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Crompton Ale House

Opening Hours
Today: 11am–2am
Thurs:
11am–2am
Fri:
11am–2am
Sat:
11am–2am
Sun:
11am–2am
Mon:
11am–2am
Tues:
11am–2am
Location
159 West 26th Street
Crompton Ale House 1 American Bars Brunch Chelsea Flower District Tenderloin

The Crompton Ale House is the perfect example of a bar that has embraced its surroundings. Right in the middle of the fashion district, the bar is named for Samuel Crompton, the man who invented the sewing machine. The spacious bar is decorated with bobbins and gears to make it seem like visitors are socializing inside a giant sewing machine. Jimmy, one of the owners of the bar, explained that he and his partners brought in a designer to create the unique atmosphere. “We even had threads up on the spools,” he said, pointing at the wall ornaments, “But they were gathering dust – perhaps we’ll put them back up for Halloween.”

I was speaking with him only a short time after the bar had opened in 2015. Jimmy, who also owns the bars O’Donoghue’s and Genesis, was not quite sure what the bar would become, but he was already excited by the crowds that had arrived. He sees the area as an up-and-coming neighborhood, and has been delighted to meet a lot of locals, which is a change from the tourist-heavy crowds that he experiences in Times Square. With a happy hour from 4pm-7pm on weekdays, the bar draws in a solid after-work crowd.

It is not surprising that people are gravitating to the Ale House, with people like Jimmy at the helm. Like many other Irishmen, Jimmy grew up working in a bar. He had his first job filling pints at the age of seventeen. He went on to reminisce how “There were no cocktails – just pints," but then stated, "It’s changing all the time.” He told me how at Crompton he is serving local and seasonal beers, in order to keep up with what people are drinking. He was especially proud of the special beer of the house, Crompton Ale, an IPA from upstate New York. According to Jimmy, however, the real reason for the bar’s early success is “the standard of service and the quality of food.”

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Crompton Ale House 1 American Bars Brunch Chelsea Flower District Tenderloin
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Crompton Ale House 8 American Bars Brunch Chelsea Flower District Tenderloin

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Walking into the Harold, a casual bistro located in the heart of Herald Square, I immediately noticed its warm, welcoming atmosphere. A family of tourists in shorts and sneakers munched happily on burgers while business men in suits chatted at the bar. I even witnessed something that I hardly ever see - several young people throughout the multi-level space feeling comfortable enough to dine alone. When I spoke to Angelo, the Harold’s friendly young manager, I commented on the restaurant’s ability to attract people from all walks of life. “I’m glad you noticed, ” he said, and explained that the Harold’s proximity to Penn Station makes it a hub for tourists and commuters as well as locals. They certainly do their best to create an environment where one can either sit down at the bar, dine at their own table, or seat themselves at the central communal table and feel relaxed. As Angelo showed me around the Harold’s spacious main floor, I asked him how they had come up with the name. “We started out as ‘The Herald, ’ for Herald Square, but then we realized that it was a pretty common name in the area. ” To differentiate the bistro from other businesses nearby, they renamed it “The Harold. ”By the time the restaurant opened its doors in July of 2014, “Harold” had evolved into a character in his own right, a well-traveled 1920s gentleman whose traveling hat inspired the restaurant’s logo and décor. As we walked up to the mezzanine, where private events and parties are often held, Angelo pointed out Harold’s antique luggage, which is covered in old stickers and stamps. Taking a seat at the bar, the Manhattan Sideways team was treated to some specialty cocktails. I particularly enjoyed the “Strawberry Fields, ” made with vodka, lemon juice, strawberry puree, and prosecco. I also tasted the fruity rosé sangria (the recipe is a secret). Other members of the Manhattan Sideways team were fans of the refreshing “New Go-To, ” made with organic cucumber vodka, fresh lime juice, St. Germain, and pineapple juice, the New York Sour, and the restaurant’s signature “Harold, ” complete with gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon, basil, and topped off with prosecco. As we sipped our drinks, I admired the impressive seafood royale platter that the customer next to us had ordered. When Angelo returned to the bar, I asked him about the Harold’s menu. “It’s not very large, ” he told me, “but we have something for everyone. ” He emphasized the chef’s use of local and seasonal ingredients. When questioned about his favorite menu item, Angelo's eyes lit up. “Definitely the six ounce burger topped with grilled onions, New York cheddar, and applewood smoked bacon. ” Tempted by one of my favorites, the soft, fresh burrata, I happily had a taste and then went on to try the beet salad, which was garnished with spicy micro greens and an exotic black garlic marinated in molasses. Others dipped their forks into the blackened salmon, and crispy fish and chips. The Harold also has a vibrant breakfast crowd during the week where eggs take center stage. Yes, the food and the drink are quite good, but it is still The Harold's welcoming, inclusive atmosphere that grabbed my attention from the moment I stepped inside. In Angelo’s words, “We don’t care if people are wearing suits or jeans and t-shirts - we just want them to come and enjoy good food and cocktails, ” and, I might add, an eclectic mix of great people.