be French together.

The Drank: Sloe Moon’s Rose, a riff on a Sloe Gin Fizz, with sloe gin (duh), framboise, lime and gin, served over crushed ice. It’s bright pink with a paper swizzle straw, and I feel only slightly ridiculous until I taste it, and feel ridiculous no more because it’s delicious. The menu has a handful of low-proof cocktails like this, and a really interesting list of spirits, i.e. I don’t recognize any of them. I want to ask the bartender what the story is with this.

The Bartender: A very nice woman who’s so busy, I can’t ask her about the photo of the sunglassed people or the spirits list. But she’s helpful in assuaging my fears and assures me that my drink would not be too sweet. She’s right.

Was I Hit On? Luckily I had my notebook on me so I could spend some time writing. After I’m here for a while, a guy sits down next to me, takes out a notebook and he starts writing. Journaling at a bar on a weekend is a weird thing; even weirder for two people who don’t know each other to be doing it side by side. The two guys at the end of the bar notice how strange this is. I see one of them mouth to the other, “is this Improv Everywhere?” and his friend looks around for other people who might also have notebooks. Eventually, Writer Guy breaks the ice and mentions the coincidence, asked with a sly “Excuse me, but I need to know: are you copying me?” He’s nice enough and honestly, I’m grateful for the company. We chat for a while, and as I’m about to leave, he asks if I want to get a drink with him somewhere else. I politely decline; he doesn’t make a fuss and says it was nice talking to me. Civility still exists somewhere in this hate-riddled world.

Should You Drink Here Alone? Oui oui mon cherie. Sauvage was perfectly pleasant on a busy Saturday night for a lady riding solo. Personally, I’d rather come here with a hungry friend to enjoy that yummy looking food that was coming out of the kitchen. But for going out alone on a weekend in this neighborhood? Could’ve been a lot worse.

THE MOONLIGHT MILE

200 Franklin St nr India St, Greenpoint

The Place: A laid-back and unpretentious whiskey bar nestled in a residential corner of Greenpoint inhabited by people who probably never leave Greenpoint.

The Time: Wednesday August 3, 6:15pm. Hankering a good cocktail and a change of scenery before treating myself to The Color Purple (HOLY SHIT CYNTHIA ERIVO), I headed up to the Moonlight Mile. A peculiar name, but I can get down with weirdos. I really try to spend as little time around Times Square as humanly possible, and Greenpoint is a nice quiet antidote to the tourist mayhem that ensues in midtown.

The Vibe: I’m the only person in the bar when I walk in. Immediately this makes me nervous. But the two bartenders are very friendly and welcoming so I stay. It’s a big open space, with tons of light pouring through the open windows. There’s a lovely cross-breeze happening, which makes me forget I’m indoors. With this breeze and light, it’s just as nice as a rooftop bar, but without all the asshole rooftop bar people. Soon after I get there, it starts to fill up. I kid you not, the bartenders know the names of Every. Single. Person. who walks in this bar. Literally everyone! “Hey Debbie, nice haircut!” “How you doing, Bruce?” “What’ll it be Chris, the usual?” OMG my boyfriend barely notices when I get a haircut, I would LOVE my bartender to compliment my new hairstyle while he makes me “the usual.” Are you fucking kidding, that would be so cool! And what’s more, they all know each other! Everyone either came to the bar alone or with one other person, and yet everyone seems to know everyone else. I’ve determined that Moonlight Mile is the hipster Brooklyn whiskey bar version of Cheers.

The Drank: The Ned Stark – High West rye, allspice, muddled pear, lemon, habanero syrup, shaken over ice. It’s super refreshing, and I’ve never had pear in a cocktail before so points for creativity. They have a great cocktail list, and an expansive whiskey list, heavy on rye and bourbon. They’ve got a bunch of good beers on tap too. Something for everyone! (Unless you exclusively drink vodka, then go to a vodka bar because you must be Russian.)

The Bartender: A really nice chill guy named Asaf. I didn’t catch the other guy’s name, since he was on the other side of the bar. We talked a bit about the industry. He used to work at the Meatball Shop, and he also couldn’t get over the size and color of the grapefruits they got in today. He went to the Panorama music festival with Chris, the guy who was sitting next to me. Now you know basically everything I know about Asaf.

