Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bar Milano, Gramercy Park Rooftop Bar, Little Branch... or not

Last night I went out with one of my friends from work. We had several places we wanted to hit over the course of the evening, so we had to plan accordingly. The first scheduled destination was the rooftop bar of the Gramercy Park Hotel; I did a little bit of recon (as always) and found out that the drinks there hovered around the $20 mark, so I determined we needed a place to pregame beforehand. My friend agreed.

I chose Bar Milano, because it's in the neighborhood, it's new, and it's a wine bar, which I love. We met up there and found the place packed (not surprisingly). But hey, we were there, and we gamely crunched ourselves up next to the communal table in the bar area and attempted to flag down a waitress. About ten minutes later we placed our drink orders; ten more minutes passed before we received them, but we were just there to chat and catch up, so neither of us minded too much.

I didn't get much of a chance to scope out the place, as we were in the bar area (which is separated from the rest of the restaurant) and there were bodies every which way blocking the view. The one thing I did note was that they had lovely, lovely glassware. I must admit, I'm a huge sucker for good glassware. It's sort of ridiculous, but all wine tastes better to me if it's in a big, beautiful, delicate glass. Don't get me wrong-- I've drunk the odd glass of wine (and champagne, cringe) out of a plastic cup, but I do love me some good glassware. My lovely companion chose a nice prosecco, and I choose a soave, both of which were good (and on the lower end of the somewhat pricey by-the-glass menu). Curiously, they were served in the same type of large open-bowl glasses-- which was delightful for me but a bit suspect for a sparkler like prosecco. I stole glances at the food circling around the room; it all looked like small plates, and most looked pretty good, but honestly I can't imagine what the people sitting down went through to get a table. Overall, we had a good time at Bar Milano, but I'm not sure if I would go out of my way to go back there-- one of my favorite things about wine bars is the cozy sitting-down and settling-in aspect, which was clearly lacking here. If I were in the neighborhood, though, I wouldn't object to returning.

We left Bar Milano and walked the few blocks to the Gramercy Park Hotel. We cruised right up to the rooftop bar, which apparently is something that's not supposed to happen, as the bar is reserved for hotel guests and should require a key to get the elevator to stop on the top floor... In any case, we found ourselves in a bizarre greenhouse-like area with a mixture of wicker furniture and posh couches. It was a little bit local-garden-center-meets-boudoir, not an entirely cohesive scheme, but my guess is people weren't there for the decor. Everyone working there was clearly a model, especially the towering gazelle-like blonde who was our waitress. My friend and I spend a bit of time with the party there, declining any drinks and the accompanying collateral loan they would necessitate, and then moved on to our third destination: Little Branch.

We were supposed to meet up with another friend from work there, and when we arrived she and her friends were waiting in line outside the barely-marked door. Now, there's something I should get out in the open here: I am perhaps the world's least patient person, and waiting in line-- especially, ESPECIALLY at bars/clubs-- is one of my least favorite activities in the entire world. With bars, clubs, bouncers, etc., my philosophy is: we're in New York, there are approximately forty other fun drinking establishments within a three-block radius, so WHY are we WASTING TIME standing OUTSIDE IN THE COLD while someone judges us not cool enough to be inside??? This is a bit of a touchy subject for me, as you can tell. Anyway, we spent a few minutes waiting outside Little Branch while people came and went and the bouncer selectively let other people in (not us). And then, essentially, my buzzer went off, and that was it-- no more patience, time to go home. I bid my goodbyes, hailed a cab, and went home to a nice long and satisfying sleep.

Moral of the story: I didn't actually go to Little Branch, so I can't "review" it per se, but God willing I will never be going back. I truly hate places like that-- life is too short for that much attitude. Plus, apparently my friends did eventually make it in, and the feedback is the place "ended up sucking, like a lot." So sorry I missed it! If I end up getting more detailed stories I'll report back, but in the meantime, time to wind down the weekend and prepare for the workweek ahead...

Happy Sunday, everyone!

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