TravelNoise: Ethyl’s, New York City
Let me tell you something about how to have a good time in New York: the formula is fairly easy. Find a place with dim lighting, a great DJ, cheap drinks and cheap food. You’d think no such place exists, at least in Manhattan, but you are so wrong. I have been persuaded over to the *dark*, *secret* side of New York City, and it’s time that you were too. Welcome to Ethyl’s.
When I first trekked up to Ethyl’s on the upper east side, it was 1 a.m. on a Saturday night and I remember dancing my ass off. This time, I was bringing a guest at 8pm on a Wednesday, and we were planning to indulge in their dinner menu as well as their cocktails — dancing optional.
Upon first glance, Ethyl’s does look like a club. Your ID is checked at the door, the lights are dim and the focus is on the bar and the dance floor. Depending on the day you go, you could walk into a full-on boogie session or bingo. My guest and I walked into Wednesday’s weekly bingo, and we couldn’t be more pumped. We were seated in the back of the restaurant, next to the dance floor. The vibe of the place is very ‘70s-’80s disco with old metallic tables, bar dancers and retro clips playing on a projector.
The menu is even more eclectic: drinks with fun names like Bump & Grind and dishes like french onion mac n’ cheese, we knew we were in for something special. Our waiter recommended the Bump & Grind, which is made with Russell’s 10-year Reserve Bourbon, ginger syrup, sweet vermouth, lemon juice and burlesque bitters, and we both decided to try it. As for the food, we asked him to send out a good range of plates. He chose for us the famous $5 burgers (yes, they’re full-size and you can order them all night!), the french onion mac n’ cheese ($11), the herb fries ($5) and the Chinatown ribs ($9.99). Essentially, this menu is made for drunk people.
The drinks came out and they were small, but very strong and delicious. As we sipped, some of the items trickled out. The $5 burger was juicy and flavorful, and not too thick, while the french onion mac n’ cheese, which was served in a soup pot, was smoky and just the right amount of stinky. Then the fries, which were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, arrived, which we wished we would have saved the burger for. Finally, the Chinatown ribs were crisped and flavored nicely with a chutney-like accompaniment. The glaze on those ribs were almost too addictive. Beware of these, for your own safety.
While we ate, we played bingo. My guest and I could barely keep up with the pace as we were so focused on gorging on these plates, but I won a rape whistle, so there’s that.
At the end of the evening, my guest, who has been to Ethyl’s to party countless times, came away with a different perspective on the bar-restaurant. I did, too, though I maintain that this place is meant for dancing feet. Now, I’ll come to dance and save room for some grub after cutting a rug. For the avid partier and serious foodie, Ethyl’s is the place to be.