Was I Hit On? No, just had a lovely conversation with Asaf and Chris and Debbie. I asked Bruce how his drink was and he nodded so we had a good rapport going. I couldn’t get any reading done because we were all hanging out and talking. I guess I could’ve extrapolated myself and sat by the window but I was having fun with these folks. Why ruin a good time by reading a book? How dull.

Should You Drink Here Alone? If you wanna chat and meet some new people, absolutely, especially if you live in Greenpoint. Since I don’t live around there, I did feel a bit out of the loop, but everyone was sociable, and didn’t exclude this Williamsburg girl from their club. If you prefer some quiet time to get work done or because you’re sick of talking to people, maybe pick another spot. But the Moonlight Mile is perfect if great whiskey and good conversation is your jam.

PACIFIC STANDARD

82 4th Ave at St Marks Pl, Park Slope

The Place: A chill, West Coast-themed bar in Brooklyn that was showing the Democratic National Convention.

The Time: Tuesday, July 27 8pm. I’ve been pretty much entirely consumed with politics this election season, and finding myself a rare free evening, I decided to go to a bar to watch the convention as opposed to live streaming it on my computer in my apartment. This is my version of going to a bar to watch sports. The only times I’ve ever gone to a bar with the intention of watching something has been for this and the Oscars, and I’m totally fine with what this says about me.

The Vibe: It feels cozy and friendly from the minute I walk in. There’s a nice bar space in front with a screening room in back, projecting the convention on a big screen on the back wall. It’s also playing with subtitles on the TV at the bar, so I sidle up and make myself at home. The atmosphere is like a kid who plays lacrosse at Oakland decided to make his dorm room into a dive bar. There’s tons of California memorabilia lining the wooden and brick walls – license plates, giant beer caps, athletic flags. The last of the summer light pours in through the large front windows. The bar top is one of those slated old style ones like they have at Dutch Kills, which annoys me but it’s just my personal grievance. Groups of two pepper the bar: friends, friendly couples. The back room starts to fill up with larger groups, clearly here for the DNC, but there are also plenty of locals enjoying their neighborhood bar on a Tuesday night. The music is 90s and 00s pop and hip hop, and I find it hilarious to watch the DNC with subtitles while “Sexy Can I” by Ray J circa 2007 plays in the background. I really dig the vibe of this place, but I find it kinda strange to have a West Coast-theme bar in NYC. Then again, it’s definitely weirder to have an NYC-themed bar in NYC so I accept it.

The Drank: A classic Dark n Stormy, made with both Gosling’s rum and Gosling’s ginger beer. It’s got the right amount of lime too and for $9, I’m a very happy camper. They’ve got a great selection of draft beers and a pretty good wine selection as well. They also have classic pub food, like tacos and hot dogs, with both meat and veggie options, because this is Brooklyn after all. And it was Taco Tuesday, so you could get two tacos for 5 bucks! I stupidly ate before I came here, otherwise I would’ve been all over this.

The Bartender: First, there was one bartender, a woman in black with glasses and a loose bun. Her voice cuts through the light din of other voices, yet it took me a sec to realize she was talking to me because she was doing shit somewhere else, cuz duh, she’s a busy lady. Then a second bartender rushes in, hangs up his bag, puts a bar rag in his pocket and is ready to rock. He wears a Joshua Tree t-shirt and is super sweaty. Pretty soon, the other bartender is done with her shift, so she chills at the corner of the bar for a while with a whiskey and a Bud Light.

Was I Hit On? No but I made friends with a guy named Mark who stood next to me as the bartender, also named Mark I found out, slid his whiskey to him. I told Mark I’d never actually seen someone have a drink slid to them before. When Bartender Mark asked me if I’d like another round, I said I was intrigued by the $4 prosecco special (!) but wanted a drink slid to me. So Bartender Mark put prosecco in a rocks glass and slid it to me!! I’ve never felt so cool. Other Mark and I chatted for a while. He works at the bar across the street, “only during happy hour, I need the light, can’t work in the dark no more,” and he stops in to see his buds at Pacific Standard for a Jameson before hopping the train home to Queens. He’s also a born and bred New Yorker who was vegetarian for several years. When he left, I told him I’d come by his bar sometime. Yay to making new friends and having pleasant conversations with strange men who aren’t creepers!

