The Sole Proprietor – #124 on the Tour

The Bar: The Sole Proprietor

The Address 118 Highland Street

The Day and the Time Wednesday 8:55

The price five fifty (which was amazing to me)

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime He just put it in

What was the type of gin Well but decent well. Their well is made from fine stock I suppose.

What was the gin and tonic like A good drink, one where I could sense the tonic, which is usually the forgotten element of a good gin and tonic. It can be flat or too little or just a lousy type, but this one was noticeable and did well with the gin.

The Joint It is a handsome, well appointed seafood restaurant with a good sized bar. The bar was not big enough because at nine on a Wednesday, Bartender Brian and I could not get a seat. It was packed. The bartenders were fast and serious. This was one of those “no smiling” joints, not because the staff don’t have a song in their heart, but that they are too damned busy and professional.

Brian mentioned that someone at the bar was listening in on our conversation and so I quickly added more vulgarity to my conversation and changed the topic to gun running and other delightful pastimes. Brian just rolled his eyes and drank his beer. There is nothing wrong with eavesdropping at a bar, I mean, that is where half of the topics of this blog came from, from good old fashioned listening in.

The hostess was working damned hard, she set up a table and cleaned it for a party waiting for a seat, but not fast enough. When she returned to seat the party, they said they waited long enough and left the restaurant.

General Impressions: This is a high end joint and the people at the bar were eating and drinking fine cocktails and were enjoying themselves in the way you can in an expensive crowded eatery. Brian and I gossiped about friends and people he works with at the old saloon. One of the conversations we had is worth mentioning. I went on my rant wanting more bars with no televisions and Brian shook his head in an authorative fashion and said, “Bartending, I love televisions, and I love cell phones. Cell phones have been the best thing for me.” I stared agape at him and he continued, “It keeps them there. Before cell phones, people would have a beer and get bored or lonely and then go home or move on. Now with cell phones, they are attached to whomever or whatever. A cell phone is good for another two or three drinks. People linger with a good game on the tv and they really linger with Words with Friends or Facebook update. It might make people more anti-social, but they are more anti-social in public with drinks in front of them.”

I understood what he was saying, but for all of that, I was enjoying talking to a friend in a bar more than anything the tv or social media can give me. This is a good place for that. Its a nice backdrop and facade for conversation. Also, if you are by yourself and want a good meal, I think this would be a good place to sit at the bar with a book or a smartphone and just be.

Amount of Time in the Joint 30 minutes

Will I come back I can see it. I have eaten here a while back and it was terrific. The bar feels like a bar, though crowded in the middle of the week, crazy, but its a nice place to settle. Brian and I went to one more bar that evening, keep your eyes on this blog!!!

The Boynton Restaurant and Spirits – #123 on the Tour

The Bar: The Boynton

The Address 117 Highland Street

The Day and the Time Wednesday 8:20

The price 6.50

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime She just put it in

What was the type of gin What house gin they had, Bartender Brian (who was with me) tried to figure out which cheap brand it was. He couldn’t see that far but whatever it was, it was not a good one.

What was the gin and tonic like It was sweet and syrupy. Not a good drink but it was alright for it what it was.

The Joint This is such a popular place. It is usually filled with college students but at this time there was WPI students and people who were older. Who were these people? What were they doing here? All these important questions, none to be answered.

It was crowded at the bar, I couldn’t get a seat and most of the tables were filled. ITs a big place and that’s saying a lot that it was rocking on a Wednesday. With all that said, it took me 7 minutes standing at the bar looking like the guy at the train station 45 minutes after the last departure left. When Bartender Brian showed, she noticed us and gave us drinks. Bartender Brian was unimpressed with her as a fellow tender of bar. “You and I are only getting a drink, we are the type of customer you don’t want sitting at your busy bar. She should have given us menus right away and seen what we want to order. That’s where the money is.” Single drink visitors just fill up the valuable real estate. Look at me, I’m the alcohol equivalent of a squatter. She also had some difficulty finding the gin. She looked new. Brian pointed out an older bartender and complimented how that guy was moving and and serving and aware of what was going on.

The place is loud and big and for whatever reason I have never liked it. Maybe its all the loud conversation about school and thesis presentations, maybe its because the food used to be good but now the portions are smaller and the choices are dicier to navigate. I don’t know, but its not my place.

Actually, I do recall one time my wife and went there on a Sunday at noon for lunch and we asked for a seat and they said they could sit us but we might need to wait for a waitress. We waited for 15 minutes in a table by the bar. At the bar was a guy already drunk swearing so much i felt we were in a Mamet play. We waited for another five minutes and then just left with out being served. Maybe that’s the thing that made me not like it.

