506 Grand St at Union Ave, Williamsburg
The Place: An easy, laid-back bar that the internet tells me has a Midwestern theme. I’m staying on brand with yet another bar in Williamsburg that I’ve never been to.
The Time: Monday May 7, 8pm. I move in a week so this is my last chance to try some more spots in the ‘burg. When I get to the brand new bar near me where I planned to imbibe tonight, I find it’s already shuttered! (Not everyone can make it in this town, I guess.) I'm about to consult Yelp when I look across the street and see a bar I’ve never been to, so I go there. It feels a little like spin the bottle, where I spin around, point, open my eyes and it's like, “well guess I’m making out with Burnside tonight.”
The Vibe: Pretty empty and calm on this Monday night. I make my way toward the back where the bar is. I walk by tables of a few friends, some couples. There’s shuffleboard! But no one’s playing. All of the surfaces in here are burned-looking - is that intentional? Because the name is Burnside? Anyway. It’s a nice big space, lit by dim Edison bulbs, pretty basic upscale dive bar. I say this with a good amount of love because I think bars like this are necessary; they provide an essential middle ground between divey and classy, you know? Right after I sit down, I realize I’m next to a Tinder date! She says she opened a tab, and the first thing he says is “cool just takin my masculinity.” Glad it’s not me on this first date. He asks if she’s competitive. She says in some ways. Then they go to a table! So disappointing, I want to know in what ways she's competitive!
The Bartender: Stoic, quiet. He does the jobs that are asked of him (pouring a beer, making a cocktail, swiping a credit card) then he either minds his business or looks at his phone.
The Drank: Half Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale. It’s beer, it’s cold. It’s $7. I think the “Midwestern” part of this place is the fact they have cheese curds. That’s Midwestern, right?
Was I Hit On?* No, the first date couple come back and I’m way too invested in them to think about literally anyone or anything else in this bar. When they order a second round, the guy asks the bartender if he can switch out his card for hers then he proceeds to drop his entire wallet and all its contents on the floor. Karma’s a bitch, Jason. After he picks up his various cards and loose change, they start talking about past relationships. He’s recently out of one after eight and a half years. She was “kinda seeing someone but it was too much work.” Then they go back to their table! This is like starting a show at your parents’ place because they have cable, then trying to finish it on your own but you can’t because you DON’T have cable. Fucking tragic.
Should You Drink Here Alone? I cannot think of a reason why you shouldn’t. Burnside is a nice bar, especially chill for this neighborhood. It's 100% fine, even if the most interesting thing about it is the people who inhabit it. Oh, and if you go, can you check on Jason and Hayley for me?
*Addendum: As I’m leaving, I see a woman sitting at a small table with an empty chair across from it. She calls out to me “excuse me beautiful I wanna read for you tonight” and I’m initially struck by the fact that this is the first time I’ve ever been catcalled by a woman, and then I’m like, fuck it’s because she’s a tarot card reader.