If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it’s a 3:00pm -4:00pm meal – smack dab between late lunch and dinner. Yeah. Not unusual barternder’s fare when after they’ve been on a drink pouring tear until 4:00am the night before. This is usually followed by an all day sleeping binge, neglecting essentials like – you know – daylight and contact with other human beings.
Only, today, my Dunch was a result of beginning of some exhaustive and intense training at my new bar in the MPD. I neglected to eat breakfast and had no chance to eat lunch. So, I headed East. Crazed and shaky from being simultaneously deprived of (1) much needed nourishment and (2) much needed hop and barley juice, I stopped by one of my old haunts – Old Town Bar on 18th Street between Broadway and Park Ave.
This place has been around for well over 100 years and it looks it – I mean, in a fabulous way. It hasn’t changed much at all in all that time. It’s nearly as old as McSorely’s, Pete’s and The Ear – well, kinda. You can totally envision what it must have been like at Old Town in days of far greater culture when all men, even bums and the poor, wouldn’t be caught dead outdoors without (1) a button shirt (2) suspenders or a vest (3) leather shoes and (4) a proper Derby, Fedora or Cap. Even the criminals had class.
Architecture involved something other than glass, steel and concrete rectangles. Craftsmen of all types were idolized and sought after. They were storied and respected professions. I today stand in awe of even the crappiest and lowest-budget buildings erected from back then. I can totally envision all of these types of dudes casually strolling into the same exact same bar I had the pleasure of drinking in this afternoon. Yeah… I pine for those days. Throughout my life, I’ve often wished I’d been born in the mid-late 1800′s.
Old Town made it through even the Prohibition Days in the U.S. – tough times indeed. It’s bar is original old school Mahogany it seems. The Doghouse coolers are even made of wood. The patina’d copper ceiling tiles are original, as are the stained glass treatments. Most of the barkeeps there are from the same Irish family or two that have been rooted there for generations. Some of those “old” guys have been tending bar there for decades. Their peeps are mostly from Queens neighborhoods that have traditionally been heavy on Irish immigrants since the dawn of man – places like Woodside and Sunnyside.
Anyways, my tummy continues it’s bout against my lower body and cries out for some sacrificial bloody meat something awful. I can barely speak as it’s been nearly 24 hours without suds in my system. This place is usually teeming with customers – so much so, that I can pretty much never find a bar stool. 3:00pm is no different… only this time, half the stools are being occupied by my favorite customers – winter jackets.
I did not ask the staff to find me a place to sit. After investigating the straight-type bar up and down a couple of times, I finally got intrusive and asked someone to move their jacket. I sit down, greet the bartender and promptly ask him for a cold pint of Chico’s best, Sierra Nevada draft along with a menu. A couple of minute later, the bartender sees me waiting patiently, menu closed and sipping my brew. He rolls up to me as he should and proceeds:
[Barkeep] Hey bud, ready to order?
[Me] Hey man. Yeah. Muenster burger deluxe – medium, straight-fries, mayo on the side.
[Barkeep][His eyes light up and he chuckles - verbatim:] Great order man! Thanks so much! Thanks!
He promptly brings my order to the kitchen for processing. He returns quickly and goes about his business. Now see – the reason he was so amused is because he was relieved. Through several casual processes, I’ve easily put his mind at ease and made his job way easy. He didn’t have to ask me what I wanted to drink, if I’d like anything to eat, what I’d like from the menu, how I’d like it cooked, what toppings and sides I’d like and which condiments I’d need. Get it? Another pint helps wash down the ground beef sammich. I ask for the check so I can be on my merry way. It’s $25 bucks. I tip the guy $10, thank him and take off…