Wicked Wing Co. -#2 on the Return Tour

The chalk board in the front of the place thanks their customers in voting them the best new restaurant in Worcester.

It is Friday at eight and it is mostly full. I get the last seat at the bar.

It is quiet for such a full place. The Sox game is on, but no music is playing. People are speaking in muted tones, as if this was a church with Jalapeno Buffalo sauce.

The gin and tonic is five dollars and thirty five cents and it tastes of syrup. It is alright. Alright, like getting out of the Registry of Motor Vehicles office in under and hour. That kind of alright.

Large platters of wings dressed in different colored sauces are paraded out to the tables.

I am trying to wonder why I feel so unengaged. It is Friday. There are wings. There is beer. Where is the joy? I check the menu, both side. No joy.

I get it.

The bartenders, two women moving and shaking and stirring, do not smile. They have stony faces. They are concentrating for the exam. They are waiting in line at the Registry. They are anywhere but at a fun place to be.

I look and the other staff also have that same serious face. Buffalo wings is serious business.

I realize that at any bar, I want the bartender to be happy to be here. I don’t need a flirty bartender, or my next best friend bartender. Just some one who seems pleased that they are here surrounded by alcohol and people. And pleased that I am one of them.

As I leave, I see one of the bartenders smile for a regular. It’s nice that she can. Maybe I need to be here for four weeks in a row before I earn a smirk. Things to aspire to.

I am sure the wings are good. Why wouldn’t they be?

The Wicked Wing Co is located at 321 West Boylston Street.

I

The Hangover Pub – Return Tour #1

The bar is the Hangover Pub on Green Street. It used to be the bar for the Banner, and then it was the Bar with the worst name ever Primo’s Extention. It is now a fancy kool kat joint. A friend said of it, “It’s a hipster bar two years too late.”

Let’s get the gin and tonic out of the way before I get all mean spirited. The drink came in a nice tapered high ball glass, the gin was Damrak. She put the lime in without me asking. It was a fine drink. Sweet and balanced. The damage was seven dollars and forty five cents. The forty five cents is to piss me off. I know I know I know, it’s for the tax. But I can’t explain it but I would have been happier if the drink was seven fifty. Round up or round down, but hide the damned tax please. (wow, six months since I was doing the tour and still this bothers me)

Let’s talk about the positive. I went at eight thirty on Tuesday and there were people there. About twenty or so. Some eating. Some failing badly at dates. Most were drinking strangely hued drinks. The place was clean and well set up. Nice designs. Decent selection of bottles.

Let’s talk some shit about the place. If we must. For those who read the blog, you know that I don’t like TVs in the bar. I want to be in a bar, and not focus on the game or the game show. My bartender friends think I am an idiot about that. TV keeps people at the bar. And that means they drink more. Bartenders like that dividend.

Let’s talk about it’s name. Do we really want a bar called Hangover? It’s a stte of pain and discomfort, right? Shouldn’t we just have the Cirrhosis Saloon?

The thing about the Hangover Pub is that they have TVs, but they don’t. They have two flat screen TVs installed over the bar, but they don’t have programming. They were showing a slideshow of photos. Photos of the bar the Hangover Pub. There was some Worcester color photos, but mostly it was shots of the food being made in the kitchen and shots of the bar. The bar that I am in.

Why do I need photos of a place I am currently in. Hey, look, that’s the bar stool I’m sitting in! It’s like I’m famous or something. My bar stool is on TV! It’s like being forced to look at vacation photos from someone with acute agoraphobia. “That’s when I made it to the living room. That’s when I was able to run into the kitchen for a few minutes, it was tough, but man it was fun. Another shot of my armchair. Doesn’t it look pretty in the late day sun?”

Usually I might write about all the things I noticed, but I was transfixed by the slideshow. My favorite shot was when it showed a black and white vintage photo of what I believe was the old Worcester Mental Hospital, and that was followed by a beauty shot of a shrimp appetizer. “I’ll have that and a lobotomy please.”

Let’s talk about how I feel about the place. Bars that try to catch a set vibe might work for a while, but it deprives it from creating its own unique vibe. It’s a look how hip I am kind of place. It wasn’t bad. And if I was trying to impress the stray lumbersexual, I would go there.

