Another Pub Crawl in NYC: A Mini-Trip Report

Mar 8th, 2008, 11:26 AM
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Another Pub Crawl in NYC: A Mini-Trip Report

YEAH!! We had another excuse to go into ‘the City” for a day trip, which means a pub crawl. When I started researching pub/bars in NYC, that specialize in good quality beer, particularly from Germany and Belgium, I found my list kept growing… which can be a good thing. So, this is the second, in perhaps a series, of pub crawls that we have taken (and hopefully will take) in NYC. You can read about our first pub crawl at this link:

Yesterday, my husband (DH) and I, and our friend (SR) and his adult son (JR), ventured into NYC for a postage stamp show at Madison Square Garden, then a little pub crawl afterwards. Yes, a stamp show sounds a bit, ahh…. boring, but... our friend inherited Uncle Joe’s stamp collection, which we are now trying to unload. And like I said, it’s an excuse for a visit into the city.

We live in central Pennsylvania, in a town along Interstate-80, so it is an easy drive from our house into New York. Literally, we make a left out of our driveway, then five right turns, and we are at the intersection of 79th & Broadway. Granted, there is about 150 miles of driving in between some of those right turns, but it’s a pretty simple drive – east on I-80 to the George Washington Bridge, a right onto the Henry Hudson, then another right into the circle at the 79th St Boat Basin, and we’re in the Upper West Side (my favorite neighborhood). It’s a route we have driven dozens of times in the last 30 years, and if timed right, you can avoid traffic.

However, our friend, SR, who drove, really hates sitting in traffic. I honestly think he would rather drive an extra ½ hour just to avoid having to sit in a traffic jam for 15 minutes. He was really hesitant about taking the GW and Henry Hudson, particularly on a Friday, so I posted a thread looking for alternative routes into the city. You can read it here:

I was amazed at how many different alternatives people came up with, and I would like to thank everyone for their input.

After reviewing all our options, we decided to just go with our old, familiar route – if we got stuck in traffic, at least we would know where we were. Taking the train from the suburbs looked very appealing, but we were unsure of the parking situation (safety, and availability after the commuter rush), plus five people were supposed to go on this journey, which would be too expensive at $22.00/person RT.

By the time we finished all our running around in the morning, we got onto I-80 around 8:50 am. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and it was sweater weather. We ran into some traffic around the Delaware Water Gap, mostly from a caravan of five buses filled with school kids and parents heading to Carnegie Hall, where they were performing! We were leaving the NJ rest stop (thank goddess) just as they were arriving, and overheard them chatting. How exciting for them.

As we made our way down I-80, we passed the Mt. Arlington Park & Ride train station, which looked easily accessible from the highway. It was well past 10:00 and the lot still appeared to have many empty spaces.

I was relieved that we didn’t have a problem with traffic at all; in fact, there were only two people in front of us at the GW toll booth (now $8.00), and the Henry Hudson had the normal crowded, but moving traffic.

By 11:30 we were pulling into the parking garage, Wilfred Garage, located at 203 W. 77th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam. The daily rate for 10 hours was $38.00. The blue sky had now turned gray, and there was a brisk bite in the air as we walked to 79th & Broadway to pick up the 1-line to 34th St-Penn Station.

Upon arriving at the station, we made our way through the underground chambers, until we arrived at Madison Square Garden, our destination for the stamp show. I won’t bore you with details about the show, but we were able to confirm what we had suspected, which was that Uncle Joe was a serious collector of stamps.

Now that we had the business end of our trip concluded, it was time for some pub crawling. We left the Garden and walked to 33rd & 6th Avenue, where we picked up the PATH train to Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. We walked down Bedford Street, past the Twin Peaks and looked for Chumley’s, a former speakeasy, but there was scaffolding around most of the block, so we couldn’t find it (is it still there?).

We cut over to Bleecker Street, to the Blind Tiger, located at 281 Bleecker, which came recommended by several Fodor members.

The Blind Tiger offers 28 beers on draught and 50 varieties in bottles. We arrived after 2:00, so there were only a handful of people in the pub, no problem finding a seat. It was a nice little neighborhood bar, with a cozy atmosphere, and a female bartender who was more than willing to take the time to describe the different varieties.

