Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Chumley's - New York, NY

The reviews I'd read about Chumley's mentioned that it was a former speakeasy, that the original entrance is hidden but they later added a new one that is more obvious. Armed with this knowledge, as well as the bar's basic location, Vicky and I set out to check this place out. That, however, turned out to be easier said than done; we walked around the block twice until we happened to see a group of thirtysomethings walking through an unmarked door into a random courtyard. We followed, through the courtyard and through another barely-marked door (fortunately, this one had the name of the bar written on a piece of paper taped to the door), into the bar.

What met our eyes was definitely an unexpected sight. The bar was fairly spacious, with interesting portraits and documents from over the years covering the walls. The bar wall was lined with taps, all Chumley's own beers it seemed. Also surprising was how full the place was. We had chosen to start our evening very early -- this was about 5 or 5:30 PM -- but the bar was packed! A very diverse mix of ages, but mostly centering around mid-40s to early-50s. But then I realized that the place was actually as much restaurant as bar. Perhaps everyone was just hanging out in the bar while waiting for a table? I didn't end up staying long enough to find out; more about that in a bit.

The place is laid out in an interesting way. Coming in from the main door, on your right is the kitchen; in front of you is the main bar; and on the left is restaurant seating. This led to a bit of a problem where the waiters and busboys had to push through the bar crowd in order to get food back and forth. This would be okay if there were few people in the bar, but we were constantly having to move for servers carrying trays of food.

My other problem with the bar was the prices. I'm usually not one to complain about the price of a drink, but $7 for a beer seemed excessive, especially considering the fact that their house beers (and the house cider as well) were rather weak. It would have taken more money than I had with me to get drunk at this place.

I really wanted to like Chumley's. I love the whole secret Prohibition speakeasy thing, secret entrances, etc. The bar experience just didn't live up to the gimmick. Now, Vicky's argument was that we did go early in the day; and maybe at night, once it's past dinner time, it's less annoying. However, everything I've read about the place says that the atmosphere actually gets much worse on weekend nights when NYU students venture out of their dorms for the night. I personally think it'd be more likely to be better on a weeknight, but that's of course just more speculation.

In closing, I think that there are people who will like this place. People not worrying about money, people who don't mind being crowded in somewhere, etc. Plus for all I know, the food could be out of this world. I mean it certainly looked good going past me. But it definitely wasn't my scene, and I most likely won't be returning.

86 Bedford Street (West Village)
New York, NY
(212) 675-4449


Blogger Vicky said...

Yeah, I pretty much agree with everything here, but I'm having a hard time admitting it. I really wanted that place to be awesome. I thought maybe if we came at a different time things would be different, but it's probably just not going to be true. I might see if I can get Keith to go with me. It just had so much potential. I was disappointed.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 12:38:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

We could head up that way at some point tomorrow evening if you really want. I mean we won't be right there, but we'll be somewhat in the area.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 12:38:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home