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Where Can I Get a Drink?

A look to the future...through beer goggles...

On the occasion my wife and I have a free night or babysitter, we often end up with a drink in our hands. Now, we like to be responsible and ideally would prefer to stay in town.  Problem is we cannot really settle in to the local pubs.  

Don't get me wrong...each bar in town has its own distinctive charms. Poor Herbie's has a nice pint of Guinness, quality food and a relaxed charm and character.  

54 Main has size, food and live music should you desire.  And Prospect is certainly the most aesthetically pleasing and pours a nice Guinness, too.

Somehow between the three establishments one, high quality bar exists.  For most of the time we want a burger and a beer, we are heading out of town: Arthur's or Sona in Morristown.  Delicious Heights or Trap Rock in Berkeley Heights. Anywhere in NYC. For the record, I am tired of going elsewhere.

Can I request the three owners get together, buy the old Exxon station across from Gary's and build a two-, maybe three-story gem?  Poor Herbie's can become another Chocolate Store. 54 Main can be the first spot to attract a big retail store. You with me folks? Think smaller Westfield. Will the women of Madison shop at an Anthropologie or JCrew at that location? My bet would be yes.

Prospect is pretty so maybe make that a nice tapas place/wine bar.  

The new superbar/restaurant can be multi-faceted. Downstairs would have a nice rathskellar feel to it. Think foosball, darts and peanuts on the floor. Maybe like the bar Rob Lowe and Jim Belushi shot mini hoops in "About Last Night."

Upstairs should resemble any one of the numerous places the Huntley group owns. Lots of dark wood, a fireplace and elegant fare. Ideally, there should be a Happy Hour and bar menu. A large dining room, without TVs, would serve the sophisticated diner. I am fine with a pretentious, smaller bar that would disallow hats and cursing. I am talking to you Trap Rock.

No live music.  The rathskellar has a supreme jukebox that will spin all the hits (as I see them.)  Be prepared for plenty of bands you have never heard of when I get my drunk on.  

A place for Madison folk of all kind. And I can stumble down Main St to my home... not worry about 78 West or Springfield Ave.  It exists in my imagination. Now, how can we make it happen.

And where will we find the staff? Ugh, that is an entirely different column.

For more, visit guidetosomewhere.blogspot.com

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meg schmidt May 19, 2011 at 01:03 AM
Henry...try being a 60 something single woman and wanting to have a "cocktail" somewhere close by and decent! Madison needs a sophisticated "bar".
Madison Cyclist May 19, 2011 at 01:31 AM
Dude - try Rocco's ! It's like the Bull & Finch landed in the Rose City.
Todd Notine May 19, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Here Here..a smaller version of Roots would do nicely on that Exxon property. I'm sure people would prefer a different option than the bar at Charlie Browns for a cocktail ! On that note where we meeting tonight? I'm thinking local somewhere...
Jbski May 19, 2011 at 06:35 PM
Why would it have to be the Exxon station across from Gary's? There's another vacant lot across from Gary's that's bigger that could be another bar/restaurant. I'm think maybe a Martini Lounge or something more upscale. But then again, most of the crowd in downtown Madison is mostly young.
Henry Bisco May 19, 2011 at 06:56 PM
Listen... If you are asking to make the bar the size of the lot from former Exxon to the Jr School where do I sign? Think Dave and Busters meets quality brew pub meets Il Mondo Vecchio?
Donna May 19, 2011 at 06:58 PM
Although I agree that Madison could use a new sophisticated pub or restaurant, I do not at all like the idea of having one bar in town to go to. For starters, I like Poor Herbie’s. The service and food are good. Rocco’s, Shanghai and Rod’s all have nice bar scenes, but the bars are very small. 54 Main and Prospect St. Tavern are decent, but the service leaves a lot to be desired. Still, it is nice to have options in the event that I might have a bad meal or bad service in one of the places I like and then need to give one of the other places a try. Having only one bar in town would be a nightmare. 54 Main has certain football fans who are virtually barstools in the place on Sundays during football season. They sit in the same spot every week and act like they own the place. The manager (one of their cronies, I suppose), even refused to allow some non-regulars to finish watching a game because the regulars didn’t like the team. If there was only one place in town, certain idiotic patrons like those regulars at 54 would try to take it over right away. If I saw them in any place on a regular basis, I’d boycott it from the start.
Madison Station May 25, 2011 at 12:01 AM
How do you bar hop in one building? Kind of lame. meg - try Madison Hotel. Perfectly stuffy enough for a 60+ crowd. You may even meet a 60+ Harding executive recently divorced who just got off the train.
Patrick Franklin May 25, 2011 at 01:47 AM
Another half decent bar would be great. Although the idea of 3 different owners with 3 different liquor licenses, leases or mortgages on their current properties getting together to form a Mega bar seems very unlikely.
Mikey D June 09, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Was there Friday night for a few hours. The Kellers (as always) are excellent hosts and a good time was had by all. Try the lamb burger! Also the bartender throws you a great Manhattan (or 3).
KeepItReal June 10, 2011 at 04:49 PM
The former Exxon and the vacant lot are one and the same. Or, are you talking about the old Jaguar dealership?
Donna June 29, 2011 at 04:59 PM
GK's Red Dog Tavern at the Madison Hotel is wonderful. It would be nice to have another good place open up in downtown Madison, though.
Patrick Franklin June 29, 2011 at 06:55 PM
I'm gonna have to check out red dogs. Rods was one of my favorite restaurants for years and their service was second to none, but over the last couple of years I felt as if the quality of service dropped off dramatically. Haven't been back in a year or so.
Dana D June 29, 2011 at 09:57 PM
I work for the Kellers but in Springfield. The restaurant and bar is wonderful. On Friday and Saturday nights they have bands that usually play classic rock. It's also an older crowd - not the 21 year old crowd which I feel to old for now. They are also very kid friendly and Sundays kids eat free off the kids menu with the purchase of an adult meal. And kids eat free in uniform. The food is great. They won an Irish culinary contest at bloomingdales this year with their Shepard pie. And need I say more abt the service??? Over all - great place w great bosses! They are like family! Check out McLynns if you're in Springfield!!!

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