Monday, June 29, 2009


158 Ludlow St.
New York, NY 10002
(212) 505-3733

Bathroom situation
- Visceralist is conflicted because the bathroom situation here really shouldn't be straight bozack, but somehow it is. There're three single-persons in the basement which don't usually have a ridic line-up, but they're small and usually dirty-dingy. The real melodrama, though, goes down in the two BRs upstairs (both also single-person). They're right next to the bar and it always (always!) becomes a good ol' clusterfuck 'round there (and not the good kind). And they're just!
Takes credit cards? - yes! And! When you get the check, they put it on a fucking mini-clipboard! With a pen under the clip! Now! Rap about that, Lady Gaga!
Crowded on weekends? - if you have to ask...
Seating - Three-ish tables and ten-ish stools in the front room. Smooth, cushioned couches upstairs. But don't get bogged down by any of that, because you won't be finding a seat on any night you'd actually deign to show up here.
Neighborhood - the Calcutta/Mumbai-times-infinity sliver of the LES (but more crowded). Enough cabs, cop cars and pedestrians to make you feel safe (and to make you not wanna feel safe).
Type of crowd - here you'll find girls that have that certain shade of ambition, girls that know they shouldn't be wearing clothes quite that tight (and say "fuck it"), and girls that just like to drop and do the booty-wop!
Pretentious/assholes - given the location (location [location!])'s a given. [ed. that is not a joke.] Yes it is.
Cost of Stella - a strong 6 bones.
What time people start showing up - tough to say. Pianos has always been nice with their dinner game so that crowd tends to bleed into the late-nite/concert crowd. Chances are, if you're in the mood to head over there, at least 20 other people will have had the same idea and already acted on it.
Bartender efficiency - straight trife! One of Pianos' few drawbacks is the damnded arrogance/incompetence/triflin if its bar staff. [ed. ok, that's a bit harsh; but only a bit] Basically, if you're here on a Thur-Sat after 10pm or at any time when a hot band like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (remember them?) is playing, you'd better either be model-hot or wearing your laurel-wreath-of-Jacksons if you want to get what you actually ordered in under 10 mins. So horde that shit accordingly, chipmunk, cuz it's the damn winter out this bitch!
Official Website - here. Maybe the best part of the entire Pianos experience. Accurate event/show listings, easy-to-find contact info + ticket links, banner ads, photo galleries out the ass & full menu (they gots them there some bottle service!). Really, you'd think this kind of stuff would be de rigueur for any halfway decent bar/venue in NYC, but it izzain't.
Food? How late - Visceralist doesn't want to think too hard on this, so offhand we'll say that Pianos has the best menu out of any of the reputable NYC venues where you might happen to see the likes of The Harlem Shakes play a gig. The burger isn't as good as everyone says, but it's decent, the appetizers are doin' the damn thang and the prices are dick-swellingly cheap (you'll think to yourself, "This place has bottle service?! For what?!")
TVs? What's on - no TVs, but it would be too loud in here to hear Al Pacino tell Michelle Pfeiffer to take another quaalude anyway, so damn that.
Guy:girl ratio - fellas! Better hope your guy didn't flake. Failing that, better hope your made-up anecdote about the Black Lips crashing on the floor of your apt in their tightie-whities cuz your roomate works at Vice has all the right details to sound believable. Cuz this place is like catnip for the beaches.
Toys - Rock Triva followed by Karaoke on Monday nights in the upstairs lounge, but Visceralist has never been so...the weekly event has a MySpace (for what?!)
Age of clientele - 18 to 808teen.
Space for dancing? - yes, the upstairs actually actually gets mad decent most nights. $5 cover on Saturdays which is wazz, but cheaper than most other dance-spots in the hood.
Grimeyness - the bathrooms downstairs and the concert space in the back are fairly sticky-dicky, but the rest of Pianos is somehow able to pull off some semblance of a dignified sheen.
ID Check Procedure - opposite of inept. They have a bouncer with one of those card-swipers on the weekends after 9pm. However, if you're 20- and go and get dinner before then, then hang around for a show, you'll prolly be able to find a sympathetic bartender.
Music medium, style & volume
- front room, you'll get the bartender's iPod and like it, goddammit! Stage-area, you'll get some live & earnest background noise to accompany your texting. Upstairs on dance nights you'll get that fiya(!) or something middling-but-tolerable.
Specials or most popular drink - 3-7pm weekdays: "select" $3 beers and $4 well & wine. Chances are, if you're likely to ever set foot in Pianos, you (a) never get done with work in time for you to give a shit about this or (b) have enough money that you don't give a shit about a discount. Step your game up, Pianos! Local 138 is basically next door and has a way better happy hour than you.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fat Baby

