Barclays Strikes Again: The Montrose

06/04/2014 4:00 AM |

The Montrose
47 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope

The duke is dead! Long live… his dukedom? The Duke of Montrose opened almost a year ago, a sister bar to Isle of Skye in Williamsburg and daughter to Caledonia on the Upper East Side, together a trio of Scottish pubs with serveral styles of Belhaven on tap and an impossibly thorough selection of Scotch, almost 200 bottles from every region across the land of Robert Burns and William Wallace. But the owners picked the wrong spot in Park Slope for their last outpost: two short blocks from the Barclays Center, from which streamed throngs of thirsty postgamers, too many of whom were put off by the hyperspecialized menu. So, not unlike O’Connor’s before it—the dive bar a block away that was shut down, retooled and recently reborn as the unrecognizable but arena-friendly McMahon’s Public House—the owners reworked it: they replaced most of the Scotch with a full, familiar offering of Bombay Sapphire, Stoli, Captain Morgan, etc.; they lost the Belhaven for craft brews like the Bronx, Brooklyn and Bell’s; and they scrapped the “Duke,” reemerging as the Montrose—just the Montrose.

The owners retained the black-stone aesthetic that the bar shares with its North Brooklyn sibling, and its wood ceiling is awesome, textured as though assembled from extra-large Lego blocks. The bartender was very friendly, offering enthusiastic, unsolicited but helpful (if unheeded) recommendations, and on a recent humid and blustery evening—just in time for the tail end of a reasonably priced happy hour—the almost-floor-to-ceiling windows of the corner spot had been tossed wide open, a blessedly cool breeze sweeping across the room.

So, this is a nice little spot, bearable post-Barclays (with a row of five flatscreens above the bar all tuned to sports) and kinda lovely before the sun sets on off-game nights in spring. But it still seems a shame that the Duke of Montrose didn’t open several blocks farther down Fifth Avenue, outside of the Mandated Barclays-Friendly Zone. A specialty Scotch bar would’ve been a nice addition to the neighborhood; “yet another flatscreen-and-Sixpoint joint,” as one blog commenter called it, less so, as they’re ubiquitous along Fifth Avenue, from the arena to the cemetery. You can’t really fault the owners for trying to repair their flawed model to save the business. But you can blame that damn arena for claiming another victim.