Thursday, August 24, 2006

This is How We Slum It

Slumming It. Once a proud phrase describing those daring, radical, rich, and affluent members of our society willing to go against the grain and live amongst the lowly, yet surprisingly hip and trendy commoners. They smoked and drank in Harlem during the jazz age. In the 70s and 80s they blew coke with the artists in SoHo. Finally, they drank Pabst in the Lower East Side of the 90s and early 2000s. But for anyone who’s eaten at Schiller’s or fought through the Friday night Ludlow Street crowds the days of the LES as slum are over, with this soon to be opened gym as the death knell. Brooklyn looks to fill this new void, but can you still "slum it" in Manhattan? Being both rich and affluent, last Friday I decided to give it a try.

I started after a late day at work by heading to The Blarney Stone, 32nd Street, Herald Square. When you walk into this long dimly lit bar the first thing you notice is the humidity, the next is the smell. It’s not a bad smell but combined with the humid air makes for a unique odor. The reason for this are the steam trays that keep the food at the lunch station (luke) warm. Meats, gravies, sandwiches, mac n’ cheese served on cafeteria style trays that you carry to your table or to the bar. But I didn’t come here to eat, that comes later, I came here to drink and with the size of the bar you always can find a place to sit. Pints of Bud and Bud Light are $4.00 and the top rate bartenders buy back every 4th beer. Yes, this is a bar for drinkers. From a trendy and hip standpoint the bar ranks low, so now’s your chance to get in on the ground floor.

After my free 4th beer I headed out to meet my wife. She was walking down form 51st & 8th, so I said I’d get together with her on 8th Ave and go for a drink wherever we happened to meet. This couldn’t have worked out any better. We met at Port Authority (Yes, I walk fast) and went into McAnn's. McAnn's is actually a bar that I know well from my time living in Weehawken (a slumming it column of it’s own) and the time I came down for New Year’s in a blizzard and was stranded in POA for a good 4 hours. That particular night lead to a stay at the Plaza, but that too is another story.

When it comes to seediness Port Authority cannot be beat, and McAnn’s holds that torch proudly. This bar also features cheap Bud and Bud Lights as well as bright lighting and no hipsters. It’s more of a bridge and tunnel crowd, or more accurately, a tunnel crowd. Potential hip-ness is an absolute zero, but in this ironic age isn’t a zero really a 6? The highest rating any hipster could possibly give something.

It was after another three Bud drafts that I realized I probably should have eaten some mac n’ cheese at the Blarney Stone and we headed out to find some food. We could’ve walked west to Hell’s Kitchen, but if your slumming it from Port Authority you walk due east into the belly of the beast, Time Square.

Where to go to put an exclamation point on this night of slumming? Franchise restaurants. Franchise restaurants depress me, although I do have a soft spot for them, and are a perfect way to end the night. ESPN Zone, too classy. Olive Garden, too many bread sticks. TGIFriday’s, too much flair. No, instead we went to TGIFriday’s ugly little step daughter, Applebee’s. Needless to say, my wife was thrilled.

I ordered the Ribblets & French Fries basket for $13.50 and a Pepsi. My wife ordered water. The Ribblets, I’m not afraid to say, were fucking delicious. Plus, Ribblets help to promote good health. The place was jumping, the wait staff were teriffic and it’s a great place to pretend you’re one of the common folk. More importantly I felt like I belonged to a community. I felt like I was sitting in my very own neighborhood restaurant, the Applebee’s on Dekalb and Flatbush. Catch the trend before Applebee’s becomes too popular (we were seated next to Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenhaal.) Before you know it they’ll be everywhere, maybe even on Ludlow.


Anonymous said...

Come on, something new! This is content from your other blog...

Rick said...

Show yourself! Yes, I recycled this one, although it's always been on this blog. I was going away and I wanted to post some "Best of Kneecapped"