Mi Reyna Latino Tapas and Bar – #115 on the Tour

The Bar: Mi Reyna

The Address 394 Belmont Street

The Day and the Time Saturday 8:30

The price 8 dollars

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime He did and he

What was the type of gin It was a nice high end one that tasted good but I didn’t write down the brand so the truth is lost to history.

What was the gin and tonic like It was quite good, though it could have stood a little bit more gin, the young man gave me a shot glass measurement of gin. I shouldn’t complain all too much because I’m the one who goes on about drinks that have an over abundance of booze. So who am I to kvetch about a carefully proportioned glass?

The Story: My friend told me about this place with glee, knowing I want to get to the end of my list of bars to visit, and can’t seem to get there. This used to be a D’Angelo’s sandwich shop and it looks like it. I went in and there was a foursome eating what they call Latin American Tapas. There were people at the bar, but it turned out that they were folk related to the restaurant. The first impression of the place could have been better, You walk in to see the industrial kitchen. If I could make a suggestion. Put up a curtain. Or love beads. Everybody digs love bead curtains in Latin American Tapas joints.  It got better from there.

The main room has a small bar that worked nicely. The best part is though they had a TV by all the nicely apointed liquor bottles, the set was not on. This was great. I must say, I want to see less TVs and more talking or drinking or both. I have been to 120 bars for this tour at this writing and I can count on one hand how many bars didn’t have a TV on during my visits. I guess people want TV, but my time at this place was good without it. I talked. I drank. I was aware of my surroundings. (Wow, end of sermon, please).

At the bar was the daughter of the waitress and a girl who was building the website for the restaurant. The group at the table were finishing up, and all seemed happy. The young guy behind the bar (late teens or early twenties) seemed nervous at my order. Told me a couple times that the guy who does the bar all the time, who is awesome at making drinks, was away at his daughter’s graduation and he was recruited for this weekend only to be behind the stick (He didn’t say behind the stick, I seem to be the only person to still use that term for bartender anymore, but dammit, I’m trying to bring it back). The young guy asked what gin I wanted, I said I was in his hands. He hesitated, picked a gin and made a drink. “Here it is,” he said, “If its not right, let me know and I can fix it.” Oh crap, I was charmed. This adorably lost kid, with such a shayna punim, just wanted to do right by the customers, no matter how many or few of them he had. I liked this place. Don’t ask me why, I just liked it.

But this was not an easy place just to have a drink and split. I felt very conspicuos. So I decided to break my rule and have food. I couldn’t justify not. A nice group of people, not a lot of people at the place. I wanted to do right by it. The food choices were unique and the menu listed what part of Central and South America it originated. I picked a shrimp cerviche which came from Mexico. It had marinated shrimp, coconut and raisins. This was like nothing I have had before. It felt authentic and it was delicious. Maybe a little sweet for my tastes, but I really enjoyed it and would have liked to try more dishes. And it worked well with my gin and tonic, so it had that going for it.

I kibbitzed with the waitress, the bartender and the others attached to the place. I asked the bartender kid if this was his first gin and tonic he ever made and he admitted that it was. “Was it okay?” he asked worried. I said it was great and “It’s a hard one to mess up, it has four ingredients: gin, tonic, ice and a lime. You got all four. You did well.” He smiled with such naches. I must have liked the joint, I’m bringing out all my yiddish phrases.

Will I come back Yes. I want to try a bunch of dishes. If the main bartender is there, I might try a tequila drink. I want to share this with my friends. I want to share this with you. I liked it, its different and good. I usually don’t go out on a limb for this tour, but please, give this small place a try.


Sidecar Discussion: Honest Booze Reviews

Hi all, later today will be a long review on Mi Reyna, but for now I came across this. honestboozereviews.com mentioned this blog positively which is always nice. S/He then wrote this which I think of a great way to consider this tour. “This though is the point – in that anyone who views this site should also continue to try new places. It’s easy to see people who fall into the same kind of spirit or beer or even bar, and because friends or family, or Yelp reviews they never leave that comfort zone. I’m not saying if you find a scotch you like you shouldn’t get it on occasion – but keep searching and you don’t know what you’ll find.”

Thanks for the good thoughts and for the mention.


Sidecar Discussion – This and That and Some of the Other Thing

-So a friend came up to me and said, “So Dante, there is a new Latin Tapas restaurant that opened near me, it looks good.” Then she paused and smiled a malicious smile and said, “It has a full bar.” That’s when your host swore. I put it on the list. Of course I put it on the list. I am trying to go to all the bars in Worcester, so I did. But I feel like the reverse Tantalus. Instead of not getting anything to drink, I always have new places to drink. More choices. More things on the list. I envy Tantalus. I now have around 20 or so bars and or restaurants on the list, but its not going down, because I am hearing of other places to go to, or am convinced by friends that places I wasn’t going to visit, I have to go to. But its around 20 to go. I better drink faster than new bars can open. Its a race, we’re taking bets.

