I’ve been spending loads of time lately at a pub called The Ginger Man. It started two years ago when a friend recommended it to me – they have a ridiculous variety of beers and it has that dark wood, cozy corner feel to it. I finally went there for the first time back in January, and we loved it. It was wicked crazy (the Giants were playing), but we still had a great time. We didn’t have any food – it was midnight – but we did love the cask beers and the general mood of the place.
Then my parents visited a couple weeks ago and we thought – hey! – let’s take them to The Ginger Man. Well, let me tell you, 2 pm on a Saturday is the perfect time to go there. We were able to sit on the leather couch by the big windows near the front of the pub and just relax. It was actually quiet! In addition to the beer (a Fraziskaner with lemon for me, thanks), we had their cheese plate which was surprisingly good: the cheese was good quality with an interesting variety, the bread was quality, and I liked the inclusion of walnuts. We also got their pretzels, which are awesome. They’re the big soft kind that you find from the street vendors, except these are exceptional quality: crunchy on the outside with the perfect portion of salt, fresh and soft on the inside. And they serve it with a sweet-spicy honey mustard dip that’ll clear your sinuses if you don’t practice restraint.
So that was two weeks ago. Then last weekend I took a girlfriend there around the same time on a Sunday: totally chill and relaxed, and I even curled my legs up under me on the couch like it was my own living room. I had their portabella sandwich, which was extremely dry and dull – I won’t order it again.
Then I went again last night. I’ve had such cozy, delightful times there, but I must have been fuzzy on nostalgia because I thought 6:00 on a Thursday night would be a good idea. I was meeting a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile and I had sweet visions of curling up on the couch again and catching up on all her news. Oh, dear readers, I could not have been more mistaken. The place was a zoo. A loud, noisy zoo where the animals are allowed to roam free. Of course, I’m kicking myself – I should have known better! A midtown bar after work right before the weekend?! Laura! You fool! Not to mention that I was the only one in the bar not wearing a black trenchcoat. The Ginger Man goes from jeans and sweaters and all things relaxed on weekend afternoons to corporate blandness on the weeknights. Ew.
So I get there at 5:30, intentionally early so that I could have a beer beforehand, chill out, read the NYT Dining section. No, instead, I had to sit in a dark corner where I couldn’t read. And then I realized that keeping my coveted table for the next 30 minutes was going to take a feat of superhuman strength. The claws came out. And then I felt the surest way to keep the server from asking me to give up my table would be to buy my way into keeping my seat. So I set up a tab and ended up drinking three beers! Three! Goodness. Luckily, my friend showed up and I was able to smile smugly at everyone: see, I told you I was meeting a friend. On a culinary note, I had the pretzel for an appetizer. And I had their field greens salad for dinner, which was rather good. The greens weren’t all wilty, and there were three generous rounds of goat cheese on top. The walnuts on the salad were also good, though the strawberry vinaigrette was a little too heavy on the vinegar side – my mouth felt all sore by the time I was finished. Luckily, my three Franziskaners helped numb me. The conversation, of course, was fantastic, even though it was semi-yelled. People were so tacky and hammered by the time we left – my friend got accosted by a young woman asking her about dating option traders – that we couldn’t help feeling that we escaped in the nick of time.
I can highly recommend The Ginger Man for phenomenal beers and decent pub food. Just go on overcast weekend afternoons when the zoo animals are locked up.
The Ginger Man
11 East 36th St. (between 5th and Madison)
NY, NY 10016