The Hangover Pub is at 102 Green Street

 

 

 

Sorry, Life Interrupted

Got a comment from bob asking why I haven’t started the new mini tour. I have, but life got in the way, and I haven’t written them up. I will get the first three going in the next week. Hope you are well and drinking things other than well.

Dante

What a difference six months make

Hello friends. I must say I have missed this blog. I had occassion to drive around Worcester the other day and saw places that are no longer and places that are new or are arriving and thought I might return briefly for a few Gin and Tonics.

The Losses: Viva Bene closed, which is fine by me. So did Me Reyna which made me sad because it was awesome. Scorz and Varsity are gone, which is also alright with me. Primo’s Extension is also gone, the greatest bad name for a bar ever, I will mourn its absence. Ritual is also gone

The New Places: We have Whisky, Whisky on Water, Dead Horse Hill, The Hangover Bar, Quinn’s, the Oak Barrell, Lock 50, and maybe some others that are here are finishing up.

So what say you. want to hear how the new places do with Gin and Tonics? This would be just a quick return, more for my curiosity than for anything else.

The Tour’s Hangover

Well here I am a week after the end of this silly project and I feel like something is missing. I am still looking for new or unseen places while I drive through Worcester, but then realize, I am done, I don’t have to do that anymore. But let’s praise this tour, I am very aware of the landscape of the city, seeing businesses closed and opening, seeing people walk into bars or amble past, holding bags of groceries, focusing on their phones and not noticing the nice bar before them.

The other day was my birthday and my wife gave me tonic water and a bottle of Hendrick’s Gin. She didn’t know if I would want it what with me swearing off gin and tonics after this tour. But why not, a good gin is a nice thing. While we watched a very cool monster movie on TV (Harbinger Down) I sipped at the drink I made. This gin and tonic did not taste a lot like the things I was given on the tour. The drink lasted me the length of the movie, it was a pleasure not to rush.

And now, as promised, a little wrap up. This tour was never about the best and the worst, the nicest and the dirtiest. This was about the process of being complete and thorough. But with that said, let’s do a little talking of the good and the not so good.

The best bars I went to: Nick’s and Vincent’s (of course, because those were the bars I call my bars so how can they not be on the list). Breen’s was great. Also, though I didn’t say it in my write up, I really loved my time at Guertin’s and want to go back. And I loved George’s, the bar attached to Coney Island Hot Dog.

Fun Neighborhood Joints: Marty’s, Gallagher’s, Blarney Stone

Decent places for a cheap drink: I think I have to pick to Herbies, but parking is a bitch there and it can get crowded. Also, at Sole Proprietor, a very nice place indeed, the drink was only 5.50, which given the environs was a great deal.

Biggest Surprises: I was impressed with the drink at Basil n Spice because I thought it was going to be just another Asian Bar-Restaurant. In the same regard, I thought the bar at Piccolo’s was awesome and inviting. It was more than an Italian joint with a bar.

Best Sports Bar: This is tough because even dance clubs call themselves sports bars. I am going for two places where when I was there, the people were sports crazed. That is Parkway and Bennie’s.

Best Dives: I did a big write up on this back in December, but I still think the best dives are Guertin’s and Moynihan’s. I am going to not put Hotel Vernon on the list because the last time I was there felt like young hipsters hanging out on a dare.

Scariest Joints: These are not the worst, just the places you might not want to go alone if you want to go at all: Fat Tony’s, Brook’s, Pleasant Cafe

Worst Joint: This is without question Foodwork’s Chinese Restaurant. It was one of the last ones I went to for the tour and just an unpleasant experience. An honorable mention is the Perfect Game, and I know its well regarded and people like it but the time I was there, the regulars and the bartender for a little bit, ridiculed this old guy who was either drunk beyond remembering his name or suffering through dementia, either way, it makes me never want to go back there.(if you want to read that sad story, google perfect game gin and tonics worcester and you should get it.)

Dirtiest Bar: I know I am just being mean, but this one goes to Chioda’s, I don’t think they ever wiped down their bar this century.