-Want to know who I am, here’s a hint, the last two bars I went to, I discovered later, my fly was down the entire time. So there, you have a clue.

-I want to thank those who are telling others about my blog, it means a lot to me. Keeps me going on this final lap or two. I do want to say hello to the Twitter account Gin World who is reposting my recent stops on the tour. Also, the Raven put links to my mention of them on their website, that’s awfully nice. Of course I did like the Raven a lot.

-And now I will try a catch phrase, let’s see how it goes.

-That’s it for me, Gin On everybody.


The Urban Kitchen – #114 on the Tour

The Bar: The Urban

The Address 225 Shrewsbury Street

The Day and the Time Thursday 8:40

The price 8

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime Yes

What was the type of gin Tanqueray

What was the gin and tonic like Eh. Just eh. Well, I really felt uncomfortable during my seven or so minutes there, so I didn’t enjoy the drink.

The Joint For years this was Coral Seafood, a perennial of Worcester. Now the kids have taken over and made it a charcuterie. The insides are nice and feel like a hip joint (more in a second on that) but the outside they have done nothing. Nothing. They have not taken down the Coral Seafood sign. Instead they put a big plastic banner and hung it over the Coral Seafood signage, which you can see peeking out. That’s an okay stop measure, but this plastic sign has been out there since the end of December, so five months.I’m sorry, but you want to be a serious business, change the damn sign.

The place has a nice design and warm colors. I liked it. Behind the bar was a huge projection screen where they were playing without sound On the Waterfront. I liked that a lot, I thought it was cool. All you need is people to make it good and I know I always hit the wrong times, but I don’t think Thursday at 8:45 is a time to roll up the sidewalks. Really.

General Impressions One of the weirder conversations I have had during this whole thing. Before I went in, I decided it was time to check the place out because I saw through a window people sitting at tables drinking and chatting. When I walked in I realized that what I saw was not the Urban but the window to the coffee house right next door. That place was busy, this place, it was not. There was a bartender and a woman at the bar, who was a waitress who had finished her shift. There were two other people wandering around as well, who from time to time perched like birds at the bar.

The girl at the bar, the waitress, looked at me and started asking me questions in a monotone, that could have been exhaustion or a sense of existential annoyance. She asked me questions in a lackadaisical manner, but still you could tell she wanted answers. Why did you come here?” This is always a strange question. Shouldn’t you be happy for customers, not questioning? I said I was in the area and decided to have a drink (my standard non answer). She asked me what I was drinking. She asked me if I liked gin and tonics, even though I told her I drank them. She asked me if I like beer. What beer do I like. All in a weird bland tone. A medicated interrogation. This was going on for a couple minutes. Then she asked, “Where you before you came in?” I am not quite sure but I took this as the oddest of questions. I paused and then said, “What?” She asked the question again, and I paused and said, “I just walked in for a drink.”

She stopped the grilling and then the two others at the place went back to the bar and apologized to the bartender (their friend) for what happened before, for all the chaos and they hope she won’t get in trouble from her boss. The bartender shrugged and said she didn’t care. What the hell did I miss?

I spoke to Bartender Brian afterwards and we thought that the off duty waitress’s strange behavior could be three things. She could have been hitting on me in the most horrible way possible. She could have figured me out as Dante of Worcester, which we both thought was not too likely. The one we thought is that she just hates waiting tables here and hates the place and is asking these questions because she can’t understand why anyone would want to come to this place that’s totally empty at 8:45 on Thursday.

Amount of Time in the Joint 10 minutes, if that, the waitress at the bar kind of freaked me out. I don’t know why exactly, just that I was looking forward to getting away from her and her robot voice questions.

Will I come back No. Come for the cool atmosphere. Come for the sad emptiness. Come for the lame banner that almost hides the fact that the Urban Kitchen is just a plastic throw over from years of Coral Seafood. Come for the uncomfortable questions from the off duty staff, which is always fun. Yes, do come. No.

Bocado – #113 on the Tour

The Bar: Bocado

The Address 82 Winter Street

The Day and the Time  Sunday at seven on Mother’s Day

The price 7

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime He asked and put it in with skill and grace.

What was the type of gin Bombay

What was the gin and tonic like I haven’t talked about it, but the glass that they used was good looking and felt good in the hand. Maybe because most of the glasses are basic and utilitarian. This glass was nice (This section of Gin and Tonics Across Worcester is sponsored by Crate and Barrell) The drink was very good. I had Bombay gin once before in this tour, and this seemed to be the better of the two drinks. It was a very nice drink..

The Joint I still think of this as the place that used to be SPQR, an Italian coffee and drinks place that lasted just a tiny bit a decade ago. Its been Bocado for some time and its a nice, good looking restaurant. The bar is small and its more for eating and waiting for friends then as a bar. I liked how it still felt like a bar.

