Friday, August 17, 2007

The Old Town Bar--1 on the Town for Less Than a Gen'l Jackson

Most of my friends have moved away, like the Johnny Cash song, to everywhere man, like Chicago, Long Island, upstate New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, and so on. The ones who commute to Manhattan are always looking at the watch for the last train to Podunk. So it was that I found myself alone at 6:30 p.m. at the end of the bar at the Old Town on E. 18th St.

There's a gap where the wooden bar to your left ends and a marble bar begins. The waitress moves through it. I sat at the far end of the marble bar, not quite at the corner and not on a barstool but on the edge of a small table, sharing the surface with a large plastic container that slowly filled up with dirty dishes. When the real barstool to my left emptied, I moved over. This was my first promotion in a long time.

The Brooklyn lager was so good I had another. I asked for the menu, even though I already knew what I was going to order. I enjoy eating at the bar, not that I could get a table (it was a crowded Thursday evening). The chili came hot and was good too. I asked the bartender, "Do you have any pie?" "None that I can recommend," he said. I don't if that was funny but hearing it said with an Irish accent made me chuckle.

"We have apple crumb," said the bartender. I then asked for coffee and felt a little guilty because this looked like the first coffee made all day (maybe all month). I thought he 's thinking, I make more on liquor than I do on coffee. I forced the coffee down with the apple crumb.

I sat in front of the very active dumbwaiter, which connects with the second floor kitchen. I thought of my old Irish father, who would have been 100 in 2010. He lived in an old building and claimed to have ridden a dumbwaiter for fun when he was a kid. The flopping around of the Old Town's dumbwaiter cables was hypnotic, almost dizzying. Could have been the beer, the chili, and the coffee. Or the apple crumb. Did I mention the whipped cream on the side? Nice touch.

This is as good of a time as you can have by yourself for less than $20.

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