Dino’s – #137 on the Tour

The Bar:  Dino’s Ristorante Italiano

The Address 13 Lord Street

The Day and the Time Friday at 8:30

The price 6.70 (I hate weird drink prices, I miss the age of cash when drinks were priced to be easily divided by the money you had in your wallet and not a random association of numbers that mean nothing because you put everything on a credit card)

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

What was the type of gin It was well

What was the gin and tonic like It was light watery. It was alright, nothing special.

The Joint This is one of the perennial places of Worcester. Its on a dead end road off a Plantation. It has been around since the Mesozoic Era. The place is big, though the bottom floor was not opened this evening. A couple were having their food at the bar, and an older guy, who works there was also at the bar intently watching the Sox game. The decor is large chunky furniture. They have an old mural of the Italian coast on the wall.The food I saw looked good, and the portions were ample. Some people at the tables were well dressed and others were shorts and tees. The place feels like the Italian joint you go to because your great aunt likes it, though she will be annoyed the portions aren’t as good as they used to be.

General Impressions Why do couples eat at the bar instead of a table? In the case of my barmates, its because the guy in the relationship wanted to keep on watching the baseball game. So it’s win-win, she gets a nice pasta and seafood dish and he gets to watch a rare win by his team. I guess that’s one reason to have a bar in a restaurant. The older man who worked at the place, sitting at the bar, and another older employee talked about the lousy Sox team. They were annoyed that the team was doing well, because it was messing up their Rotisserie league. The bar did not have a lot of liquor, it seemed that the patrons drank wine and beer. The bar was an eight seater and it was fun to sit and watch all the people eat their meals. Its not the worst place to watch a game, but this is a place where you here for the food, not for the bar elan.

Amount of Time in the Joint 15 minutes

Will I come back I don’t think so. Maybe if I need a middle of the road Italian joint, I have heard conflicting opinion on the food. The nostalgia factor of a real old school Italian place is fun, but there are so many other options in town. Nothing is around the place, its a real destination eating place, but its a destination you might not want.


Rocky’s Sport Bar – #136 on the Tour

The Bar: Rocky’s – this was the location where Grey Hound Pub was. This is now owned by a guy who used to be a state representative but resigned, which stopped the investigation against him (which is nice for him) now he is a publican and who doesn’t want to go from politician to booze slinger?

The Address 139 Water Street

The Day and the Time Friday at nine

The price 5.50

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime She just put it in, how nice, how politic.

What was the type of gin It was a vile well gin that was distilled on the banks of Chernobyl.

What was the gin and tonic like It was bad. But what I am to expect. I should be more positive about my prospects, I should give it some Beacon Hill spin, so instead I will say that this gin and tonic has potential, it has will to improve, it is a striver, and who can ask for more than that? (actually, I can ask for more than that, but who am I, just a tourist really.)

The Joint It is an improvement over the Grey Hound Pub decor. It doesn’t feel like some football fiend’s man cave slash parent’s garage. The place is open and the wall was taken out to have alfresco dining. It had sports on because everything in Worcester must consider themselves a sports bar. Let me just go on the record here and say that I believe if you are projecting at ear bleeding levels the Rod Stewart dittie “Forever Young” you are not a sports bar, you are something else.

There was a score of people there, all older, except for a few at the bar who seemed to be related to the owner and they were grumpy looking. The older crowd all seemed to know each other.

General Impressions I was a true outsider here and it was obvious I was not part of the usual group of cronies, I mean friends, and I stuck out so much to the point that the owner came over and introduced himself to me and said he was the owner and shook my hand while searching the environs for any baby to kiss. I must tell you, I have never had the owner of a bar introduce themselves to me when I came in during this whole tour. It was odd and made me want to split fast.

The crowd were all friends and some seemed bored. The music blared disco and the bartender turned down the volume but the owner spoke to her and the volume went back up to Spinal Tap This One Goes to  Eleven levels. No one was dancing and the owner went over to his buddies at the tables and spoke to them and entreated and they all went up to dance, sort of. This act reminded me of nothing but that scene in Jaws where the Mayor of Amity noticed that no one was swimming on the Fourth of July so he went to his constituents and got them to reluctantly enter the possibly shark plagued water. That’s what this looked like. Instead of an ominous John Williams score, we had the very loud stylings of ABBA (its hard to decide which is more frightening).

Amount of Time in the Joint 15 minutes

Will I come back My vote goes to No.

Basil -n- Spice – #135 on the Tour

The Bar: Basil and Spice Thai Cuisine

The Address 299 Shrewsbury Street

The Day and the Time Wednesday at 12:45 in the afternoon

The price 8.45. Damn. One of higher priced gin and tonics. Top ten/ And you know the forty five cents was the tax. Really? Charge me 8.50 or better yet, charge me eight bucks. What has this tour come to that I am wanting people to charge me 8 bucks for a two ingredient cocktail.