General Impressions I can imagine having a drink here waiting for a friend or for having a few appetizers. At the bar, were a couple folk from other Niche restaurants having drinks, talking familiar with the staff. The bartender was good, he knew his game. It was a pleasant time having a drink, which is not something I always feel when at a restaurant bar. In a lot of instances, I feel like I am putting in time before I can leave, that there is something odd about me just having a drink and no food. Here, I didn’t have that problem.

Amount of Time in the Joint 15 minutes

Will I come back Sure. I like the restaurant, I like the area. The bar was good.

The Wexford House – #112 on the Tour

The Bar:  Wexford House

The Address 503 Shrewsbury Street.

The Day and the Time Sunday at six on Mother’s Day

The price Eight bucks for the tall Gin and Tonic. I don’t know what I was thinking getting the large. I would have been just fine with a small. Especially because it wasn’t that good.

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

What was the type of gin Tanqueray

What was the gin and tonic like It was harsh. There was something wrong with it. There was bitterness that didn’t seem right. I think it was bad tonic. I don’t know, but it was not an enjoyable drink.

The Joint A basic meat and potato place is very comforting, where you can get a turkey dinner special or a basic steak dinner, where the place is brightly lit and generic. Where the carpet is clean but worn. This is the place your grandparents go to. This is the place you take your grandparents to and hope they pick up the check. There was Keno screens in the bar and in the dining rooms. There was large parties being accommodated for Mother’s Day. It felt bland,which I think was intended. I noticed the fact the food was served on modern white rectangular plates because it was the only thing that seemed out of place from a restaurant from 1992.

General Impressions I had a drink in a place that serves affordable meals. People working were friendly. The drink came quickly. At the bar, people were holding on to their leftovers. One guy was just there because this is where he usually is. Its a place. Its been here a long time.

Amount of Time in the Joint 10 minutes

Will I come back No. Though I can imagine taking an aunt here if I am in a bind on where to go.

Mambo Drink Hookah Lounge – #111 on the Tour

The Bar: Mambo Drink Hookah Lounge

The Address 105 Water Street

The Day and the Time Cinco de Mayo at nine thirty.

The price 7

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime No, he seemed to have a hard time finding the gin. I was the first one in, though they had opened thirty minutes before and the bar was not set up and then came the long process of getting the gin and tonic. From ordering to receiving the drink in an empty bar was five minutes

What was the type of gin Well

What was the gin and tonic like Pretty lousy. It was a drink, and that’s something, there was a moment when I thought I wasn’t going to get any kind of a drink.

The Joint I have a no cover charge rule on this tour, but that does not mean I don’t want to go to those places, it just means that I will try to go when they don’t have a cover, on off days. This is the second time I have done that (the first was at the Lucky Dog) and with the same results: I was the only one in the joint. I thought I had planned this out because I saw a flyer for Mambo saying they would be open for Cinco de Mayo ( a Tuesday) and there would be no cover. The doors opened (says the flyer) at nine. I got there at nine thirty. Only one there save the staff of five. They were only just setting up the bar when I got there. So they didn’t expect anyone this early. I do wonder how the crowd would be on a Tuesday, I don’t know.  If anyone was to show, I am sure it was going to be closer to eleven then my ridiculous nine thirty.

What I saw was a long thin room that had flashing disco lights and laser doo hickeys and they were pumping a smoke machine to give it a clubby from the nineties feel. There were tables and chairs and large swaths where the invisible people can boogy down (I just like typing the term boogy down). They had large plasma tvs showing the visual to a SexySexySexy music video (they look sillier without the sound on). It looked like a perfectly acceptabble and dare I say, good place for night clubbing activities. Just add people. The one thing that is odd is its Hooka Bar designation. I didn’t see any hookas on my once over of the joint. I didn’t see any tobacco menu or any similar to what I found at Electric Haze and the Shisha room. I wonder if Mambo has the designation so that people can smoke, I don’t know, but it certainly was more a regular night club to my eye than a hooka emporium (not that I am complaining, I’m just stating). Everything there is geared for Spanish speakers, and that’s wonderful we have a location for a part of Worcester community that might not be taken care of in other places.

General Impressions: Let me just say right now, I know the goal is to go to every bar in Worcester for my gin and tonic fix, but I am just rubbish at night clubs. I am middle aged, married with kids, and I never did like going to dance clubs when I was young and single. I have a job that starts early in the morning. I can’t start the tour at eleven at night or later so that I can truly see what’s what with a joint.  If this tour is to see the cultures of bars and drinking establishments in this CIty, than I suck at it, because I just can’t stay up that late. And this problem is not just night clubs, I estimate that in 10% of the bars I have been too on this tour, I have been the only one there. That’s not the fault of the bar, per se, just on when I can make it to a bar. But you know, the bar is open for business, so it really is no blame on me when the joint is empty either. All I’m saying is that I will not have a good sense of night club culture from this tour. I have two more night clubs that are still on my list, wish me luck that I will see something. I suck at night clubs, but I did get a gin and tonic, so mission accomplished

Amount of Time in the Joint 15 minutes, most waiting for the drink.

Will I come back No. I hope they get customers, but I know its not my place