Monday, March 26, 2007

What a weekend in New York City!
It is finally here! It is starting to feel like Spring. The outdoor restaurants in the parks are opening. Willmena visited one in Central Park as well as Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.
This is where you see her with her Pooch-ini. It is frozen custard, p-nut butter and dog treats.
This being the first open weekend of the season for Shake Shack, you have to have patience. The line around the park waiting for hamburgers, dogs, custard and drinks was almost as long as the string of drool that hung from Mena's lips by the time my buzzer alerted me our order was ready. Mena also sampled the Taxi Dog and Chicago Dog. She will write about those in her upcoming Hot Doggie Tour of New York City.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Morning After.
After all her pre-St. Patrick's day touring (did you see her Connecticut Irish tour? Click here) and her frolicking in the new snow, McMena needs a day at the spa.
Actually, she took it easy St. Patrick's night, turning in early even though the dog upstairs barked all night and cheers and chants could be heard from the street all the way up to her 11th floor pad. The morning after St. Paddy's Mena was back out by 7:30am enjoying off-leash hours.
Okay, so there is one more thing Willamena likes as much as treats and the first morning after a snowfall.


This dog will try to swim in puddles, fountains and
even those little ponds some people have in front of their homes.
So this morning was a bit of a temptation for her. Again,

back when she was young, the taz-mena devil, she could never have been trusted off the leash by water. Actually, she couldn't have been trusted on leash by water. She would have pulled

me in here.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Luck of the McMena! If there is anything McMena loves as much as a treat, it is the morning after a snowfall in Central Park. Here it is, St. Patrick's Day '07, in the park around 8:00 a.m. Dogs can be off-leash from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. in New York City parks. Recently, though, this non-posted guidline spurred a lawsuit which, thank McMena's lucky shamrocks, failed. However, the end result is expected to create official regulations granting off-leash hours. We'll hear something next month, I'll keep you posted.
McMena doesn't like it when it's raining or snowing, and she doesn't like walking on the salt-treated or sludge covered sidewalks to get to the park. But once she sees several inches of fresh powder (in this case, kinda fresh pellety) she trembles. Her ears shake, her smile widens, she runs faster than when she was that one-year-old tasmanian devil that had to be locked in a seperate room when people came over.
New York City area children were also lucky this weekend. They got a an extra day off because almost all schools called Friday a snow day.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

McMena's St. Patrick's New York City tour of Irish hangouts.
Upper East Side:

(Map coming soon. In the meantime, read on! - Click on pictures to enlarge.)

An Irish pub in New York City? That's hard to find. A internet search reveals there are more than nine-thousand in the area! Mena can't make them all, but click here for links to some of the most popular. In the spirit of the Willabeast's Haunted Tour of NYC, McMena stakes out the Upper East and West sides for places that at least have an Irish feel.

1. Finnegan's Wake
1361 1st Ave At 73rd St

I'm assuming they have good whiskey here. It was the cause of both the fall and resurrection of Finnegan.
You can also order Bangers & Mash, Steak & Kidney Pie, Shepherd's Pie and Fish & Chips.
However, Willamena was intrigued by the green sign looking behind the awning of Finnegan's Wake. So let's zoom in.

1365 1ST Ave

Kinda funny being in the search for Shamrocks we find Shamrat.
Seriously though, a nice alternative to whiskey or the pint any time is Chai. Shamrat has it listed on the menu as Indian spiced tea.
While Willamena hasn't had the Shamrat version, she highly recommends trying it at any Indian place. Her favorite, however, is still at the Cosmic Cafe in Dallas.

2. Cork & Fin
1374 York (between 73rd and 74th)

This place is wishing you a Happy St. Patrick's Day. That's what it says on the door.
Mena was just here too early. She was told by a cute irish looking boy on the corner eating a sandwich that it is usually open. A check of the hours reveals it opens at noon Monday through Friday, but not until 6:00 pm on Saturdays.
Check out choice with your chips: Whiting & Chips, Tilapia & Chips, Cod & Chips, Catfish & Chips, Chicken & Chips, Shrimp & Chips, even Crabsticks & Chips. You can also get Teriyaki and sushi rolls.

3. David Copperfield's
1394 York Avenue at 74th Street

Just a half block from Cork & Fin a Guiness sign screams at you from David Copperfield's. Okay. So Charles Dickens was English, and this is an ale house. But it does serve Irish fare including Bangers & Mash and Shepherd's Pie.

Plus just how happy the four of us look. Proof people in Manhattan are friendly and you can hand your camera over to strangers who ask if you want to be in the picture with your dog.

4. Doc Watsons
1490 2nd Avenue (between 77th & 78th)

McMena had a thing for this Menu. Check out her smile. While you are at it, check the Brunch deal. (Click on the photos to enlarge.) $10.95 includes an entree, such as Baked beans on toast, and TWO drinks. Ten bucks is what one drink will cost you at some NYC brunches.

5. McKeown's
1303 3rd Ave (between 74th & 75th)

This place is all Irish. It offers traditional fare, including Irish Stew and even Irish-style chicken curry.
There is a fireplace as well as stained-glass window detailing inside.