I prefer drinking wine, so when I do drink beer, I’m not very adventurous, but prefer a wheat beer, so I ordered a half liter of Brooklyner Hefe-weisse on draught, which came served in the proper glass, with a nice head that popped out over the rim of the glass. It was quite tasty.

DH & SR each ordered a draught of Alagash Cureux, which is a Belgian beer aged in a smoked bourbon barrel. With each sip of the beer, as the glass was depleted, the taste of the bourbon became more imminent. JR ordered an Aventinus Doppel Bock, which is a wheat beer from Germany.
artstuff is offline  
Mar 8th, 2008, 11:29 AM
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Our next stop was The Peculier Pub, at 145 Bleecker Street, another Fodor recommendation. As we meandered the several blocks down Bleecker, the sky was beginning to look more ominous, and you could smell the hint of rain in the air, above all the other smells that wafted past our noses – from the bakery shop, the fish shop, the coffee shop, the tour busses, and the restaurants. We arrived at Peculier Pub at 3:30, only to realize it doesn’t open until 4:00.

Oh well… no problem. We realize that we’re all hungry, so we just walked back a few doors to #163, to Suzie’s Chinese Restaurant, offering the finest Chinese cuisine in the Village.

Since we arrived before 5:00, we were still there in time for the lunch menu, which included an eggroll or chicken wings, choice of rice, and choice of soup with your entree. DH ordered Sesame Chicken, I ordered Shrimp Lo-mein, and we shared our tasty dinner.

SR order the Shrimp Egg Foo Young, which he said was quite delicious, some of the best he’s ever had, and JR ordered the Pork Pad Thai, which was very spicy, and served just how he likes it. He also really liked the spiciness factor of the hot mustard that they served with the fried noodles as an appetizer, scooping most of it out of the bowl, noodle by noodle.

Feeling quite sated, we waddled back down to #145 Bleecker Street to the Peculier Pub, which was now open for business.

This is another wonderful little neighborhood bar, which is located in a 100 year old building which use to house a Bible shop. The walls of the pub are decorated with art made with beer bottle caps; the ceiling is covered with decorative pressed tin; and there is a small collection of beer cans in a display case, including Billy Beer (DH’s name is Billy).

We found a seat at one of their many long wooden tables and benches and stared at their impressive menu of 400-500 beers from over 50 different countries, trying to decide on a selection. Too many beers… not enough time. We noticed outside the window that it had finally started to rain, and were glad we had a dry, cozy spot for the next couple of hours.

Being the boring beer drinker in the group, I ordered a Weihenstephaner Hefe-weiss on tap, from Germany. DH and SR each started with a draught of Hennepin – Saison Farmhouse Ale, which is a strong US brewed Belgian Ale. JR ordered a glass of Delirium Tremens on tap, which is a Belgium strong ale (9% alc), followed by a bottle of the US brewed Ommegang Three Philosopher’s Quadruple (9.8% alc).

I nursed my hefe-weiss for the evening, and the boys ended with a bottle of Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic for DH, and a bottle each for SR & JR of Don De Dieu from Canada (9% alc).

On one of my several trips to the ladies loo, I had the opportunity to talk with a young woman from the neighborhood, who suggested we try a bar on the southwest corner of West 4th & 6th Avenue. She didn’t know the name, but said they specialized in Belgian beer. You first enter a garden area through a red door, and the pub is located behind the garden. So off we went, dodging rain drops (I was prepared and brought my umbrella) and found the bar, but it was way too crowded to fit four more people into.

It was getting on 7:00 pm by now, and was just too miserably wet outside to enjoy the city, so we decided it was time to head back to the garage, via the subway. It seemed to take forever for our subway train to arrive. Trains were coming and going all around us, but there we stood on the platform, waiting for the D train. Finally it arrived, and whisked us up to Columbus Circle, where we transferred to the 1 train to 79th Street. We quickly dashed through the rain back to the garage and were all very glad that they had a small and rustic, but convenient loo, which we quickly utilized before we departed. They do say you never really own beer, you just rent it.