General Impressions: I was talking to my friend Epicurean Eric about how i never liked the Boynton and he seemed abashed about it. “IF you never liked it Dante, why didn’t you say something about it all the times I had you meet me there?” That was a good question, and I said, “Well I don’t hate it, and if you like it that well to suggest it of course I will come. I was coming for the company, not the food or service.” And that’s the way I feel. People like the place. Eric likes their french fries.  It is busy and crowded and people have a great time. On the tour, Bartender Brian (who also doesn’t like it) and myself just stood there looking grumpy at the place. This is the thing about bars, one thing can make you love or loath a place. It might be a small thing that is no longer remembered, but you harbor that emotion, that feeling everytime you go there. You might like a joint and defend it even after it has gone downhill, or still despise a place that is really quite nice and the beer selection has improved.

For me, it might be the loud maw of a crowd that is constantly at the Boynton pressing down at all times. I like to sit and talk and drink at a place. I don’t want an empty bar, but I want one where I will be seen and served and seated and other things starting with the letter s.

Amount of Time in the Joint 25 minutes.

Will I come back Given my druthers, I would say no. But I know friends will pick this as the lowest common denominator joint (people really like it here) and I will smile and attend. So let’s call it a Yes Under Protest. This was fun going out on the tour with Brian and we hit two more bars that evening, so stayed tuned.

Wither Leitrim’s (a strange case study in inaccessibility)

1. Leitrim’s is a college bar on Park Avenue, and one of the few remaining bars in town I have to go to for this tour of bars and gin and tonics.

2. I was there once about 15 years ago. It was Assumption College heavy and dark and old and sweaty. There was no place to sit. I never felt the need to return. But let’s be honest, once we find the bar we call our own, we don’t tend to return to other bars, it smacks of infidelity.

3. In August of last year, they put up a banner on the outside of the bar saying “Welcome Back Students.” This is a fine thing to have up in August. The sign was still up in October. It was there in February. It was there in May. Ah hell, let’s be fair, its there right now. In a couple months, that sign will be spot on correct. It’s like what they say about broken clocks giving the correct time twice a day.

4. They opened up a thing on the side called the Back Door Pub. I have seen that door open every now and again. The front might be closed but this could be open and ready to serve the thirsty masses.

5. Two Thursdays ago, I had some time and went to have a gin and tonic there, for the tour, at 7:30, it wasn’t open. I thought that odd. I went to my regular bar afterwards and was practically scolded by Bartender Bart. He said its a college bar and they know what hours work for them. They know they can’t be open too early. They are just working the correct times for their clientele.Well and truly chastened, I dropped the subject.

6. On June 17th, this was written on the Leitrim’s facebook account, “Leitrim’s is open now, and will continue to be open for many more years. We have heard some rumors about us being closed. LET’S PUT THE RUMORS TO REST. WE ARE OPEN for the summer, and will be open for fall.”

7. It is today, June 26th, and I went to check them out at 9:30. That seemed like an okay time to go and check out a bar, a tad early, but still, its 9:30. I walked to them and the front door had their lights on and the open sign blaring red neon, but the door was locked. I went over to the Back Door Pub entrance and the door was open. I peered in and there was no one in there, save a bartender wiping down the bar.

8. I didn’t go in. I didn’t want an empty bar. I have had too many of them on this tour, most of them my fault. But this was Friday at 9:30. So I walked around the neighborhood and spied the other bars and restaurants, seeing most of them busy. Some how, the spirit of this blog took me up, and I realized I should just say the hell with it and go and get my cocktail at Leitrim’s. I went back and at 9:40 I pulled at the door of the Back Door Pub entrance and it was now locked. I went to the front and that was still locked. I said the hell with it and headed off.

9. As Leitrim’s said so eloquently on their Facebook Let’s put the rumors to rest. Let’s do that. Let’s speak only truth. At 9:40 on  Friday June 26th 2015, the lights said they were open, but all the doors were locked. They did not want my custom. If they did, they would have been open.

10. When I started writing this post, 20 minutes ago, I still didn’t know if I was going to go back and try to get a drink from them for this tour of every bar in Worcester. After writing this 700 word post, I realized, the hell with them. I ain’t going to try. They are off the list. They don’t want to be unlocked and ready on a Friday then they don’t want people to come and drink.

Yours,

Dante of Worcester

Piccolo’s – #122 on the Tour

The Bar: Piccolo

The Address 157 Shrewsbury Street

The Day and the Time Wednesday at 8:30, I think. I didn’t have a watch.