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime She didn’t but she cut up two slices and put them in.

What was the type of gin The bar did not have a huge amount of bottles and it seemed like there was no well for the basic bottle. She pointed at the three bottles of gin they had and I picked Tanqueray because that seems to be the high end basic gin I have come across.

What was the gin and tonic like, I watched her measure out the amount of gin and I cringed, but who are we to comment. The interesting thing I noticed was that she poured the gin and then put the ice in. Kind of different or at least I have not been aware of this before. She gave me the drink and I must say, in praise of measuring out the gin, this was a good, well balanced drink. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I tasted the Tanqueray, I got the tonic, which was not flat. The freshly sliced lime also helped. I really liked this cocktail.

The Joint For years, this hidden away Shrewsbury street local was an Indian place. It is behind Funky Murphy’s. You have to be looking for it and you know, I think it might be worth the quest. The interior was airy and clean. The tables were well presented and it was nice to see that for a new place, they did have diners. It didn’t go over board on asian decorations, which to me is a good thing because it allows the food to be the focal point. The bar was small but fine for a restaurant. I was the only one at the bar, but that ain’t a surprise for me.

General Impressions: This was a nice restaurant to come in to for a drink. It is welcoming and comfortable. The staff was nice. The food, from what I saw, looked awesome and it smelled enticing. The TV had the coverage of the endless deflate gate, but you could ignore that with aplomb. I wanted to stay and get some food. Which to me, is high praise for restaurant bars. They did have a cocktail menu with several offerings featuring lychee fruit. Of course they had the Mai Tai, but everyone has the Mai Tai.

Amount of Time in the Joint 15 minutes

Will I come back Maybe not for just drinking, but it could be a nice alternative to Funky Murphy’s next door. But this is a big yes, I want to try the food.

Noamesco Sports Bar – 10 Points on Why I Didn’t Go There

1. Noamesco is a bar, labeled a sports bar on the web site, that has been in Webster Square on 3 Mill Street for several years. From what the web site shows, this a night club for dancing and socializing and looking fine. There are no Red Sox Penants or signed Patriots posters. There is no edict to be open for the big game. On Saturday nights a man is at the door with a velvet rope placed out waiting for the dancers and the schemers to show. So what’s makes this a sports bar?

2. This spot has always been a bar or an out of business bar waiting for someone to open up the next big thing for Webster Square. I have been in Worcester for over 15 years and it has always been a joint or a closed down joint. Now, it is a joint that is hardly ever open, so in some ways it is both.

3. For a while, a short while thankfully, it was called the Crow Bar, and had on its awning a cartoon Heckel and Jeckel like black bird. Yeah, not racist at all. The other names for the bar, who can recall? Bar names in these parts are not memorable. We have a slew of bars called, Mike’s, Mickey’s, Phil’s, Finnegan’s, The Goal Post, The Golden Lounge, Henry’s, Hank’s, The Shot Glass, TRs. I’ll meet you at the place on the street with the thing. Yeah, see you there. I would love to be able to go to a uniquely labeled bar. I pass Jerry’s Bar every day from work, and can’t be motivated to stop, but if I passed The Mandlebrot Set and Spirits, I might have to hit the breaks and find a parking spot.

4. There were years when this location was empty. Fallow. It has been Noamesco for a while. And though this name is not typical, it does not stick in the head. Several people have told me about this bar they have seen that I should go to for this tour, but can never remember what its called. I have had to look up the name several times. This is not an insult, it just makes it hard to desire to go to a place who’s name is elusive and forgettable.

5. On the side of the bar is a movable letter sign. About a year ago it announced that Thursday is Ladies Night. This sign was set out in the wilderness and told to be free. It was not kept up. Soon letters began to wander off. And then it read that Thur was lies night. That’s ridiculous. At a bar, every night is lies night. We lie about our relationships, about our jobs, we lie with our words and clothes and the way we tip. Lieing is just the way it goes at a bar. Saying you cannot lie at a bar is like saying you may not drink poor beer and listen to loud music. Eventually. more letters set off on their own and the sign something like Thr i Lis. So I suppose the place has become more truthful.

6. I have tried to go to this bar for my one gin and tonic for over six months. I only try on the weekend. I have seen it on Friday nights after nine with lights on but no one inside, not even staff. I went in once in May at 10:30 on a Friday and there were two men, well dressed, and that’s it. I turned around and decided to try it again. It appeared that the clientelle are originally from Ghana, though I could be wrong about that. Regardless, I totally wanted to check a night club (not a sports bar) of a different culture. But to do that, there needs to be people around.

