Beer, Cheese, Onions, Takeout!
The Phenomenon Ordering in to bars
The Bars McSorley's, O'Connor's
So the other day as I was reading the Joseph Mitchell essay “McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon,” (a literacy requirement for NYC drunks) I had a realization. It used to be that when you went into a proper drinking establishment, you had the option of purchasing a selection of wonderfully alcohol-absorbent comestibles right there in the bar. And not like today’s restobars, either, with the separate-drinking-up-front-eating-in back-no-you-can’t-sit-for-just-drinks business. Back in the day it was expected that any fully equipped drinkery would have a cook on hand to whip up some chipped hash or whatever it was people ate back then. “McSorley’s” drove home to me the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in, foodwise, especially when compared with those lucky suckers across the pond.
The UK has preserved the glorious tradition of proper pub food (note that proper is not necessarily a synonym for good). Here, though, your choices are a sleek, poncy restaurant with a douchebag-infested drinking area and the option of appetizers at the bar or a pathetic rack of 50¢ chips that’ve been moldering behind the counter since Prohibition. Establishments serving decent grub to customers whose primary purpose is to drink seem to have become extinct. Except for McSorley’s of course, which… good luck fighting those crowds. Since they started allowing women through the door you’re lucky to be able to wrest a pint, never mind beefsteak.
It took a dinnertime trip to O’Connor’s for me to realize that we’ve developed a modern-day equivalent of the pub cook: takeout. Most bars will let you order in food from neighboring take-out places, and some will even provide you with menus and suggestions. To me this actually trumps Mitchell’s version: it allows for scurvy-preventing variety without requiring your drunk ass to change bars. Since the only people who read this column are winos looking for something to assuage the terrible ache of drinking alone, here are some phone numbers I thought you might like to have:
Famous Original Ray’s on Houston: 212-254-8558
Bedouin Tent: 718-852-5555
Yummy Taco: 718-623-0867
El Loco Burrito II: 718-782-7728