So slowly but surely my socializing has moved from the streets of New York to the confines of my apartment. I find Sunday dinners with friends followed by the latest HBO show to be preferable to doing battle with a reservationist, and many of my regular dining companions seem to have come to a similar conclusion. Which means that although I'm enjoying all of my homebody socializing immensely, I have virtually no clue when it comes to the latest in eating and drinking. I need to rely on outsiders to keep me abreast.
One of my favorite former colleagues suggested a drink or two to catch up the other day, so I rattled off my usual spots in my office district (Union Square) and in her office district (downtown). She went out of the box and suggested her new go to on the Lower East Side, Ten Bells. She mentioned the cheap oysters and the fact that it was under a staircase (a "good design solution" she thought). Excited to try something new and well reviewed by a trusted judge, I enthusiastically agreed.
front door, photo here
A bit of research revealed that Ten Bells is owned by the guys behind Pere Pinard, a haunt of my early 20s when I still favored the Lower East Side as a nightlife destination. My last night there is a vague memory of a bar tender with liberal pours, far too much red wine and a far too enthusiastic party girl as my companion (an old friend of Paul's who was staying with us for a few days). The rest is best left unsaid. Mostly because I don't recall it. But that aside I always enjoyed the rustic bistro and bar, so had high hopes for their new venture.
And those hopes were absolutely warranted. I walked into a pleasantly, but not oppressively, full bar with low lighting, pressed tin walls and ceiling and gorgeous marble bars. Faced with an impressive list of wine and of beer and gentle prices, I was happy to be settling in for a friendly catch up. But then I had one of the $1 happy hour oysters and found myself more than happy...I was in hog heaven. With only two choices the variety was not huge, but the quality was outstanding. Sweet, briny and fresh as an ocean breeze, it was everything an oyster should be and more.
Well priced booze, wallet-friendly, delicious oysters, pleasant barmen, a noise level conducive to animated conversation, but not so loud as to hasten deafness...I seriously had begun to question my homebody tendencies. If this is the kind of place I've been missing out on then I need to get out more, much more.