Should You Drink Here Alone? Yes! So happy I found a chill new bar to hang at when my version of sports is on TV. And they have trivia nights! And stand-up nights! And non-creepy men! You guys, come here alone and with friends. You definitely won’t be disappointed.

THE GANDER

15 W. 18th St btw 5th and 6th ave, Flatiron

The Place: A nice, big restaurant right in the middle of Union Square/Flatiron hullaballoo that is directly across from the studio where I’ve been rehearsing for the last month.

The Time: Thursday July 14, 5:45pm. It was a really hot day, as each day seems to be at this point in summer. I had an audition earlier not too far away and was meeting a friend in the same area later so there was plenty of time to kill. Then, as summer likes to do, it started torrentially downpouring unexpectedly and I ran into reliable, overpriced City Bakery for shelter, only to be kicked out 20 minutes later because they were closing. I knew The Gander was right next door and I had no better ideas.

The Vibe: I don’t know anything about this place, but for getting here before 6pm, it was already filling up pretty fast. The hostess says hello but doesn’t tell me anything else, so I make my way to the enormous bar. There’s a nice big marble bar top. The space inside is huge, with a large area in the back slightly sectioned off, presumably for the “finer dining” experience. But nobody was in it. The front section where I was was populated by couples and small groups. At the bar, there were two single guys on their phones, a couple, and a group of three guys on the corner. There was no unifying factor of people except a mid-30s, post-work feel. There are these really tall illuminated panels on the bar made up of bottoms of clear wine bottles. It’s a neat trick. The music is all over the place, like it’s being controlled by the guy at the party with iPod ADD. But the general vibe is very pleasant.

The Drank: A mule off their 3-drink-long happy hour menu that I asked to be made with gin instead of vodka. Thank god for happy hour, because otherwise cocktails are normally $16 but now it’s $10. I really only ordered the mule because I’m cheap and the other two options didn’t appeal to me (a sazerac is too heavy for this time of day, and my other choice was a mysterious “rum punch”). The mule was fine, pretty basic. I wanted more ginger. They have two frozen cocktails in those big machines usually reserved for tiki bars and 7-11. This strikes me as odd because their regular cocktail list isn’t that innovative and has a lot of dumb names: Itza Spritza, Less Boozy Suzy, Matcha Scotcha. Like, come on guys, this isn’t a Dr. Seuss book. After a while, I ordered a side of cauliflower as a little snack, and the bartender tried to put a placemat down for me, which was awkward for both of us since I like to spread out all my stuff and pretend the bar is my home office. Food came out super fast, and was really yummy–it’s a giant hunk of roasted (“charred”) cauliflower and I think it’s the closest I’ll come to feeling like I’m eating steak.

The Bartender: I was waiting at the bar for a while before anyone showed up. Eventually, a tall dude with a bushy beard dressed in all black made an appearance. He was very nice and got his stride quickly, but spent most of the time running around, pouring and repouring beer. They have this big fancy white wine contraption built into the bar, and I ask him about it. He tells me it basically makes bottles of wine come out on tap, but “it’s not working right now, and we’re having trouble with the keg too.” Rough night to work at the Gander. 

Was I Hit On? The solo guy to my left asked the bartender for another glass of wine without looking up from his phone. Rude. Then he sneezed and I said bless you and he didn’t say thank you! Ruder. Then when my food came out, he goes, “god that smells good,” gets up and literally STICKS HIS NOSE IN IT. Rudest! THEN he has the audacity to look at me and say, “Hi, I’m Gary.” Yo, Gary, see all these bar stools? Sit the fuck down. I say nothing and elbow him out of the way to get to my cauliflower. He leaves shortly after that.

Should You Drink Alone Here? I’m gonna say sure, but also, I wouldn’t seek this place out again. If the cauliflower I ate is any indication, come for dinner because it must be good. But the bar scene at The Gander isn’t anything special, even though it’s a nice spot. And I sure as hell don’t wanna run the risk of seeing Gary ever again.