Depending on the day, one can select from such delicious chicken choices as the classic Southern style, Buffalo, Wasabi or even one stuffed with cheese. Although simple, our team opted for the grilled chicken with both Wasabi mayo and a spicy cilantro dip - a perfect crowd pleaser. When chatting with John, one of the owners, he explained that he and his partner believed that this was the thing people wanted. "Everyone's a foodie in New York," he said, "but no one tried to approach such an American favorite as chicken fingers in this gourmet fashion." And that is what they do best here: gourmet food and sticky fingers.
“We are one of the oldest gay bars in the city,” said Helen Burford. The owner of Julius’ considers it an honor to be a part of this history and to allow others to share in it. Many who stop by are keen to dip their toes into an earlier, more troublesome period. “We are a good reminder of the struggles people went through for those of us today.”What better way for young men and women to learn about landmark events like the renowned “Sip-In,” where gay activists challenged New York’s prohibitions on gay bars? The patrons who have been frequenting Julius’ for decades are happy to provide a history lesson. Every day around 4 p.m., they sit in a corner and share stories of what it was like back in the day. “This is their home. To them, Julius’ is not a bar — rain or shine, they need to be here.” The old group, now in their seventies and eighties, enjoy having a drink and chatting with one another, but they also invite “guests” into the conversation — passing the baton, as this is their legacy. “They are always trying to bring young people into the fold,” Helen commented.
Strip House has an ample amount of real estate on 12th Street, both upstairs and down, in their second venture in Manhattan. Decorated in a deep, passion-red décor, the walls are lined with 1930's burlesque photographs, while white-jacketed waiters serve the vast array of steaks offered -- including a 22oz rib eye, filet mignon, chateaubriand, porterhouse, or our city's eponymous New York strip. My husband's request is always a filet charred on the outside and medium inside, and that is exactly how he got it. As I have noted in the past, I am a fan of the side dishes at these glorious steak houses, and, once again, I was delighted with those that we ordered for the table, including my favorite, creamed spinach.
Bell Book and Candle has a rooftop garden where much of their vegetables and herbs are grown, and there is also a “secret” dining area upstairs during the warmer weather months. Our dinner in the springtime offered food that was prepared with all of the freshness one could ask. Each of the ingredients in the different salads and the entire vegetable platter that we shared were creative and reminded us that eating straight from the garden provides a totally different and pleasurable culinary experience. When our meal was being served, my clever husband chimed in to recite the incantation to our friends and waiter - "ring the bell, open the book, light the candle." It was when we were leaving, though, that he caught all of our attention, once again piping in with a smile, "ring the bell, close the book, snuff the candle." We all laughed, applauded him, and left, having had a bewitching evening.
What a find...down a flight of stairs from street level on 8th Street, Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor is the "antithesis of a sports bar." Artisan and craft beer are brought together in a friendly environment that certainly had us feeling like we were right at home. The Parlor is also named for the Arts and Crafts movement, “a cultural revolt against the ideals of industrialization.”When we visited, we spoke to Robert, one of the two owners, with whom we thoroughly enjoyed chatting. Robert is an internationally recognized speaker and writer on dining out and traveling with special diets (he co-authored the series Let’s Eat Out!), and he also has a background in acting and producing on Broadway. He told us that the other owner, Don, has an impressive resume working with the FBI and counterterrorism efforts both in New York and around the world - which left us wondering what brought this dynamic duo together as friends and eventually co-owners. Robert informed us it was a love of American Craft Beer and the visual and performing arts...and that they actually met enjoying a pint of beer in Manhattan.Just as intriguing as its owners, the interior of Arts and Crafts is beautifully designed; the sophisticated wallpaper is custom made by Bradbury and Bradbury, and the soft green and beige pattern was Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite, supposedly. The constantly changing art is displayed along the wall opposite the bar, and an exposed brick wall and fireplace give the parlor a true “extension of your living room” feel. Described by Robert, as the “Bugatti of beer systems,” the twenty plus beers the Parlor keeps on tap rotate monthly and are kept by this state of the art system at a refreshing 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Robert also astounded us with how small the carbon footprint of the Parlor is — he told us they are very conscious of keeping things compostable and earth-friendly. In addition to their rotating display of art from both established and up-and-coming artists, the Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor also hosts a monthly lecture series on the subjects of art as well as culinary topics. We could not get enough of how interesting this place is — both the concept of art and beer coming together and the two fascinating minds behind it.
Warhammer is the retail branch of an online British company that has been providing its unique gaming service for thirty years. The 8th Street location is New York's hotspot for miniature table-top war gaming. Eager workers will walk customers through every step - how to assemble the models, paint the pieces, and how to play the game itself. It takes a certain kind of patience and skill set to contract one's army and may appeal to a customer who enjoys strategy games such as chess. While it is recommended that kids begin learning the game at age twelve, we met a half a dozen men from ages eighteen to fifty who were sitting around the large table, chatting and toiling away on their magnificently detailed pieces.
Over many months, we had the pleasure of observing the construction of Amelie through each stage of its creation. To experience the ambience of this spectacular bar and restaurant alone is worth the visit...but then there is also the impressive wine list and a full French menu. The award-winning team behind Amelie in San Francisco opened their east coast wine bar in early 2012 and all we can say is tres delicieux.
Coffee tends to be a grab-and-go phenomenon here in Manhattan – the coffee break does not generally get its due respect. Here to change that completely, Stumptown’s 8th Street location elevates the coffee shop experience to a level unseen by most caffeine-addicted New Yorkers. I only know this because Jared, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, is one of them. The double-height ceilings, large windows, and carved wood façade of the corner store actually used to house the historic 8th Street Books. The interior of the building has been meticulously and beautifully renovated to include an enormous wooden bar, coffered ceiling, warm herringbone floors, exposed brick walls and numerous small clusters of tables, chairs and benches. The store is divided between the intimate café area and a brew bar - a coffee exposition/educational space where baristas can engage customers in learning about different methods of making coffee and the various types of coffee beans. The brew bar has at least five different types of machines and manual brewers running at the same time with a lovely, knowledgable staff orchestrating all of it. Stumptown endeavors to build a community out of our many, rushed coffee drinkers, creating a perfect setting for relaxing and reading, or for someone to simply become better educated about coffee.