Visiting an old friend

You know, it’s weird… I’ve been Downtown for nine years now. I write a blog that a lot of people consider the go-to guide for what to do on the weekends. And yet, on Saturday nights lately, I find myself searching for things to do.

One group of people I know, who call themselves the Wolfpack, make the circuit of bars and clubs. They do Bardog then Local then Bar None then Silly Goose then Raiford’s then Club Shadows followed by a late night snack at Blues City or Cockadoos. They have fun but I couldn’t do it on a weekly basis. For one thing, they prefer to be at each bar when it’s at its most crowded. Although I’m a big fan of most of the places I just mentioned, some of them are less fun when they are super busy. People constantly crowding you, bumping into you, you know? Plus, I can’t see myself making a regularly weekly habit of partying with 22 year olds at Shadows at 4 in the morning.

Another group of my friends goes to the Blue Monkey every Saturday. Now, while I think the Monkey is a fantastic bar in general, Saturday is karaoke night. I cannot think of anything more BORING than spending the best night of my week listening to horribly crappy singing. Did my friends all turn 60 and move to a trailer park? Sometimes I wonder. Also, given the amount of rent I pay to live in the Downtown core, I want to hang out in the core most of the time, not have a regular Saturday night gig at a bar almost a mile’s walk away. Yes, I know there’s a trolley but it stops running at 1.

So, on a few Saturdays recently, I’ve ended up by myself. Which is fine – I’m an only child and have been comfortable doing my own thing my entire life. I feel the need to vary things up though. Hanging out at the Saucer all the time gets old after a while.

Yesterday, after spending a few hours at Max’s, I hopped on the trolley to ride north. I decided to get off at Beale Street and visit an old friend – my mug at the Tap Room.

Beale Street is full of bars that attract mainly tourists (Hard Rock, BB King’s) and dance clubs that mainly kids go to (Alfred’s, 152/Shadows). But the Tap Room… now that’s my kind of bar. Dark, wooden interior, memorabilia including beer steins and unusual beer cans. Nice, long bar with 20 beers on draft, full liquor selection. Bands play on the weekends, but not so loud that you can’t talk to the person next to you. Games on TVs at each end of the bar. Really good food, because they share a menu with King’s Palace next door. The Tap Room used to be my nightly home, from about ’03 to ’05 before I got on a roll with the Saucer. It had a really good mix of people, balanced perfectly between locals and out-of-towners.

As for my mug, they have a “Mug Club.” When I joined, I paid $20 (it’s probably a little more now) and was given markers to decorate the bottom of my mug, including its number (52). Mug Club members get a discount on beers in their mug, and they get extra value on every beer they drink. I believe the mugs are 23 ounces, compared to the usual 16-ounce pints. One of my friends actually bought mug #1 from its original owner, so he could say he’s #1. Nowadays there are so many Mug Club members that they don’t even bother numbering them.

I ordered dinner, going with the seafood pasta: Shrimp, crab and scallops in a cream sauce. Absolutely delicious. I highly recommend it. The Chicken Pontabla (chicken and cheese over potatoes with Cajun spice) is another can’t-miss dish.

Although it had been close to a year since my last visit, the Tap Room still felt like home. I need to get a regular Saturday rotation of bars going – something less ambitious than what the Wolfpack does – and the Tap Room deserves to be on the list. Saucer, Tap Room, maybe Bar None. As much as I love Bardog and Silly Goose, they get so crowded on Saturdays that I don’t go much, unless I know friends are going too. Maybe Rehab Disco or Raiford’s if I want to end the night at a dance club – both of those clubs appeal to kids and grownups alike. I need to spend more time at Rockbottom, the locals’ bar on the ground floor of Rehab, in particular.

In any event, my Saturday schedule will be thrown all out of whack next week, thanks to Music Fest. Reminds me, I need to do a post about Music Fest people watching. Maybe I’ll work on that this afternoon since the Saucer doesn’t open until 5.