Tag Archives: Bars

Parc des Buttes Chaumont

16 Nov

Whether or not this park, tucked away quietly in the 19th arrondissement, resembles a balding mountain is irrelevant.

Relevant: wearing your woolliest jacket and leatheriest gloves so that you’re warm enough to skedaddle along the mountainside trails like the billy goat gruff you are.

The Parc des Buttes Chaumont is not as central as that park in New York but it’s also not overrun with bike-taxi drivers and ice cream vendors. Mais non. The Buttes is the real deal – right down to its artificial stalactites and caves.

After all, when you’re converting an abandoned quarry into a park, what’s wrong with throwing in a well-placed grotto?

Skip the lake that doesn’t freeze and head straight to Rosa Bonheur: one of the most underrated eating/funhavens in Paris named after one of the only painters to have officially been given permission to wear pants.

High five to Napoleon III for coming up with the whole quarry-to-park idea. And to the scruffy waitress for drizzling honey so liberally on the chèvre. And to the DJ for his god-awful-wonderful 80’s mix after dark. And to the Parisians for not caring about cutting loose on the dancefloor for once.

And especially to whoever made the rosé labels look so pretty.

Parc des Buttes Chaumont
19e Arrondissement  75019 Paris

Second image from Sprawling Places


Please Don’t Tell

10 Aug

YOU try not telling.  I’m no Peter Pettigrew, but it’s hard not to get a little razzle-dazzled by a suave secret bar hidden in a hot dog joint.

How do you get in?  Try Crif Dogs at St Mark’s. Try the vintage phone booth in the corner.  Try dialing a number on the old-school phone and try NOT squealing when what you thought was the wall swings open to reveal a low-lit bar full of cocktail-swillers.

Speakeasy gimmicks aside, Please Don’t Tell is a sexy place. The cocktails, while steep, are a delicious take on Prohibition classics (Old Fashioned made from bacon-flavoured bourbon, anyone?) and they look pretty-as-hell. And the menu features Crif Dog’s deep fried and sour cream-schmeared classics, as well as a tasty miniburger and the momofuku tribute Chang Dog. Extra kimchee please!

Who comes here? Not the hipsters, thank God, ’cause this place is old news.  Duh. But if you want to impress the out-of-towners, or, um, yourself, then get your ass here because unless you’re stupid, you know that drinking cocktails and eating hotdogs is a Good Thing.

Image courtesy of Please Don’t Tell.

Nita Nita

6 Jun

Phew. For Nita Nita I can be totally well brought-up and only say nice things.

Anyone who brings me a warm bowl of smashed sweet potato with tiny chunks of hot chorizo stirred through it gooely is going to be my friend.  But someone bringing that to me while I’m sipping a g&t in a big courtyard – that feels more garden than court – with loops of fairy lights blinking quietly in the trees could well be my soulmate.  Well, maybe.

Perhaps we should introduce ourselves.

I’m Caroline.  And Nita Nita is smack bang on the corner of Wythe and North 8th in Williamsburg.  Somehow it feels properly hidden – maybe because the streetfront looks like the entrance to a seedy, don’t-tell-your-dad-you-were-here type bistro.  Inside everything’s neat and tidy in that endearingly shabby way. (Like the pair of runners you’ve had since high school, but a touch more aromatic.)

So skip the polished wooden tables tucked under the back window and sneak your way outside.  Grab that table where the people are drinking ice and looking packy-uppy.  Probably order that Southampton IPA because it sounds fancy and is only five bucks.  Try to eavesdrop on those French chicks.  See how there’s a baby here, but only ONE baby?  That’s a good sign: only hip mommas drink here.

But stop, more about the food.  Like the perfectly rare slices of spiced Asian beef – so juicy and garnished with just enough pickled chilli to make you want to suck all the flavour inside out.  Or the hefty cheese boards with hunks of creamy, oozey, stinkily perfect camembert.

