Thursday, February 24, 2005
Best Late-Night Dining Destination, Every Now and Then
So, the Marriage of Figaro let out right around midnight and food had to be found. Back in the day (the Chicago day), the thing to do after rock shows was head to Denny's as it was one of the only places that would still be open and it sort of was just the rule, to go to Denny's where the kids-just-getting-back-from-the-Mighty-Mighty-Bosstones-show crowd mingled freely with the burnouts-who-were-always-at-Denny's crowd . . . I know I don't have to explain this too thoroughly as it's pretty much a universal truth, from Burbank, CA to Newark, NJ. But in present-day New York City, where does one grab a decent bite after midnight and maybe comingle with their peers? Obviously, there are many, many options, mostly so-so diners, but I decided we ought to visit Schiller's Liquor Bar, which, if we're all honest and clever about it, is pretty much the Denny's of the Lower East Side. Let me explain.
A self-described "low life bar and restaurant", Schiller's, as it is on Rivington Street, attracts a great number of cool folk at all hours of the day . . . from breakfast 'till late into the night. Arriving at around 12:30, the place was as hectic as the Denny's on Harlem would have been on such a night 10 years ago, with rambunctious carousers at the bar (yes, yes, I know, Denny's doesn't have a bar--but for more on that, see below), boisterous tables full of friends, and solitary diners dining alone. The joint exudes a neighborhood-hang out vibe along with a destination restaurant air and is, indisbutably, a fun place to visit any hour of the day. Much like Denny's, I've never had a meal at Schiller's that was really worth raving about, yet I've never been served anything I'd turn my nose up at either. Schiller's, not too much unlike your Planet Hollywoods and Rain Forest Cafes (what a horrible comparison I'm drawing here), is a restaurant where the atmosphere and experience of being there truly outweighs the meal itself. (And, considering Schiller's prime location and heavily coordinated decor and the fact that it's one of several popular restaurants in a fairly similar vein by a single restauranteur, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch for a real snob to call Schiller's a hipster-themed restaurant). So, yeah, if you want to get fed and have a fun time, and it's late or early or whatever, Schiller's is a decent destination for sure.
Clearly that photo above wasn't taken Friday night. You're a real detective for figuring that out.
Once in College this guy had written a short story about two buddies who meet at a Denny's and one of them orders a beer and it bugged me so much because I was just certain Denny's didn't serve alcohol. I was desperate to call him on it, but just wasn't 100% certain that you couldn't get a beer at Denny's, so I took it upon myself to find out if such beverages could be had at Denny's, but now I can't remember what results my research yielded. I'm pretty sure it was a "no" on the cervesas. It may have been a good story that the kid wrote, I don't know, all I could do was obsess over the beer at Denny's.
Here's a little history lesson. The first time I went to Schiller's was with Mike Lemmon for a power brunch to discuss this idea for a website I had had where I would write about whatever and post pictures of things I had done and everything. The website was to be called "brigster" and the main page was to resemble my Friendster profile, except it would say "brigster" in the corner. Anyway, as part of the power brunch I had prepared a graph, seen here, charting "Brigham's Interest and Output" [the pink line], "Brigham's Actual Ability" to produce that content [a dotted pink line that I don't think I actually put on the graph], "Mike's Interest, Ability, etc." [the blue line] to assist in the computer side of getting brigster going, and "Brigham's Time Available" [the green line] on a Amounts (high/low) vs. Time (now/later) grid. While brigster never got off the ground (but, in a certain sense, it was remarkably close to being a reality), it seems I have found a way to get onto the internet. Also, at the power brunch, Mike had an egg cream.
Posted by Brigham at 12:32 PM