7. Their website shows events going on Thursdays but I have driven by there on Thursdays at ten and the place was dark. So it seems, and I am not sure, that they are only open Friday and Saturday.

8. It is Saturday and it is almost eleven o’clock at night. This is not too early for a night club is it? I park. I walk to the bar that is alight. There is no one inside. At the side door, the Mills Street door, a large man is working the velvet rope. He is dressed up. There is a woman talking to him, she is in killer going on the town rags. No one else is clamoring to get in. I look and see that there is a cover, I think about ten dollars. This blog has a “No Cover” policy. I am paying enough for gin and tonics, why pay just to get in for the drink. I leave the empty bar with the bouncer holding no one back, throwing no one out. It is past eleven, where is everyone. Is there anyone for this place?

9. I spoke to several people about this place. And I found myself doing a math word probelm. If people only come after eleven and bars close at two, and this place only seems open Friday and Saturday, how can this be a viable business? It is open for less than ten hours a week and yet they have a full bar and lights and music and bouncers. I just don’t get it.

10. Part of me is happy that I didn’t have to get another poor gin and tonic. But the other part is disappointed.. That’s the part that started this tour of every bar in Worcester. This is the part that will wonder if I missed something different, something wonderful, something I would rush home to tell you about.

International Lounge -Not a stop on the tour because all they had was wine and Bud Light

The Bar: International Lounge

The Address 27 Pleasant Street

The Day and the Time Saturday at 10:40

The Story: I don’t know what I walked into. I am still not quite sure. But the world is richer for all the uncertainty.
It was on Pleasant Street, in the location where a night club called Red was. But Red isn’t there anymore. It was empty for quite some time, like many of the husks of nightclub greatness past that Pleasant Street now is. A grave patch of former drinking. There stands still the empty Tammany Hall. and other bars and attractions that now have grown fallow, like alcoholic cranbery bogs. A couple years ago this location was reanimated into a hookah bar and restaurant. It gave up the ghost last year.

Driving by on Saturday, heading toward another bar I needed to go to for this tour, I saw the sign International Lounge like I have seen for some time, but this time the light was on, people were milling out by the door. I found a parking spot and walked in. It was a good sized brick wall rectangle. There were sofas and chairs and people milling about. It seemed like most of the people were Spanish speakers.

In the back of the room was a bar like formation and I headed toward that, which is always good advice when entering a new location: head for the bar like thing. On approaching a young woman came up and smiled. “Hey,” she said, “You here for a drink or to meet someone?”

I looked around, “For a drink if that’s okay.”

She smiled again. “Absolutely, we have Bud Light and uh, yeah, we have wine if you want wine.”Alright, the place was brand new and maybe didn’t have their full liquor license, maybe they weren’t even trying for it and just happy with beer and wine. I knew this wasn’t a true stop on this Gin and Tonic tour (a pretender to the crown) but it is beyond rude to turn around and leave. I said, “That would be great, could I have a Budweiser.”

She smiled and said, “Bud Light.”

I stopped myself from giggling. “Sure, Bud Light please.” I got my cold bottle of something I don’t usually drink and paid three bucks for the privilege. I stood by the wall looking as insignificant as possible. I drank quickly. At the tables were couples mostly. The women were dressed fancy for the night out. The men were young and muscular. I was done in three minutes.

On leaving, I saw they had a sandwich board outside inviting people in for the grand opening. Well, look at me, such a glamorous trendsetter.

I don’t know if they will have a liquor license. I don’t know if there name is the International Lounge or that they didn’t get a chance to take the old sign down. I don’t know who will take this place as their own, call it their local hangout. I don’t know if I should include this in these tour notes because my time in this place was under five minutes

The Wonder Bar – #134 on the Tour

The Bar: The Wonder Bar

The Address 121 Shrewsbury Street

The Day and the Time Saturday at 10:10

The price 6 dollars

Did they ask me if I wanted a lime she asked and then gave it to me

What was the type of gin It was a vile well drink, you know, my favorite kind

What was the gin and tonic like It was alright, the bartender (or the person acting bartender) seemed a little off her game, she didn’t have a good flow on finding the drink and ringing it up. This does effect the drink experience. Its all a show. If you are shaky making the silly thing, then it won’t be a great time having it.

The Joint There is a nice feeling in realizing that this great Worcester mainstay is back. It was gone for about two years or so. It was sad when it shuttered. Another owner has it and he did a lot of repair and cleaning in it. I miss the dark cramped of the old Wonder Bar, but hey, its open. The bar is now twice as long and the place is scrubbed and bright. I don’t know how the pizza is, I hope it is good, because it didn’t have much a personality. Nothing bad really, but there was something about that old wreck of a Wonder Bar. This is a nice presentable pizza restaurant.

