Monday, August 10, 2015

The Antisocial Man's Bar Reviews: Brick and Brew

The Space
The area is quite unique and actually quite charming. The exterior is all brick and stonework. on the inside, every surface seems to serve a function, but it retains a level of rusticness. The walls are filled with shelves or function as chalkboards to write the specials on. There is about a ten seat bar area, a six-seat bar area to observe the pizza oven and kitchen, four or five high tops, a booth area that can probably fit about twelve, as well as outdoor sidewalk seating to accommodate another fifteen to twenty. Including standing room, this place could hold between 75-100 guests. The lights are rustic and a few even use cut absinthe bottles as shades. There is a good deal of wood and exposed brick naturally. It's a warm and homey space with quite a few corners to allow privacy and quite, but a big enough main area to meet some new people. 

Service
The servers are very casual and friendly. This is not a fine dining atmosphere where everyone is extra formal, calling you sir. I like that. When the have time the staff will remember you. The place really can of a victim of its own success. On busy days, they are really busy. I've heard of guests waiting ages and receiving burnt food. It does really fill up and sometimes it can be difficult to get anyone's full attention. You can see the frantic look in their eyes. The other thing is that while much of the staff is very well trained, this is not the city. These guys are very familiar with the service industry and most have worked in it for years but certainly not all of them in high-volume, craft environments. Often times they'll need to check with someone when asked a question and the drink recipes are somewhat inconsistent. They are very friendly and when you go in during the day they are very aware of what you're looking for in terms of service and are very accommodating. 

Drink
Ther first thing you see when you walk in the door is the shelves upon shelves of whiskey bottles. Their selection seems to be expanding and there are easily well over a hundred bottles on the shelf right now. Aside from that you see the beer taps with chalkboard handles. The Allagash White, Bells Two Hearted, and the Tennant Lager are the three beers permanently on tap. The 12 taps include one nitro that they change regularly. It's actually really fun having a beer you may have had before being pumped through nitro and noting the change in texture. 
The cocktail list is quite blissful to see. Any bar that has a Sazerac on the menu and is able to execute it is good in my book. The majority of the bar program was designed by a former national rep for Johnnie Walker, not that they advertise that. There are quite a few wonderful whiskey cocktails and there are a number of other styles of cocktail to round out the menu. Aside from the Old Fashioned, manhattan, whiskey mojito, sazerac, and house whiskey sour, they do a few infusions. There's a tea infused whiskey, a pineapple tequila, and my favorite, a pineapple blood orange habanero tequila. That sweet and spicy tequila makes for a great house margarita. You don't see drinks of this caliber in the suburbs. 

Food Menu
Despite the name, this is not exclusively a brick oven pizza bar. The craft dishes provided are of very high quality. Prices are again a bit high for the portions. Every week they change the specials. One week, I had an amazing burger with a soft shell crab on it; it was truly amazing, the crunch and juicy richness of the meat. There is also cycling charcuterie, flatbread, and chicken wing flavors. The regular menu does feature some very fine pizzas. The menu has always been delicious. Though I must say I've been disappointed with the portion sizes. 

Value
If you're looking to go spend $3 for a beer and $5 for a basket of wings then this will not please you. All in all the deals are very good. The beers they keep on draft could cost nearly double in the city. The cocktails go for about $9 each instead of the $13 I'd be willing to pay at some other bars. The food, however, is a bit pricey. The charcuterie plate goes for up to $24 dollars for what is very little food, and certainly not the best spread I've had in the area. Any appetizer you get will be on a plate the size of your hand, and while most are incredibly tasty, they disappear fast and leave me unsatisfied. I highly recommend the prosciutto fries, though. The frustrating thing is that most of the specials do not have a price listed. While this may fly in the more chic city bars it doesn't mesh well with a local bar. Though the grilled cheese is a steal for the quality you get.

Overall
Overall I give this bar an 8.5/10. The location is ideal for many upper-middle-class townsfolk. The space has a rustic charm while remaining clean and having modern amenities. The staff is casual and polite. The drinks are sublime and well rounded. The food is delicious though a little pricey. Though my two main grievances I have are that they can't handle the crowd and are trying to appeal to everyone. I hate sitting in a bar with children, especially young screaming children. At dinner time  and even bleeding into the nightlife, this is what you get, though. It's a family restaurant. But it's also the best suburban cocktail bar I've found so far. There is a disjoint there and it means that they get a good crowd day and night, but there are so many hours where I'd be unhappy going there. Either it's to crowded, or it's a place for families. There are a few sweet spots, but you have to be lucky.

"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."
- Dave Barry

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