It's a swelteringly hot Wednesday night. Peg & the kids are out at my mother's place on Long Island, so I was left to my own devices for dinner. Tired of ordering in pizza and Chinese food, I stepped out in search of something else. I combed the neighborhood for almost an hour before I reluctantly settled on Burger Creations, a new-ish joint on East 8th Street. My crispy chicken sandwich left very much to be desired (and burned my tongue). It was not a splendid experience. Despite the fact that my neighborhood is rife with eateries, the fact remains that I'm not especially fond of most of them. This wasn't always the case.
Even before I moved downtown in 1996, I had a favorite spot in this area. From about 1992 onward, certain friends of mine and I routinely hit the fabled Cedar Tavern. Not only was it a grand, storied New York City drinking institution, but it was also simply a pleasant and relaxing place. Free of any pervading scenesterism or hip cache, the Cedar was the ideal place to have a drink, meet up with a friend or grab a bite. Downstairs was cozily dark and atmospheric. Upstairs was roomy and gregarious. It served virtually all purposes. In other words, it was perfect. I mean, it had its down sides. The french fries were never very good and you sometimes had to strain to hear the juke box, but these were exceptionally minor quibbles.
It sounds like a cliche, but the Cedar Tavern became my second living room for a while. In true "Cheers" form, I swiftly got to know the bartenders, given the frequency of my visits. My wife and I constantly stopped in for "secret drinks" before and after scheduled events. When friends of mine came visiting, it was a given that the Cedar Tavern was where we'd rendez-vous, usually at the table just inside the door, under the big picture window.
I wasted a great deal of space on this weblog lamenting the Cedar's sudden departure and the slow, repugnant rise of the glorified outhouse of a condo that now stands in its footprint. It's pointless to re-address all that stuff now, but as I walked the streets of this neighborhood looking for that perfect joint tonight, I couldn't help wishing the Cedar Tavern was still there. It would have been just what I was in the mood for.
When I got back home, I found this nice little clip.