2 Pennsylvania Plaza (a pretentious way of saying 33rd and 7th), Midtown West
The Place: A brand new food hall next to Penn Station, clearly built in an attempt to make the area I like to call the Armpit of New York a bit more attractive.
The Time: Friday May 6, 3:15pm. I have no idea what I’m doing here. Well, that’s not entirely true - I actually came here for a sandwich from The Cinnamon Snail, an incredible vegan food truck-turned-vendor that’s exclusively at The Pennsy, and whenever I’m hungry and in this area, I get one of their amazing sandwiches. But there’s a bar here and it’s open so I’m like, ok. I have some time to kill before leaving for the Catskills with the wondrous One Year Lease Theater Company, so I figured, why not have a drink before a 3 hour van ride?
The Vibe: The Pennsy is massive, and I get why there’s a bar but there really shouldn’t be; it’s a glorified food court. It is so bright inside, no matter the weather outside. The bar wraps around an entire section of the huge space, with plenty of beer taps and teal bar stools. There’s a DJ playing raging club music, which makes zero to no sense. But hey, it’s TGIF for the bridge and tunnel crowd, exactly the clientele occupying this bar right now. Plenty of older dudes in suits too, who may or may not fall into the B+T category. The suits next to me keep looking over at me, probably wondering what my deal is. They also spend a lot of time commenting on the DJ: “what do DJs do now that they don’t spin records?” “Kinda sounds the same though.” I then look up and notice a giant flatscreen projecting an infomercial for the world’s biggest netty pot. The suits notice it too, and they both scoff in disgust and horror. One of them says, “is that a blender???” Even if you slap a fresh coat of paint on it, this neighborhood will always be the Armpit of New York.
The Bartender: All women it seems, dressed in gingham button downs and red suspenders. They are not v. chatty, but neither am I in this moment. Except for one time when the music surges, and I must make a face because the bartender's like, “I know right? I feel like it should be more laid back right now, it’s not even 4 o’clock!” Never has a truer word been spoken.
The Drank: A glass of riesling at $10. Big pour. Big glass. Everything seems bigger at The Pennsy. They even have a sign on the wall boasting that their pint glass is 1.5oz bigger than the average pint glass (even daring to say, “Don’t believe us? Bet your bartender!” and you know some of these arrogant old-timers must take the bait). Their cocktail menu looks decent, but I just don’t trust it. Maybe it’s my prejudice about the cocktails I think a Penn Station bar would serve. They have a pretty good selection of spirits and the wine is good, but I don’t have the time or money to spend on a cocktail my gut and biases are saying would be average.
Was I Hit On? The suits next to me leave once I start eating my massive Cinnamon Snail sandwich (that’s a plus about The Pennsy - you can drink and eat anywhere). But they are immediately replaced by 2 guys in suits that look and sound exactly like the other guys. I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone. The suit closest to me turns, points to my sandwich and says, “That looks great, where’d you get it?” Through a very full mouth, I manage to eek out “Cmmamon Smail.” He doesn’t talk to me again because I'm obviously more invested in my sandwich than I would ever be in a conversation with him.
Should You Drink Here Alone? There’s nothing wrong with The Pennsy. But frankly, the best thing it’s got going for it is the food, not the bar, so next time, I’m just gonna get my yummy vegan sandwich and peace out.