Thursday, August 4, 2011

Who said Connecticut isn't any fun?

I recently went to Norwalk CT for work.  I know, I know….not the most exciting town in the world, but…what can I say.

I usually shy away from reporting stuff about my real job, mostly because I want to keep it, but there were some great places and we all had a good time .  I will keep it rather vague though with regards to who I was drinking with….to protect the innocent.

One other caveat before I begin.  I apologize for the picture qualities….it was with my old cell and the camera sucks. 


My trip began with the blogpost – Schlafly to the Rescue.  Here is another picture of the B Concourse in St Louis – Notice that all the glass is out and plywood covers everything.  Until this mess is cleaned up, I would highly recommend avoiding the airport…its now too crowded.  If you do go there, however, don’t pay for wireless….just hang out outside the AA Admirals Club – their access point is wide open.

IMG00231When I landed in LeGuardia, I found out my ride wouldn’t be there for at least an hour.  So it was off the “Jet Rock”, where they have 48 Beers on tap, where an old standby was waiting for me with open arms.  I loved the glass….and maybe it was a premonition.

In Norwalk, we stay at the DoubleTree, an average hotel…with an excellent bar, and I mean it.  Not just excellent as hotel bars go…but in general.  They have a good selection of Drafts (including Guinness and  the German Pils -Radeberger).  This is a pretty wide spread for your standard hotel, so when you throw in an excellent Scotch selection … I was pretty happy.

The other thing that makes this bar great…the bartenders.  They were fun to talk to, kept the drinks flowing (just ask JF), very liberal with the shots and downright stayed on top of things the entire time we were there.  They even kept the bar open later….just for us.  On the S&B Scale –these guys were top notch and deserve a raise (are you paying attention DoubleTree Management?) for their excellent customer service.  Well done.

At one point (I won’t mention what time of day it was), I observed the bartender pouring shots of Dekuypers.  He was laying out 10-15 glasses of various flavors, and doing short shots in each.  Thinking that he was going to do a layered drink, I asked what was going on?  What ensued was one of the funniest stories I had heard in awhile…to which I will give the Cliff’s Notes -

Basically, when the hotel was built back in the early 80’s, someone IMG00252thought it was a good idea to stock the bar – and in their infinite wisdom, purchased a case of each flavor of Dekuypers on the market.  This stuff had sat around now for decades, and now the bartenders use it as decoration behind the bar, and pour it in the glasses they float the candles in… add color.  While I would normally say – “What a waste of good liquor”, I think this is probably a better use for it.  A+ for ingenuity.

When we went out, we went to 4 different places . Here are the overviews -

The Red Barn- We had dinner here one night.  The food was quite good (I can never get enough FRESH Oysters) and the Filet Giovanni was cooked perfectly.  The restaurant itself is a converted barn (who would have knew?) from Colonial CT.  It has an interesting history (as the wait staff) and you can tell some effort went into restoration.  The only downside (or what could be viewed as an upside) was the entertainment.  To say that it played to an “older” crowd in an understatement, and his music was definitely dated.  In the end, it was so bad it was good…and brought much amusement to the group.  Murph and the Magic tones… out.

The Black Bear Saloon -  This was one of our stops in SoNo, and it was a pretty nice bar…one with multiple levels and TVs in the IMG00244booths.  I was particularly impressed, as the had Fireball Cinnamon Whisky behind the bar…..which immediately called for SHOTS.  Anytime you line up 6 shots of anything….it looks impressive.  When its something you enjoy….even better.  My one complaint about the bar – the bartender was not allowed to take a drink with us.  While I IMG00243somewhat get the policy, it doesn’t mean I agree with it.  I’m sure it has something to do with State Laws and Liability…but at some point, common sense needs to prevail.  At least she posed with the bottle.

Donovan’sIMG00251A true “Hole in the Wall” style Saloon, who’s interior is decorated in a Boxing Motif – stemming from the days when it was owned by “Battling Bat Kunz”.  Named after Jeremiah Donovan, the Saloon was established in 1889 (the same year of the Eiffel Tower”, this place just oozes history (including rumors of illegal liquor during Prohibition).  While small, the staff are excellent, and I must honestly say that this place was probably one of our downfalls.  While I would have been content with Guinness (check out the S&B FB page for a picture of a Guinness Glass with a cool Vintage Logo and others from this trip)…..someone decided that IMG00247we needed MORE Shots.  What ensued was a thing of legend…..where it was decided we would drink Jack Daniels (don’t ask), and that we wanted “Manly Sized” shots-which apparently meant TRIPLES.  Needless to say, we were well on our way…..and I was just glad this wasn’t on my tab.

SoNo Brewhouse Restaurant – Another place we had dinner, I was a little disappointed about this one.  Not saying the food wasn’t excellent, but more to the fact that its not an active Brewhouse.  The interior is incredible, with lots of beer memorabilia and two incredible beer kettles from Alleen Germany.  While 16 Beers on tap is good (I finally got a Dogfish Head that was fresh and it was good to get some Old Spekled Hen), it just seems that this place screams to be made into a Brewpub (especially with the name) and to not be is a huge letdown.  The best thing about the Brewhouse….the beer steamed mussels, but definitely not worth returning for.

In the end, the CT trip was a success….and it’s always good to see some of the people I work with.  I think a great time was had by all, and there were two quotes that stood out-

    • The highlight of the night was when we got back to the hotel, and I saw the bar was CLOSED (this after two nights of benders and returning from the triple shots at Donovan’s).
    • Look…..there’s Gandalf!!!! (only to be made funnier by the Bartender, also at Donovan’s, actually knowing who we were talking about)

I was pleasantly surprised about how nice downtown Norwalk (SoNO) was, and I honestly look forward to returning. 

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