We traveled 10 miles an hour, in a streaming rain, up the Henry Hudson to the GW Bridge. We soon discovered that part of the back-up was a considerably deep puddle of water just as you entered the GW ramp. Once we forged through the lake, we were on our way, across the bridge, and onto I-80. Traffic was heavy most of the way through New Jersey, but kept moving. It rained terribly and the roads were ponding. The traffic heading east-bound into the city stretched for nearly three miles. As we approached the Mt. Arlington Park & Ride station, the train, despite the $22.00/person cost, suddenly seemed a lot more appealing. We made the decision that next time we did a day-trip into the city we would try the Park & Ride.

So stay tuned for “Yet Another Pub Crawl in NYC: A Mini-Trip Report” coming to your local Fodor’s Forum… as soon as we take the trip.


artstuff is offline  
Mar 8th, 2008, 11:37 AM
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Robyn, Chumley's has been closed for a while now b/c the building started to collapse. There's some uncertainty as to whether it will re-open. Wish you had posted your itinerary so I could have warned you.

Meanwhile, were you carrying around Uncle Joe's stamp location on this pub crawl in the rain?????
mclaurie is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 11:47 AM
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mclaurie is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 11:52 AM
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Chumley's is scheduled to reopen ... in May!
Gekko is offline  
Mar 9th, 2008, 03:59 PM
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That's nice news!
mclaurie is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 03:58 AM
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mclaurie & Gekko - Thanks for the update about Chumley's. I'm glad to hear it was only closed temporarily, and will re-open after repairs. They were busy working on the building when we walked by last Friday.

mclaurie - Uncle Joe's collection was quite large, consisting of 18 binders. We were going to bring several pages of older stamps with us, but decided at the last minute not to - we didn't want to schlepp them with us on our pub crawl, and in the rain. At the show we did make contact with several dealers who will meet with us and give us an appraisal on the collection.

Robyn >-
artstuff is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 04:33 AM
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Sorry, but am I the only one wondering how and why your group spent all day drinking and then got in the car to drive for three hours?? That's a bit scary to me.
skatedancer is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 06:32 AM
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Skatedancer - if you actually bother to read the posting, I actually counted only 2 beers imbibed by SR (the driver). Chill.
lizziea06 is offline  
Mar 10th, 2008, 06:37 AM
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skatedancer -- you gotta live on the edge sometimes.

TwoFatFeet is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 06:52 AM
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art stuff:

Nice report! Ahh German Beer! Nothing better ( well maybe having a heffeweissen in Garmish Germany might add a bit to the experience!)

If I knew the show was at Madison Square Garden I would have told you do drive into the city via Lincoln Tunnel and you could have parked right on "top of MSG"!! It is the first lot right out of the tunnel! Quick, lots of parking, and easy acess back into the tunnel at the end of the day! I think it is still around $30/day!
Next time!
bmw732002 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 01:49 PM
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bmw732002 - I must agree with you, 100%, about German beer... particularly brewed under the specifications of the Bavarian Purity laws. We spent 17 days touring (and drinking) our way through Germany this past fall, and that's when I became a fan of hefe-weissen, served in the proper glass, of course.

The last time we ventured into NYC, we had business at the Jacob Javits Center, so we took the Lincoln Tunnel, but got stuck in traffic (I HATE stopping in the tunnel). On top of that, we paid (got ripped for) over $60.00 to park in a lot a few blocks from the Center. We didn't want to repeat that mistake again. But thanks for the head's up about the MSG parking (I'm not talking about Chinese food).

Robyn >-
artstuff is offline  
Aug 20th, 2008, 03:12 PM
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Update to the re-opening of Chumley's: I spoke with the owner this weekend and he plans on re-opening in 6-7 months. Despite rumors there are NO problems with the landlord or the city of NY. The building is old, repairs take time, money and permits, and everything they touch to fix opens a can of worms and one project easily turns into 10.

Stay tuned!
Margo_Chester is offline  
Aug 27th, 2008, 03:22 AM
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Thanks for the update, Margo. We'll look forward to visiting Chumley's when they reopen.

Although, Chumley's sounds like our house right now... start one project and it turns into 10.

Robyn >-
artstuff is offline  
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