The Best Gin and Tonics: The Fix, hands down. Really good (though it had a mediocre bar feel to the place) Basil n Spice, Vincent’s, Breen’s. There were a lot of decent ones, but remember I always went for the basic or well option.

Lousiest Gin and Tonics: Maxwell Silverman’s (I almost spit it out it was so harsh), Dive Bar (At the end of the drink it stopped tasting of gin and then had a very clear anise flavor, the hell is that about, like they put the wrong alcohol in or something)  Fat Tony’s (like syrup), Scorz, and Jillian’s (It wasn’t the gin and tonic per se, I think, it was the fact that she put so much ice in the glass that the ice formed a dome over the pint glass that I didn’t have much drink to judge, and that glass of ice was six bucks.) I guess I should also put in Anoyke Krom. I really liked my time there and it was an awesome vibe, but instead of a gin and tonic, I got a gin and coca-cola. That was some tough drinking.

Most Expensive Gin and Tonic: That was at Azteca’s at 10 bucks. Its a dance club at that time of night, and it seems that the drink prices are in replacement for a cover charge.

Cheapest Gin and Tonic: That was at Herbie’s at 2.50.

I am sure I am missing come categories and things people might want to know, but as I said, this was never about the best and the worst, this was about seeing a city through 144 cocktails.

Dante

That image on top comes from one of my favorite Worcester oriented blogs http://streetartofworcester.blogspot.com/

Nick’s – #144 on the Tour. The Final Bar for the Tour!

The Bar: Nick’s

The Address 124 Millbury Street

The Day and the Time Sunday at 7

The price 8

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime He did, that Bartender Brian, he is such a joker

What was the type of gin I don’t know. I don’t care. Its gin and its tonic. Its a flavor sensation

What was the gin and tonic like It was great. It was the best gin and tonic in the world because its the last one of 144 on the tour I just took around Worcester and to have it end in the bar I love best, the bar I call mine, it could not be any sweeter.

It’s funny. So many times on this tour, I would come here and complain or at least kvetch about the bars I had just been to, so throughout this whole process, Nick’s has been the olly olly oxen free homebase. I never had a gin and tonic when visiting however. Just beer and whisky, like any true drinker should. I left the gin and tonics for the tour (kept it at the office if you will.). You find a place where they accept you and the stool feels good underneath you and the jukebox is good and you even like it when its absolutely silent, you have to respect that. Nick’s is unique because of TCM playing old movies and the German paintings and the dark wood. It works for me. I like the bartenders. I like the pride they take in the drinks they pour. I like how after my first time at Nick’s I knew that this was the place I was looking for.

The Story: For this last stop on the tour I invited people to join me. I had my drink on the stage, read a few pieces from the blog and answered questions. I had over 10 people join me for this, and its great because going bar to bar got pretty lonely, The questions were fun and smart. They asked how excited my wife is for this being over (she’s pretty stoked). One asked if I cared for gin and tonics at all by the end. The answer is, is that I am done with this drink. I have tapped that well. Another question was , have i returned to any of the bars I went to on the tour and actually, no, I went to Vintage Grill once more, but that was for the food and not for drinks (i liked it by the way). I was asked what was a surprise to me, and I mentioned Picollos being a great surprise as a bar, but mostly I talked about how surprisingly welcoming almost all of the bars were: from Cisero’s to Muse to scores more. I only had a handful of bad experiences, but even those places, I was welcome there. There was only one or two places I was truly not welcome (I’m looking at you Grey Hound Pub, and I am not sorry that it is out of business). I was surprised by how after 18 months and 144 bars, I was still excited about the next place that I never knew existed. I am happy it is over. I am happy to be done. I am not going to continue you this with another drink or food item. I am done. But I am happy to have done it.

But I would love someone else to discover Worcester by going to every (fill in the blank). Or if you live in another city, and you want to get to understand it, to feel connected to it, go to every bar, and get a gin and tonic.

I said all these things at Nick’s last night, on stage, drinking a gin and tonic. I am so happy to have done it there. I love that place. I love that the doors are open for me to sit down and get a drink, any drink.

I think there may be one or two more posts, I will do a superlatives list and my friend T wants to make me a really good gin and tonic and I will write that up, and then this blog will be dormant.