The price Seven dollars. It’s a Shrewsbury Street Bargain!

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime No. She intuited the need for such a thing. As a matter of fact, she took another lime and squeezed the juice into it.

What was the type of gin I was given a choice between Tanqueray or Bombay Saphire. I chose the Tanqueray

What was the gin and tonic like It was good. I liked it. But its the axiom of this tour: you like the bar, the drink tastes great. So there.

The Joint I decided to pop in when I saw a large rowdy group of young people drinking and kibitzing in the outside tables. They seemed to be having a great time, so I figured I should check out the small bar inside. I was going to not go to this place for the tour, because I didn’t think it would show me anything other than another bar at another restaurant.

Their were 7 people at the bar eating and drinking. Everyone seemed to be a regular. Two bartenders were friendly and made it comfortable. The decor was Italian Restaurant, by way of an old bank that it used to be and aspects of that are incorporated, but then it turned a corner and it was it wound up in oddville. They had above the bar, framed photographic portraits of the cast of the 1970s feel-good flick One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. That’s right, photo portraits of Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd. Pictures of Actors playing Crazy People. What the hell is this about? I don’t know, but its this kind of odd idiosyncratic tic that makes a joint its own thing. Come for the friendly service, stay for the glowering visage of Jack Nicholson leering down at you.

General Impressions I was talking to my friend Epicurean Eric about my problem with the tour at this point. I have about 20 or so places on the tour and I want to be done, but every time I finish a bar on the list, I discover another bar I never knew existed so I put that on the list. Eric thought I was crazy and said I should close the list and just not put anything else on it. I agree with him but then I wouldn’t have gone to Piccolo and I would have missed one of the more pleasant bar visits I have had in a while. There wasn’t anything particular that makes me say this. It just was that if felt like a great neighborhood bar, and it is a excellent restaurant. It has regulars and a wide range of ages coming to drink and eat. They were friendly and professional. I have heard the food is great and the bar was good. The bar is small, but in this case, it made it more intimate.

Amount of Time in the Joint 25 minutes (long for me, but what can I say. I lingered)

Will I come back Yeah. It was a nice time.

111 Chop House – #121 on the Tour

The Bar: 111 Chophouse

The Address 111 Shrewsbury Street

The Day and the Time Wednesday at 8:15

The price 7.50

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime He put in and it was nice glass.

What was the type of gin I don’t know what it was but it was decent one.

What was the gin and tonic like A well poured drink. I enjoyed sipping at it. It had flavor and it worked for me.

The Joint If you imagine a a high end steak house, this would be that thing in your head. Dark wood, large ceilings, Early 20th Century French Posters, photos of jazz musicians on the wall. The people working were in white shirts and wearing the garb of the traditional American steak house. The place was busy for Wednesday. A lot of the people had convention Expo badges still on. This is an expense account joint, and don’t you forget it. The bar was large. Three quarters of a square. Two bartenders were working. One bartender was really on it and was very good, the other one…..

General Impressions: ….the other bartender had a Cat who Swallowed the Canary smile. Someone at the bar knew him and asked him about the bartenders personal life. The bartender cracked jokes and talked to his acquaintance. And talked. And talked. The other bartender, who was very tall, started giving the other one, the talking shorter one, looks. After five minutes the tall bartender put his hand on the short bartender’s shoulder. The shorter bartender kept on talking and joking, not working, while the tall one was bustling to all parts of the bar. Finally the tall bartender flicked a bottle cap at the other one. The other felt it, look down, said good bye to his friend and then went back to pouring drinks. (I must say I was surprised to see anything other than professionalism and precision at this place. I aint talking about the bottle cap flick, but how the shorter one ignored everyone to jaw with a buddy. That’s a thing to see on a second rung sports bar.)

With that aside, the place was fancy and surprisingly, not forbidding. I felt smarter and cooler just hanging out there having my drink.

Amount of Time in the Joint 20 minutes

Will I come back You know, maybe. I can see situations where I want to sit down in a comfortable place for a drink and a conversation. This could work. I am not a steak house guy, so I don’t think the restaurant will be my place. But I liked this old school Chicago Steak House ambiance. They created it to be enticing and I am that sucker who it works on.

Kai – #120 on the Tour

The Bar: Kai Sushi Bar and Grill

The Address 68 Stafford Street

The Day and the Time Thursday at 1pm

The price 6.95

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime She did

What was the type of gin Tanqueray

What was the gin and tonic like It was alright. Light and good. Not a bad a drink.

