Monday, May 10, 2010

Please Don't Tell

Yesterday, Heather and I spent the entire day in the East Village. The main purpose of the trip was to attend a pig butchering demonstration and bluegrass music at Jimmy's No. 43 on 7th st. It ended at 4:00 and we were kind of left to our own devices for the rest of the evening. This, it seemed, was the perfect opportunity to try an establishment that I've wanted to try for a while. PDT.

PDT stands for Please Don't Tell. It's one of New York's many not-so-well-kept secrets. You go inside a hog dog place called Crif's Dogs and walk into a phone booth. Once inside, you pick up the phone and wait for the hostess to answer. She will then open the secret door in the back of the booth to let you in. It might sound a little cheesy but I like little touches like that in a bar. A little something unique that sets it apart from other places. Plus, who doesn't want to feel like they're in an episode of Get Smart.

The place isn't that big, so generally you need reservations to get in. Like many of the other places we like to go, they won't let more people in than they can handle. There's nothing worse than having people eye my bar stool while I'm trying to enjoy my drink. But we arrived just as it opened, so we were in luck.

Heather has been there once before but I haven't so this was all very new and exciting. The place is very dimly lit and adorned with animal heads on the wall. Theres a bear wearing a hat on one side of the bar and a rabbit with antlers and sunglasses on the other. We sat at the bar itself--I prefer to look back there and see what's going on. Behind the bar, there's a little monitor that looks into the phone booth. It was kind of cool watching people enter the phone booth on this little black and white TV. It reinforced the illusion that we were doing something we weren't supposed to be doing.

After much deliberation and soul searching, I decided to order a Bobby Burns cocktail--a drink combining Benromach 12 year scotch, Dolin sweet vermouth and Benedictine--while Heather went with a Black Jack--Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac, Clear Creek Kirsch and 9th Street Coffee Concentrate. My drink was very well put together and was garnished with a bit of lemon peel. It had a nice sweetness to it that went well with the smokiness of the scotch. Heather's was sweet as well with a heavy coffee flavor and was garnished with a few brandied cherries; right up Heather's alley. She had to pace herself, the drink tasted like a coffee candy and threatened to go down way too quickly.

Also behind the bar, there is a little window through which food from Crif's Dogs--the front for this secretive establishment--could be slid. Crif's Dogs is known for it's deep fried dogs with a variety of unusual toppings, Heather was both disgusted and excited to read about dogs with cream cheese and scallions and a bacon wrapped dog with avocados and sour cream. We had just eaten so we did not order any food, but it's nice to know we could have. There's something charming about a really fancy drink and food that not just could, but probably will kill you.

There's a little kid part of me that wanted there to be secret doors all over the place, like a puzzle you have to figure out. I wanted there to be a lever that you have to pull while standing on a certain spot that releases a trap door in the floor to bring you to the bathroom. I wanted a false floor tile to reveal a secret staircase that leads to gangsters playing dice or craps. I wanted to pull a candlestick and have a bookshelf rotate to reveal a secret bar-within-a-bar where you could get really crazy drinks made with stuff like snake venom or bald eagle eggs. I'd like to think that that stuff could be there at PDT and I just haven't discovered it yet. Sigh. Someday.

We only stayed for one round partly because we had other stuff to do and partly because the cocktails were fourteen dollars a piece. Dutch Kills is much more reasonable at ten. Instead of spending another $28, I played a round of Double Dragon in Crif's Dogs. It was fun but it reminded me how bad I am at Double Dragon. We then headed over to Desnuda to enjoy dollar oyster night.

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