General Impressions And now….Dante of Worcester’s Guide on How to Make a Casual Walk In Drinker Unwelcome. This is great to know if you just finished a long rush of diners and now it is the ungodly hour of ten o’clock (ten o’clock? is anyone even awake at that time?) and you want to go home or maybe stay at the bar and eat and chat with friends, not help anyone else out, doesn’t this guy know that you should not enter a restaurant bar when the staff is mentally done?

The best way to make him feel unwelcome is before you greet them (why greet them, they shouldn’t be here, they should be sitting in a Barbary Coast bar stool with a trap door dropping them into a cell) you should look them straight in the eye and say, “The Kitchen’s closed. You can’t get pizza anymore tonight.”

That’s the way to do it. Don’t say hello. Don’t ask them what they want and then let them know what’s available. Don’t do any of those things. Just tell them of all the things they will not be able to have and give them the hint that this is a good time for them to leave and find a Dunkin Donuts to bother. Now it is true the bar is still open, but come on…… Really. This place is a pizza joint. Sure it says Bar in the name of the place, but that’s just part of a pun, right?

A smart guy will make for the door, but this one doesn’t and asks if he can get a drink if that’s alright. Dammit. You’re screwed. You put on a smile and get him his drink. A gin and tonic? That’s a lame drink. Make sure you take your time pouring it for him. Make him know that this is a hassle. Stop in the making of it to talk to your friends who are working with you and are lucky to not be bothered with a customer. Who is this guy anyway?

Once he gets it and pays, ignore him. Talk to your friends. Give them drinks quickly. Don’t ask him if he wants anything else, because really, he shouldn’t even want to be here. The real customers were the ones who came during the rush and waited and sat and tipped and left. People drinking at the bar are just loiterers. If you ignore him long enough he will get the hint and leave. And thank goodness, he does. And only a dollar tip? Cheapskate!

Amount of Time in the Joint 10 minutes

Will I come back No

The Country Music Ranch and Saloon – #133 on the Tour

The Bar: The Ranch

The Address 70 James Street

The Day and the Time Thursday at Nine. During the week, the ten dollar cover charge ceases at nine and then I can enter. Gin and Tonics Across Worcester has a no cover charge policy. It doesn’t mean I will give up on the place, it just means I will show up at odd times like Thursday at Nine.

The price Six Fifty

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

What was the type of gin It was well gin

What was the gin and tonic like Not too great, but this is a place that seems to sell a lot more bottles of water than beer or drinks, so you can’t expect mixological greatness in the joint.

The Joint This is a very large space that is located in a huge, immense buildingand could fit in other clubs and businesses but seems underused and it comes across as shabby. The building, not the bar. You do have to walk down one of the hallways to get to the Ranch. Sorry, You have to mosey down a hallway to get the Ranch. There. Better.

The Ranch is big, the bar not as big as you might think, but as I said earlier, people seem to be there more for the dancing  than the drinking. And even at nine on a thursday there were about 30 or 40 people on the dance floor doing the line dance thing. I come from a world of bad high school dances where the boys leaned against the gym risers and tried to not feel awkward. I then graduated to mosh pits and general dancing destruction, so this line step rule based dancing is foreign to me. But that doesn’t mean that it is wrong or bad, just different. The bartender was friendly, but seemed happier when friends would come by the bar so they could chat and plan their days off together. Near the large dance floor was a grouping of tables and people were gathered there mostly when not feeling the need to go out and heel toe heel toe kick and turn and heel toe (I mean shake their groove thing).The place was brightly lit. Near the front, an employee was putting cups of water in a pattern on a table, preparing for drinking game shenanigans to start later no doubt.

General Impressions You could tell the regulars, they had cowboy boots. No matter what they were wearing, they had cowboy boots to finish the ensemble.

Recently, someone was complaining that there was not enough places in town for him to go to. Places he liked. So though he didn’t like Maxwell Silverman’s and the scene, he wanted to dance and that was the place he wound up at. The Ranch fills a need, a niche. One cannot complain that there isn’t a place to country line dance in Worcester. Those who want to will go here. And judging from the friendly familiar conversations, they certainly do go here and have created friendships based on this place. If this is not your thing, don’t go here. but if you do and don’t mind the ten dollar cover on the weekends and before nine PM during the week, then have at it.

There were younger people there who knew the dances and sang along to the songs. There were also older folk out for an evening trying to figure out which foot kicks and at which point. I like that there is a place that makes people happy to be out. I of course was singing Talking Heads tunes to myself while working at my poor drink.

Amount of Time in the Joint 20 minutes

Will I come back No. And I knew that going in. But its a fine enough place. There is a sense of self selecting community going on here. Want a country music based community to be a part of? That go to the Ranch. It’s decent. Me? I am not looking for such a place, so will boody down into the sunset while no one shouts out after me, “Shane! Come back Shane!”