6. Phoenix Park
206 E 67th At 3rd Ave

Check out his lounge the newshound sniffed out. Its menu lists burgers and traditonal Irish fare. Actually, its the first place on this tour to have Corned beef & Cabbage on the menu.
(Even though Patrick Hogan, a Connecticut chef and restaurant owner born and raised in Ireland, told me he never had corned beef in Ireland. He says it became a substitute for Irish bacon here in America. Read his recipe for something he did eat in Ireland, Bubble and Squeak. )
Phoenix Park in Dublin is the largest urban enclosed park in Europe. It is bigger than NY's Central Park.
Has Mena done a Central Park tour yet? Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

McMena's St. Patrick's New York City tour of Irish hangouts.
Upper West Side:

Literature is considered one of Ireland's greatest exports. It was the pubs where writers would congregate to meet publishers and other business contacts. So in honor of St. Patrick's Day, we celebrate the Irish pub.

1. Emerald Inn
205 Columbus Ave (between 69th and 70th)

The same Irish family has owned this locals' joint since it opened in 1943. In 2006 it won New York Magazine's listing for the best watering hole of the UWS. The waiters and waitresses have Irish accents.

2. Malachy's Donegal Inn

103 West 72nd Street (between Amsterdam Ave & Columbus Ave)
This is a place you could walk by every day for three years and never go in. You might pause to read about the five-dollar sausage and onion sandwich special, but you keep walking.
However, this pre-prohibition pub is rumored to be an old hangout of Famed writer Dorothy Parker and her roundtable. The reviews call is not trendy, not chic and not pricey, therefore a local favorite.

3. Westside Brewing Company

340 Amsterdam Avenue at 76th
Okay, so not an Irish bar. Not even Irish-themed. But you can get a Guiness on tap, along with about twenty others. There is also about a 40-bottle selection. It doesn't brew its own anymore, it contracts out to Chelsea Brewing Company. However, through the 1950's, this used to be an Irish bar called Sweeney's.

4. McAleer's Pub

425 Amsterdam (between 80th and 81st)
If there is a pot of gold in the window you know you can't go wrong. Plus there are $2.00 beer specials all week. During brunch you can order probably the closest you'll find to green eggs. It's an egg white omelet with chopped spinach and basil and avocado. Served with a side of mixed greens. You can also get unlimited tomato beer, mimosas, bloody mary's or screwdrivers.

5. The Dead Poet
450 Amsterdam Avenue (between 81st
Street & 82nd)

In the true spirit of Irish literature history, this bar is separated from a New York City library branch by only a child's haircutting place.
You can also order one of eight specialty cocktails named for, well, dead poets. The list includes the W.B Yeats, a five-alcohol mixture, the Robert Frost, a vanilla vodka drink, and the Emily Dickinson, a pink lemonade concocture.
You will also get your name on the wall after drinking your 100th Guinness.
Take home your own plaque after drinking 500.

6.Dublin House
225 W. 79th
(between Broadway and Amsterdam)
This neon harp was up as soon as Prohibition ended in 1933. However, this historical bar was run as a full restaurant and bar during Prohibition because of certain business arrangements with the local authorities. Read more about the history of Dublin House here.

7. Hanafin's
2286 Broadway (between 82nd & 83rd)

You SEE there are shamrocks in the window. Plus the name Hanafin's seems Irish. This restaurant however, is rated American traditional. You can get anything from pancakes to sauteed calamari to burgers to Egg Creams. Mena approves of the carrot soup.

8. The Parlour
250 West 86th street (between Broadway and West End)

This is a tremendously popular Irish bar and restaurant, crowded with the real thing on St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 05, 2007

St. Patrick's Day Preview
With only two weeks until St. Patrick's Day, the celebrations have already begun in New York City. This past weekend, parades were held in Queens. Manhattan hosts its Saturday the 17th and Brooklyn marches on the 18th. However, Willamena has been busy working on a tour of Irish bars in New York City to help you with your celebration, no matter when you choose to commemorate. In trying to put one together similar to her tour of Haunted New York, she is facing a few problems. First, knowing her love for the pint, she wants to also find places she can actually go inside. That will probably have to be a separate tour.

This is a picture of her this past summer licking off a beer at the SheepMeadow Cafe in Central Park on a break from her Haunted Tour.

Also, she is finding several problems with taking pictures at night in front of bars. 1. Drunks. With the smoking ban they are outside smoking and ultimately want to take the picture of her or just entice her to lose her composure. Don't try to pet the beast when she is working. Or if she has a bone. Or if you are unruly or drunk or a child. You see the problems with this tour already. 2. The nightime lighting isn't as flattering to her features as time closer to magic hour. Hmmm, maybe we'll have to go with happy hour for this tour.
No doubt the pictures will have to be retaken, regardless this one at the P&G Cafe on Amsterdam might not make the Irish Bar Tour. There are more than nine-thousand Irish bars in New York City to choose from and I'm not sure what P&G is other than a landmark from a Seinfeld episode. Yet another tour the beast will bring you soon.