‘If this guy calls me “Buddy” one more time, I’m going to castrate him,’ I thought to myself, after my bartender said it for the third time.
I’ve been to the P.J. Clarke’s in New York (the one on Hudson), and knew it wasn’t any good there, so I had no reason to believe it would be better here. It was set up squarely to go toe-to-toe against Old Ebbitt Grill, and that’s about the level of quality I was anticipating – I was right.
Condescension aside, my bartender was actually the type of person you’d want working in a crowded, noisy, three-deep, beer-swilling happy hour. Even though I was there during an off-peak time, I could tell he triaged with aplomb, and knew the miserable, overpriced beer list well enough. He asked me if I liked hoppy beers, and I said no, malty, and he did as well as he could do – a bottle of Sam Adams ($7).
It was tempting to get a hamburger since that seems to be P.J. Clarke’s “specialty,” but I went for something a bit more culinary: Shepherd’s Pie ($16-ish (prices are not on their online menu)) which arrived in less than five minutes. There are Irish overtones to this American red-checkered tablecloth tavern, and the menu does indeed mention “local potatoes,” so I figured the ones on the Shepherd’s Pie might be good, and they were. Unfortunately, everything lurking underneath was pretty much at the same level as what you’d get at Skankville Irish Pub – tough, stringy meat that’s downright shameful, a few vegetables tossed in – seemingly frozen, but who knows for sure – and lots of brown gravy. Fortunately, there were plenty of mashed potatoes on top to mask the pain, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t finish every bite because I hadn’t eaten all day long and was starving. I’ve surely had worse Shepherd’s Pie than this.
I asked the busser for my check, and he looked over at my bartender and gave the “finger neck slash” sign that I was finished, so I paid and quietly got up to leave.
As I was walking out of the nearly empty bar, I thought to myself, ‘Please don’t do it. Please don’t.’ But he did.
I was about eight feet away from the bar, walking towards the exit, and I heard a boisterous, “Good night, Buddy!”
Without breaking stride, I turned back at the neck, made no eye contact, and said in a louder than normal voice, “GOOD NIGHT BUDDY!” And then I walked out the door.
One and done.