The Joint This is a strip mall sushi joint. The outside looks uninteresting. The interior is small, clean and has a nice look. There were only a few people in at that time. Three people at the bar, eating and drinking, and four women at a table talking as loud as if they were a convention. THe bartender was attentive and good. Solid with all that.

General Impressions: I had a day of no work and decided to go to a Lunch place. I heard an interview on NPR with Adam Gopnick (New Yorker writer) about how the Lunch as an entity is gone. That old line “Let’s do lunch.” is never heard anymore. That there was an industry supporting business lunches. Those high end New York lunch places are all closing or are gone. He said that the problem is that businesses like their workers to eat in the building or at their desk, so Lunch as a thing is no more. It was interesting but I felt that it might have to do with just New York lunch scene. SO I was interested to see if I could find a place that had businesses lunches going on. No luck. 111 Chop House doesn’t have lunch. And Ceres was empty so I didn’t want to try it (actually, this is the fourth time I have looked into Ceres and found it empty, what’s the deal with that joint?). On other parts of the tour, I have seen business lunches occurring like at Mezcal, but for the most part, people are getting a sandwich and moving on.

I was about to call the tour off for the day and try another time when I drove by Webster Square and noticed this place for the first time. I was annoyed because with me finding new places to go to, I will never be done with this tour, but happy that I can try someplace. I went in and it was drowsy but nice. The only business conversation I heard was two young women at the bar complaining about their lousy second shift jobs. One was trying to get the other drunk, to cheer her up. That’s nice and neighborly. I don’t know why she could be upset. She had  a nice dish of sushi and a large glass holding mixed drink goodness.

I had a drink. In a quiet place that seemed alright. So there.

Amount of Time in the Joint 10 minutes

Will I come back Lots of sushi bars to chose from in town, this one looked alright, but I don’t think I need to make a plan to go.

Mahoney’s – #119 on the Tour

The Bar: Mahoney’s

The Address 413 Park Avenue

The Day and the Time Wednesday at 8:50

The price 5

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime She asked and I got.

What was the type of gin Well

What was the gin and tonic like Flavorless, nothing special. IT was a five dollar neighborhood bar special.

The Joint Someone who reads this blog praised Mahoney’s in a comment. I love people having favorites and sharing them. It is a good sports?Irish bar with space for an elevated area for darts and table in the middle of the room and a clean demeanor. It has sports playing and keno going and really really really loud metal playing (damn I am getting old and persnickety) There were 25 or so people and it was not packed at all. The ages ranged from young to middle age and that’s nice. The staff were young. A good amount of staff on a Wednesday, about four people working. A lot of folk were out smoking. There was the Wednesday Dart League going and people were alternating between golf course quiet to rowdy shouting/

General Impressions This is a bah. The bartender was a young woman in a low cut t-shirt. It felt like this was the uniform for the female staff.  She was efficient, giving out drinks. While I was there for a few minutes, a lull occurred in the drinks demand and she leaned back and stood impassive, blank. She picked at a cuticle, she stood like a blackboard wiped of information. This statue pose and neutral expression went on for two or three minutes and then three guys came in. She saw them and like a switch put on the smile and an eye twinkle, rolled her shoulders back and went back to work in being the happy attractive bartender making me think of the line by T.S. Elliot, “There will be time, there will be time/To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.” That’s right, here at Mahoney’s in Worcester, we have the Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock with Cleavage.

A bah is a good thing. It was a social place and the drinks were not too pricey. It was a drinkers place, you could tell by the little plastic cups they filled with shots. I am sure there has been someone shouting Wooooooo here recently. Energetic and mostly young, this could be a place people might want to try.

I would have left this stop on the tour happier and more content if not for something right at the end. The dart match was won by the Mahoney’s team. They shouted and applauded and the losing team left to go outside. As they left, one of the Mahoney’s people (a guy drinking with the staff so he might be a friend or an employee I don’t know) looked at the retreating losing team and shouted at them “Pussies!” Yeah. Lovely. That just took a nice enjoyable bar moment and made it unpleasant. Making me think of a few more lines from Elliot. “We have lingered in the chambers of the sea/ With seagirls wreathed with seaweed red and brown/Till human voices wake us and we drown.” Yes, this is the crap floating through my head while I do this tour.

Amount of Time in the Joint 15 minutes

Will I come back I liked it, it was very bar. But the attitude I saw at the end, the neighborhood bar not my own feel makes me say that I will pass on this one. You might want to try it, but I am good with going this one time.