Tonight at 7 (September 27, 2015) I will have my final Gin and Tonic for the Tour. Here is the list of all the bars I went to on this tour of every bar in Worcester. I did not succeed, but I went to a lot of places and had a hell of a lot of fun.

1. The Diamond Inn

2. Cafe Neo

3. Suney’s Pub

4. The Blackstone Tap

5. The Greyhound Pub

6. Marty’s

7. Mickey O’Neil’s

8. Gallagher’s

9. McGuire’s

10. Brooks

11. Art’s Diner

12. The Galway Bay Pub

13. Fat Tony’s

14. Herbie’s

15. Patsie Dugan’s

16. The Perfect Game

17. The Arcadia Club

18. Madigan’s Again

19. Union Tavern

20. The Banner

21. The Cosmopolitan Club

22. The Press Box

23. Moynihan’s

24. Breen’s

25. The Varsity Bar and Grill

26. Cisero’s

27. Rivalry

28. The M.B. Lounge

29. The Dive Bar

30. Beatnick’s

31. McDonald’s Tavern

32. Jak’s Pub

33. Moynagh’s

34. Still and Stir

35. City Lights

36. The Nines

37. The Park Grill and Spirits

38. Tweed’s Pub

39. Center Bar and Grill

40 Pleasant Cafe

41 The American Legion Hall – Providence Street

42. Ralph’s Tavern

43. Loft 266

44. El Basha – Park Avenue

45. Anokye Krom

46. Ho Toy

47. The Canal Bar and Grille

48. The Blarney Stone

49. Ken Chin’s

50. The KasBar

51 Guertin’s Cafe

52. George’s

53. Electric Haze

54 The Compass Tavern

55. Scorz

56. The Shisha Room

57. The Parkway Restaurant and Bar

58. Peppercorn’s

59. 7 Nana

60. Bennie’s Bar and Grill

61. Smokey Joe’s Cigar Bar

62. Birkbeck’s Waterfront Grill

63. Sakuro Tokyo

64. Blue Jean’s Bistro

65. Funky Murphy’s

66. Vintage Grill and Gourmet Pizza

67. Plaza Azteca

68. Nancy Chang’s

69. Sake Bomb

70. Smokestack Urban BBQ

71. Pepe’s

72. Sweet

73. The Fix

74. Ralph’s Chatwick Square Diner

75. Northwork’s

76. Ritual

77. Michael’s Cigar Bar

78. 3G’s Sports Bar

79. Zorba’s

80. La Scala

81. Padavano’s Place

82. Fiddler’s Green

83. Joey’s Bar and Grill

84. Mai Tai’s

85. Takara

86. Brew City

87. Volturno Pizza

88. O’Connor’s

89. Shangri-La

90. Citizen Wine Bar

91. G Bar

92. Lucky Dog Music Hall

93. Primo’s Extension

94. Industry

95. Tatnuck Grille

96. Viva Bene

97. Pho Dakao

98. Greendale’s Pub

99. The Raven

100. Jillian’s

101. Hotel Vernon

102. The Red Lantern

103. Kenichi

104. Armsby Abbey

105. Mezcal Cafe

106. Smitty’s Tavern

107. Evo

108. Victory Bar and Grill

109. Green Hill Golf Club House

110. The Flying Rhino

111 Via

112.. Mambo Drink Hookah Lounge

113. The Wexford House

114. Bocado

115. The Urban Kitchen

116. Mi Reyna

117. Meze

118. Grille 57

119. Baba Sushi

120. Mahoney’s

121. Kai

122. 111 Chophouse

123. Piccolo’s

124. The Boynton

125. Sole Proprietor

126. The Sahara

127. Chuan Shabu Pot Pot Restaurant

128. Maxwell’s Silverman’s

129. Nuovo

130. Ceres Bistro

131 Kyoto

132 Stakes Sports Pub

133 The Country Music Ranch and Saloon

134 The Wonder Bar

135 Basil n Spice

136 Rocky’s Sports Bar

137 Dino’s

138 Chioda’s

139 Muse

140 El Rincon

141 Foodworks Chinese Restaurant

142 Mare E Monti

143 Vincent’s

144 Nick’s

and then

rehab (though that place is closed now)