Yeah it’s a tapas bar but they make the rules: and so mac cheese gets a look-in.  It’s smooshed into a cutesy individual terracotta bowl though and actually smells like quite delicious food.

I heard a rumour that they do a killer hangover breakfast as well.  Just in case you need an excuse for another drink tonight – and fancy meeting your potential soul mate in the morning.

Just saying.

Nita Nita, 146 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn 11211. (388-5328)

Image courtesy of Eater.

Berry Park

4 Jun

I met heaps of strangers yesterday.  The first one was a pleasingly red-bearded French guy who told me about his complicated money-lending start-up and asked me lots of polite questions.  Another one was a boy called Shane with ripped jeans.  A girl I didn’t know told me I had nice sunglasses.  Those are some of the reasons I like Berry Park.

Other reasons: they play Beatles without it being ironic.  The grilled chicken sandwiches take no time at all to come out and are so juicy and mustardy you feel all kissy afterwards.  It’s crowded on the hot days and takes ages to get a beer, but when you finally get one it’s enormous and cold and good.  And probably Belgian.

There’s a whole warehouse full of awesome here, but you’d probably only go to Berry Park for the deck.  All long wooden benches and white umbrellas, you feel rather fancy looking at the Manhattan skyline at dusk.  And then you feel smug because you’re doing it on the cheap, in sandals and with mustard on your face.

One thing you should know is this: it’s beery.  This is what they have on the bar menu: beer ($6) beer ($8) beer ($10) beer ($5).  If you want a gin and tonic go downstairs.  (And take the stairs slowly because your eyes take a second to adjust to the dark inside and you’ll probably trip.)

Options like the lobster and shrimp roll, pulled berkshire pork sandwich, and venison, merlot and blueberry sausages mean it’s probably the ultimate boozey lunch destination. They also have punk rock DJs on Thursdays. Get ready to make friends.

Images courtesy of L Magazine and Berry Park.

Nurse Bettie

26 May
If I owned an actual fur coat and had been able to squeeze it in my suitcase, I definitely could have worn it last night to Nurse Bettie.  Less so to Backroom, the opulent speakeasy where we were headed, and where fur-clad girls’ birthdays are ruined on a regular basis, apparently.

Just as we were high fiving after NOT being foiled by the red herring signage (Lower East Side Toy Co – chuh) and NOT being stabbed by a junky in the pitch black alley, some not-so-well-heeled Manhattenites careened down the steps behind us, rattled a door and announced drunkenly that Backroom was closed.

And so we were welcomed into the buxom breast of Backroom’s smuttier next door neighbour, Nurse Bettie. NB is quite the classy dive – all exposed brick, low lighting and top shelf offerings.  An extended happy hour including cheap but oh-so-classy cocktails ensure that clientele is a mix of tipsy ladies with smudged red lipstick and gentlemen dapper in their (second-hand) suits.  And of course us, and a dishevelled German tourist who stumbled in later: the waylaid Backroom-seekers.

Pin-up bars are few and far between, and the novelty of peeing under the watch of a host of smouldering Bettie Paige angels warrants a visit to the bathroom at least.  Anywhere you can sprawl on leather couches and drink a G&T for $5 without having to watch a football match is worth a visit in my book – and at $14 a creamy Night Nurse cocktail is hardly a splurge.  Best of all, Bettie has a healthy weeknight dance floor culture that flourishes under the watch of a bevy of handsome bartenders.

It’s the suavest cheap drinking in the Lower East Side.  Or so say the people who haven’t made it next door…

Nurse Bettie
106 Norfolk Street
Lower East Side, NY

Image: Club Planet, Tom Sibley Photography

Izakaya Den

13 Apr

After traipsing up and down the same stretch of Russell Street for half an hour, I would’ve settled for my own arm (wrapped in nori with a dash of Wednesday-night perspiration.)

Handbag devoid of chopsticks, I called this little Japanese mystery for directions.  The red-sneakered waitress who answered was suitably coy.

