On Tuesday night, I, like everyone else in Manhattan, was out celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. It was difficult to find a bar that was bearable (i.e., not too loud, cramped or smelly), but on our third try Doug and I finally ended up at Barfly on 20th and 3rd. Since it’s so close to the Gramercy block I call home, I had already been there a few times with visiting family and friends for a quick dinner (I don’t really recommend the paninis), and I’m sure it’ll come as no shock to you that it’s never been busier as it was Tuesday night.
By act of God, Doug and I were able to score two seats at the bar (maybe it had something to do with the fact that no one wanted to sit next to the “intimate” couple), and soon after we strategically took over another seat for my soon-to-arrive friend. We enjoyed a round of Miller Lite at the bar where we came upon two great discoveries: Miller Lite pints are only $3.50 (this is not a special, it’s the regular price) and the minimum for opening a tab is only $10. We were off to a good start.
After Doug stalked a table, we eventually moved over to a booth. I needed to close out my tab at the bar, so to make it to the $10 minimum I ordered a better quality drink. Without looking at a menu or asking for prices, I ordered a Blue Moon. Much to my dismay with the bill, I realized that Blue Moon drafts cost $6. Now that’s not surprising at any normal bar, but when Miller Lite drafts cost only $3.50, I was expecting a lower-than-usual price for my Blue Moon as well. I was duped.
We waited for Abi to arrive and ordered dinner (although that was pointless because she didn’t eat, so much for manners). In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day and my ancestors, I ordered a corned beef sandwich with fries from the special St. Patrick’s Day menu for $12 ($2 extra for the fries). After determining that cheese fries weren’t substantive enough to qualify as “dinner,” Doug made the ever-so-wise and drastic decision to order mozzarella sticks… And all three of us split a pitcher of Miller Lite for a mere $12 total.
Although I used to hate eating corned beef and cabbage at St. Patrick’s Day as a kid, I thoroughly enjoyed my sandwich. The meat wasn’t too salty, chewy or stringy, actually it was quite flavorful, and the spicy mustard on the side gave it a nice kick. The fries were good and pretty standard, nothing much to comment on there. Perhaps Doug has an opinion since he tried them. The sandwich was so big that I was able to save half for lunch the next day, making the average price of two resulting meals only $6. And I must take a moment to recognize the perfect pickle that accompanied my dinner. It was just the way I like it – fresh, sour and crisp.
Guest Post by Doug Feingold, Columbia Correspondent
After having a few of those cheap Miller Lites, I was in the mood for an app, and not a larger meal. I quickly noticed the chicken fingers on the menu, one of my favorites, but since it was on the St. Patrick’s Day special menu, I was quickly turned off. I once ordered the chicken fingers in a restaurant I’m pretty sure was Irish (it may have just been the waitress, I can’t be sure) and they were not good at all. Thus, while Barfly itself wasn’t an Irish establishment, I couldn’t allow myself to pull the trigger on their holiday menu. The cheese fries sounded delicious (and I confirmed they looked just as I imagined when I caught a glimpse of them later in the night while in the bathroom line), but as Caryn mentioned, I could not just eat fries for dinner. So I took a non-traditional route, for me anyway, and went with the mozzarella sticks.
I don’t normally order mozzarella sticks because most places don’t make them the way I prefer. I find that the breading often falls off easily, and that it takes a steak knife to cut through the cheese because it is so thick. However, I was pleasantly surprised with this order. The waitress had promised me at least six, so when she gave me a basket of what was around eight or nine, I knew I was in for at least a filling meal. My first bite subsided my fears – the stick held strong and the crumbs remained consistently around the cheese throughout the chew. It was also wide enough to maintain a good amount of dipping sauce on the journey from basket to mouth ( I can’t stand when mozzarella sticks are so thin that you are forced to rely on them soaking up sauce to get some extra flavor – the goal is to dip, not marinate). The cheese also was not too thick. Caryn was able to easily cut off a half for herself with just a fork. Overall, I was pretty full and thoroughly enjoyed my meal. They were very tasty with just the right amount of cheese.
With what room I had left, I dove into Caryn’s fries. They were the short, thin kind that somehow pack a ton of flavor and salt into the small base. I like this kind because I’m not overwhelmed with potato taste, yet they still deliver the flavor. Unfortunately, they were a bit cold by the time I ate them, but they were still very soft and a great way to conclude my meal.
All in all, I really enjoyed Barfly. While I live nowhere near the place, I’m willing to travel just for the beer prices, and to know they can make a quality appetizer to match just makes the draw much stronger.The Basics Name: Barfly Location: 244 Third Avenue at 20th Street Who to bring: Co-workers, Friends, Family Price: Even a homeless man can afford to get tipsy. $ Overall: Â Put it into the rotation. 4 Stars.