Tag Archives: beer garden

Not Just a Pretty Face.

The Market Garden Brewery, the newest brewery in Cleveland’s Ohio City, had crowd control barriers outside its front door when I visited a few weeks ago. My general philosophy when I see roping outside a bar is to avoid. See-and-be-seen venues are for other people, people who wear rompers and who start getting ready to go out as I’m turning in for the night. If there had been a line outside the place, I would have seriously considered arguing for a change in plans. Happily, we arrived just before it opened, at four in the afternoon, and were given a choice of seats in the large, airy and trendy restaurant and beer garden.

From a retail design perspective, I was in love. The place was minimalistic with a dash of everything a Ohio-livin’ locavore could love. Before I even tried the beer, I’d mentally committed to purchasing swag from the front of the bar. (I left with a lovely blue t-shirt. Congrats on the effective merchandising, Market Garden.)

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The Not-So-Great Outdoors.

Nothing says summer in New York like a plethora of new outdoor-drinking establishments. It was hard to decide which to try first, but when I saw this Serious Eats slideshow, promising crunchy, juicy Thai fried chicken and Eastern European sausages of various persuasions, I moved BeerParc to the top of the list.

Though the companion article to the slideshow billed the space as an “outdoor extension” of FoodParc (the food court on the ground floor of Midtown’s Eventi Hotel), I was completely unprepared to find myself drinking beer in what amounted to a mid-block passageway. This did not bode well.

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Secret (Beer) Garden.

Looking back through the pictures I’ve taken over the course of the past few weeks, I realize I’ve been on two subconscious kicks: The Asian-food thing I’m attributing, in retrospect, to the weather, but I can’t really explain the speakeasy thing. It’s unintentional, really.

I’d read about Bia Garden—Michael “Bao” Huynh’s take on the Vietnamese beer garden—back when it opened last year, but somehow I missed the part about the not-so-stealthy entrance. I have to say, though, that any establishment that touts itself as “secret” and advertises its entryway with a sidewalk sandwich board really isn’t very clandestine at all, and I kind of like it that way.

My visit to Bia was the result of disparate elements conveniently colliding. On this particular day, I skipped out of work at exactly 5:00 p.m. to watch the Showdown in Chinatown, Steve Nash’s annual charity event featuring a mashup of basketball and soccer players, coming together on the pitch for an exhibition game. The Carnivore and I stood in the glare of the sun and watched a first half that included more recognizable NBA stars than footballers (this coming from someone who doesn’t follow professional basketball in the slightest), and decided at halftime that we’d had more than enough. Beer was sorely needed. A friend had mentioned this Vietnamese beer garden a few weeks earlier; she was in the neighborhood and came to meet us. And, in yet another act of serendipity, Jill had introduced me, via email, to a friend of hers in town for the week, staying on the Lower East Side; she, also, agreed to hang out. An IF-NY-OH crossover event!

Not only did I get to meet one of Jill’s food-oriented Columbus people, but, with five diners at our table, I got to order a whole lot of dishes. As we’ve mentioned, it’s one of my favorite things to do.

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