112 Rivington St.
New York, NY 10002
(212) 533-1888

Bathroom situation
- downright scandalous. There's one hidden around the first corner to the left as you enter. Wack wack. Then there's two downstairs, but they're as dirty as Piano's. Best bet is to go before you head over here or rock your LV colostomy bag.
Takes credit cards? - yes, but this place is wild shady, so stop by an ATM first. Bank of America, Chase & WaMu are all within a block of this spot, so don't trip.
Crowded on weekends? - see, this is the thing. This place (along with Libation) is one of the few places in the LES to regularly enforce a line on the weekend. Everytime Visceralist walks by this place on the weekend (on the way to a better bar) the words "For what?!" bubble up out of our lips. It's instinctive. And apt.
Seating - this place functions as a combination dive/lounge/venue so, as you walk through the place, the seating is as such: inadequate # of stools -> plenty of plush I Dream of Jeanie couches -> nathan.
Neighborhood - Visceralist's boy Mikey calls this the "lone posh block in the LES." Dude has a few Muse songs memorized and thinks he's British. Smh.
Type of crowd - dudes who wear size "mwah!" jeans and the fools who love them. Plus your usual B&T scumbos.
Pretentious/assholes - unfortunately, kinda. This place is owned by the same people who run the remarkable Spitzer's Corner, but somehow it still comes off kind of like the set of a "typical hipstery NYC bar" in a Ron Howard movie.
Cost of Stella - on tap: $6. So like $7 w/tip.
What time people start showing up - line starts forming 11:30ish. Unfortunately, no real reason to get here before then.
Bartender efficiency - not a lot of lushes here, so not a lot of pressure at the ol' lean-to. So take your time deciding between the Sierra Nevada and the Brooklyn Lager. It makes a difference.
Official Website - here. Has all the basics: mostly empty calendar of events, html form for reserving private parties, list of beers they sell (oh snap, they have Guiness!). Plus it's pink (for what?!).
Food? How late - A decent halal cart sets up right around the corner on most weekend nights, so hold the bacon!
TVs? What's on - pssshht.
Guy:girl ratio - if there's an equal mix of girls and guys here, and they're both mostly banal, does it make a sound really matter?
Toys - bands (like friend-of-a-friend status) in the basement sometimes.
Age of clientele - as Visceralist is hitting oldish age, everyone looks younger and younger. So, let's say, mostly 25-27 yr olds.
Space for dancing? - yes, both the lounge section and the downstairs area are replete with rug for the cutting! Stick to a simple two-step though, this ain't Madonna's "Ray of Light" video, ok? (ha, would Youtube-link it, but apparently Warner didn't clear it for YouTube...drammmaaaa!)
Décor - dark, loungey, dark. Bland ad infinity.
Grimeyness - downstairs is fucked. Like you seriously might find a cracked egg on the wall for no reason. Upstairs is slightly better, but seriously who could tell with the wearing-sunglasses-indoors vibe here.
ID Check Procedure - they have a bouncer but the ID check is definitely secondary to how many tiny LV's or GG's you've managed to squeeze into your outfit.
Music medium, style & volume
- loud, but not "loud-as-dick!" loud. Your usual indie-rock meets top 40 bullshit. Pfft.
Specials or most popular drink - bottle service in the house! But they misspelled "Christal" on their website so sniff the cork before you sign the $385 + tip bill.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mehanata Bulgarian Bar

113 Ludlow St.
New York, NY 10002
(212) 625-0981

Bathroom situation
- one unisex cubicle in the rear (back...and to the left) on the street level, two on the lower level. The ground-floor one is a hot mess, but the ones in the basement are damn-near romantic.
Takes credit cards? - yes, but there's a $20 min which is strictly enforced...though it may actually be $15, we don't remember. Only one way to find out!
Crowded on weekends? - whooo, child....that seems to be the calling card for this place, which gets crowded, steamy, sweaty, and grope-y most Thu-Sat nights. Apparently, this is the main attraction for most of Mehanata's clientele, so dress accordingly.
Seating - downright dearthy.
Neighborhood - the tail-end of the LES strip. Across the street from the cheapest parking garage in the LES.
Type of crowd - so this place regularly stays open well past 4:00am, and you don't even have to know somebody who knows somebody to enjoy this. Just get there before 4 and kick it like Taebo till your legs give out.
Pretentious/assholes - generally yes, but they're usually outnumbered by the weirdos and the Sergei's who consider this place homeplate.
Cost of Stella - only have it in bottles here, but it'll still run you the neighborhood-standard $6.
What time people start showing up - some at 11:30ish, some at 3:58ish.
Bartender efficiency - bartenders here are mostly female and mostly wavy. They're also almost uniformly hard-assish, but they still get it in.
Official Website - here. Flashy, but not terribly substantive. However, they have a somewhat extensive photo & video gallery, so don't think you can just creep-creep off in here with your jump-off and not risk catching some trials and tribulations from wifey/hubby.
Food? How late - not saying this place is grimey, but Visceralist has peeked in the employees-only back room and though they don't technically serve food here, in some ways even the ice cubes could probably be considered, um, fortified. [ed. j/k]
TVs? What's on - no, but Hulu has an iPhone app coming soon so just hold on.
Guy:girl ratio - 50:50 and the tube-tops be poppin!
Toys - this place is so visually arresting in so many ways that you'll be plenty distracted w/o a pool table, dart board or n'er none of that shit.
Age of clientele - veers 30ish, though SVA's dorms are now right next door so this could soon change, with sexy results....
Space for dancing? - street-level floor: not really, but that doesn't stop anyone. Downstairs: plenty of room cuz the neon light overdose is apparently a turnoff, so feel free to let your leg get as stanky as it needs to be!
Décor - fake palm trees, wood-grain, disco ball, strobe lights....basically what a Bulgarian-American would think a Bulgarian bar would look like having never even visited the old country.
Grimeyness - charming enough to make you not really care about it.
ID check procedure Historical tidbit - this place used to be an S&M/goth club called SeHo.
Music medium, style & volume
- music is (a) often loud as shit and (b) supplied by a real-life Oompa-Loompa band. If you're as drunk as you should be while here, it'll totally make sense.
Specials or most popular drink - $2 Recession Wine.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Back Room

