477 Fifth Ave, Park Slope
The bar is long and dark, with only storefront windows facing the street. The walls are littered with framed 70s-era kitsch—here some needlework, there a backlit photo of cows—and crepe paper clings to the wainscoting as if a long-ago birthday party had never been cleaned up. There are two lonely pinball machines, and several lone males drinking bottles of Corona or cans of Tecate at the barstools. This clientele recalls Timboo’s, the bar that had occupied the space for more than 40 years, before new owners opened Skylark here earlier this spring. In many ways, nothing has changed.
You get the sense that whoever designed the décor of Skylark had an attachment to his or her grandparent’s basement den. “Sleek” is about the last thing you could call it, with salvaged couches with floral prints and pub light fixtures—all mismatched, of course. The retro-drab touches are part of the bar’s supposed update to post-millennium hipness, in an age where Park Slope’s blue-collar residents and dingy shops have been increasingly replaced with well-heeled families and boutiques. Fifth Avenue happens to be a divey-ish strip, with old standbys like The Gate and sports bars interspersed with expensive eateries like Stone Park Cafe. But it’s hard to tell whether Skylark, oddly quiet on a recent Friday night, will make the cut with newer locals while it appeals to the old.
Best to stick with the simplest of the fruity cocktails, such as the Chavelle, with Beefeater Gin, St. Germain and fresh lemon juice ($10). Skip the watery, sugary Barracuda, with rum, simple syrup, lime juice and seltzer ($8), unless it’s a very hot day and you need a soda. The beer list is dominated with craft American lagers, such as Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold, with a healthy list of cheap cans and bottles, such as Tecate ($3). The “beer specials” menu features some lowbrow twists, such as the Manmosa (Allagash White with fresh OJ, $6) and shot-and-can combos.
Pressed sandwiches come in a basket with a side for about $10 each, if you’re feeling snacky. A “French Onion Soup” panini has caramelized onion jam glued between bread slices with oozing Swiss cheese. It, like the coleslaw and potato salad, is desperately seeking seasoning. Fortunately, the bartender shoved a shot glass of brick-red sludge my way at the bar without any instigation—their homemade Bloody Mary mix, which she suggested dipping the sandwich in. Thick with horseradish and Worcestershire sauce, it helped, and the staff overall are friendly and unpretentious. Just like the good old days.