“It’s kind of hard to explain where we are,” she mused.  “It’s near an apartment block.  There’s a red wall.”  And she promptly hung up.

Armed with these cryptic instructions we ventured down endless steps and swept a great black curtain aside, scuttled through a tunnel stacked to the ceiling with crates of Asahi, and finally rounded on a swarm of black-clad Melburnians swilling sake cocktails.

This is probably as close as Melbourne’s beautiful people come to eating sushi in the subway.  The restaurant’s exposed beams and bare concrete are softened by dim lighting and, more importantly, a killer drinks list.

It wouldn’t be an award-winning new restaurant without a preppy share plate menu – though I for one was sharing with more than a little reluctance. Izakaya’s kingfish sashimi practically quivers in the mouth and the smoky steamed pork belly is worthy of its own haiku.

We didn’t stay for sweet things, rather closed the night with a heady nightcap(s) mixed up by a very patient bartender round the corner.

If you can decipher the treasure map, get your trendy ass to Izakaya immediately.  Probably beats arm sushi.

Image: Josh Sim

Naked For Satan

11 Apr
If there’s one thing my mother taught me, it’s that you shouldn’t get naked for just anyone.*

Unfortunately she didn’t teach me how to pronounce the word PINTXOS.  It didn’t really matter at Naked for Satan last night because they don’t ask you how to say it, they just ask you to use the tongs when you pick them, please.

So you roll into the old Moran & Cato building on Brunswick Street, admire the red vintage posters, old copper boilers and water tanks (which the Naked crew would have you believe are vodka stills), order a boutique beer or fancy infused vodka and then pile up the plate with these pintxos things.

Pintxos are pretty much thick slices of baguette piled with tasty treats like cured meats, blue cheese and salmon, sour cream and crumbed eggplant, carrot dip and marinated field mushrooms, or – my favourite – a cold, eggy chunk of tortilla.  These are jabbed on with toothpicks which the good-looking waiter will count out at the end to calculate your bill.

At $2 per pinch (and 50 cents at lunch time) it’s scarily cheap.  But instead of feeling stingy you manage to feel quite suave. Must be all that polished oak.  And vodka.

*This isn’t even a little bit true.

Image: The Age 

Ponyfish Island

1 Apr

It’s a perilous road, filled with skunky pickles, rogue basil leaves and people pushing their own dietry agenda. But the quest for the perfect grilled cheese sandwich is a hallowed one, and new slashy playground Ponyfish Island wants in.

Ponyfish (Goatyfrog? Poodletoad? Why?) is a bar /pirate ship /cafe /restaurant co-captained by Jerome Borazio (of Laneway fame), dancing bear Grant Smillie (who wrote that song) and Andrew McKinnon (who has a marketing company we can’t talk about.)

Much like the humble cupcake, secret pop-up bars hidden down grafitti-splattered alleyways are now considered to be frightfully passé. So they’ve put the ‘island’ just under the Southgate pedestrian bridge where you can admire sweaty kayakers paddling along the sparkling sewage river. To be honest it feels a bit like one of them went to a bar by the harbour in another city and thought, ‘Actually, sitting by the water is kinda rahd. Maybe we should try this at home?’

But back to the quest. PfI masquerades as a restaurant with the help of a notably diverse toastie menu. All the classics are there (H&C, C&T, HC&T) and even though hot spinach burns like hell it was good to see a vegetarian-friendly toastie on the board. They have it tough sometimes.

Not sure why pirates need pots of tiny succulents next to their ash trays, though I can understand the swathes of hessian and suspended swinging tables. As at most Melbourne drinking hotspots, if you take off your clothes at the bow of the ship and pose in the manner of a figurehead, you’ll get a free drink. Or so I’m told.

No KMCG’s here. On the contrary, these sanwiches all go down exceptionally well with a cocktail in a jam jar. You know how it’s trendy to drink out of a used condiment container? Oh Malbourne.

Photo from Get Notorious.

Ponyfish Island, Yarra Pedestrian Footbridge.

Image from Get Notorious.