102 Norfolk St.
New York, NY 10002
(212) 228-5098

Bathroom situation
- two back around the corner from the bar and two more in the upstairsy, loungey area. All are surprisingly pedestrian given that this spot's chandelier-game is at an all-time high.
Takes credit cards? - yes, but the minimum is just downright unfortunate. It's like $30 or something. This place gets a lot of mileage out of that damn chandelier.
Crowded on weekends? - yes, be prepared for standing-room only. And ladies, don't think a gent will offer you his seat just cuz of the speakeasy vibe and the fuckin chandelier. Wear only your most comfortable high-heel Uggs.
Seating - only about 10 stools at the bar, but they gots a gang of Agatha Christie-style chaises and davenports in the lounge. And a fucking wooden globe. And yes they did do a sliding bat-cave style bookcase. Colonel Mustard, watch your back and your candlestick!
Neighborhood - the justifyably-overlooked part of the SW LES. Really, it's just this place, Nurse Bettie & The Delancey.
Type of crowd - this seems like a good point to address the supposedly-secret nature of this place. Basically, its door isn't on the street. There's a short gate two buildings south of Nurse Bettie that usually has a doorman standing outside of it (it'll look awkard, so you'll see it). He'll let you in if (a) you got a few you-know-the-type chicks with you, (b) you look either LES-cool or UES-rich or (c) on rare occasions if you can get your friends who are already there to come out and vouch for you. You then go through the gate, down some stairs, through an alley, up some more stairs and knock at the door which has a sly peephole. Honestly, it's only marginally worth the hassle. And really only once.
Pretentious/assholes - Hard to say. The Back Room is years past its on-the-low, cool-kids prime so the clientele is (presumably) a lot more diverse than it used to be. Still, you know how Johnny-Come-Latelys be [ed. I don't know how all these hyphens be].
Cost of Stella - no recuerdo. While we're on the topic tho, they serve cocktails in tea-cups here which is good and quaint, but prolly also a certified screwjob.
What time people start showing up - 11ish. How hot is The Kickdrums "Just a Game" btw?
Bartender efficiency - the seats in the lounge are usually reserved latenight, but the cocktail waitresses [ed. that term is so Mad Men] that handle that area are especially on point which is a breath of that fresh. The actual bar-tenders, however, are fairly excellent. This place is usually well-staffed too. Overcompensating for the overprices? Maybe, but fuck it...
Official Website - nathan.
Food? How late - no. Even checked the tea Willy Wonka.
TVs? What's on - this is really more of an ambiance place and they do it really well, so a TV here would be be blasphemous even if you were a non-practicing Cthuluan.
Guy:girl ratio - considering this place caters mainly to young ladies and those who tolerate them in order to be with them, if you are a single dude and do manage to sneak your little poop-butt up in here, you'll immediately be shown the door.
Toys - if you haven't brought any stimulating conversation with you in your fanny pack, you're out of luck. Unless you brought coke.
Age of clientele - think we've been over this. Oddly, this place strikes Visceralist as the last place you'd feel obligated to wear a sports-coat or blazer to, but apparently we're wrong. Dead wrong.
Space for dancing? - Visceralist was considering deleting this category out of concern for those who might be embarrassed by us highlighting the fact that this crowd is the least-dancingest, most-standingest...seriously, the electric slide or even a jumping jack would bring out the inner wallflower in this joint's entire history of clientele. SMFH.
Décor - classy. Like, even past Trump-classy.
Grimeyness - the bathrooms are somewhat in keeping with the neighborhood's ethos, but the rest of this place is relatively immaculate.
ID check procedure - booty-check procedure, more like.
Music medium, style & volume
- yikes, you've officially caught Visceralist with our pants firmly down at our ankles and our wallet peeking partially out of the back pocket. Dang. There's no juke here, it's likely PA/iPod, but we honestly can't remember what type of ish they play.
Specials or most popular drink - specials/happy hours seriously unlikely. Visceralist is reminded of those unbearable statements like "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." Cunts.

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