Tag Archives: old-fashioned

Chop on the Spot: Griffith’s Tavern

Part of the appeal of any neighborhood bar is being in a spot where “everybody knows your name,” but as we discussed in a previous post, a little anonymity can go a long way sometimes. There are times when a man wants a little solitude; not too much, just an hour or so to sit in the dark, not be bothered, have a drink and be alone with his thoughts.

It’s at times like these- these blessed, quiet hours, that you might find the Chop in Griffith’s Tavern with a cold draft and our phone turned off, hiding in plain sight. Griffith’s is truly the best of both worlds- the place where the bartender will learn your name and your drink, but where you’re guaranteed not to run into anyone you’d rather not run into.

Griffith's Tavern... the bar that time forgot.

In a way, hiding in plain sight is what Griffith’s does best. It sits there right on Hickory, just a block up from the Avenue smack in the dead-center of Hampden proper. It’s still pretty easy to miss though, being as non-descript as a bar can be. There’s comparatively little traffic passing that corner, and even some of the Hampden locals who pass the place on foot mistake it for being either a private club of some sort, or being closed down entirely. The small sign with business hours posted is the only clue that it’s actually a functional bar. Being attached to the back of a rowhouse, with solid steel doors and tiny, barred windows the place is willingly uninviting from the exterior.

On the interior, it’s nothing less than the bar that time forgot. Stepping inside the door is literally like stepping back in time. Wood paneling is the predominant theme, accented by a nicotine-stained drop ceiling, an ancient, never-refinished wooden bar, and a Bud Light clock over the video poker machine which looks to date from about 1985. One flatscreen TV jammed up in the corner is the only nod to modernity.

The flashback continues behind the bar, where you’ll see a few things that are tough to find in some bars these days; glass-door coolers with cans of Busch, pints and half pints of liquor for carry-out, snack food and a “medicine cabinet” stocked with singles of Tylenol, Advil, and Bayer, which come in handy in the kind of bar that opens at 9 am and has no food menu. There’s even an old coffee pot behind the bar.

Of course, the regulars at Griffith’s don’t notice anything being out of date, because that’s just the way things have always been. Griffith’s caters to Hampden’s last genuine Hons. We’re not talking about the neck-tattooed, Newport-breath, recovery program ‘Hons’ you find in Zissimo’s or Dmitri’s either. Griffith’s is like the beauty parlor; the place your mom and your aunt get together to gossip about the neighbor’s kids. A $2.50 draft is cheaper than a perm. Much like a salon or a barbershop, the conversation here is general. Anyone can take the floor and put in their two cents at any time, and not be thought rude for doing so. Or you can just sit back and listen. You don’t even have to listen that long before you hear a few good digs at the expense of a certain Hampden restaurateur.

Griffith’s may not be the best choice for Saturday night. It’s not the bar you pick to meet a friend for dinner. If you’re looking to flirt or meet someone, you’re definitely in the wrong place. But if what you seek is a cold beer and a peaceful hour, enjoyably spent then there may be no better bar in Baltimore.

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The Chop Announces the Death of Voicemail

Some of you may know this already. Some of you may be scoffing and cluck-clucking and clicking away from this page.

Still more of you may be shocked. What’s the meaning of this? Voicemail is alive and well. I just left a bunch of them this morning. Well, people still play vinyl records and sit through the Latin Mass, but you know what? They’re both dead, and so is voicemail.

This kind of technology is about as current as voicemail.

Either way, it’s got to go on record.

Most people have no idea how to leave a proper voicemail. Some of you don’t even know how to check your voicemail, and those of you who do know often don’t bother. Of the few who do bother, most of you do it only to get rid of the little icon on your phone screen, and we suspect you’re not even listening to the messages you receive. With the ubiquity of cell phones, you’ve already seen who called and guessed or found out what they wanted.

The Chop remembers a time when there was no such thing as a voicemail. Even then we hated leaving messages on “answering machines”. Most of the messages we’ve heard in life have consisted of half umms… and uuhhhs…. and any one that contains a phone number has to be listened to a minimum of two times. Enough already.

As slow as we were to embrace text messaging technology, we go on record today as embracing it fully and happily.

As of today, the Chop is not leaving any more voicemails for anyone. If you can’t answer your phone, we might hang up and send you a text (since this seems to yield better results anyway) or we might even just give up and call someone else. Likewise, don’t leave us any more messages. Just text. Seriously, we’ll get right back to you.

You don’t even have to wait for the beep.

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The Perfect Fathers’ Day Gifts at the Quinntessential Gentleman

In the heated, noisy, and sometimes treacherous downtown streets, the Quinntessential Gentleman is nothing less than an oasis. The shock of comfort and relief a man feels when crossing their threshold is much the same as what the desert wayfarer feels encountering the shady stream or the drifting sailor feels upon washing up on the shore. We know this firsthand; the QG will not just give you a haircut, but provide you aid and comfort as much as you like, and send you off ultimately feeling like a new man whose been given a fresh start.

We told you earlier this week about Rodney Henry, who built his pie shop from the ground up, virtually creating his own market through a constant attention to quality and tradition. Craig Martin has a similar story, and the QG’s unrivaled skill, attention to detail, and posh environment have made them an invaluable asset to the state of Maryland.

Bosca Tribeca leather messenger briefcase. $300.

Comparing the QG to your average barbershop is something on the order of trying to compare a limousine to a bicycle. One look around will assure you that this is no ordinary barbershop. Not only does their wide range of services outshine other shops, but their lounge is head and shoulders above most downtown bars and restaurants. They’ll hold a bottle of your favorite spirit for you, or float you a cold beer or a hot cup of coffee or espresso to enjoy while you’re shooting pool, brushing up on your putting, or taking advantage of the free wi-fi.

What keeps you coming back though is the service. It’s well nigh impossible to go up South Calvert without double checking the back of your neck or the shine on your shoes. Even if you’re hair is in good shape, it’s hard to beat a chair massage and a glass of whisky on the rocks for a little me time. When those geniuses came up with that ‘Find Your Happy Place’ nonsense, they were probably sitting around inside the QG.

QG Humidor Starter Kit. $60.

No matter what sort of dad you’ve got, the Quinntessential Gentleman has something great for Fathers’ Day. We’d highly recommend sending your old man there with a gift card in hand, and if you’ve been asleep at the switch this week you can even browse the menu and print gift certificates out online, which is incredibly convenient.

Even if dad’s not close to downtown, you’re still in luck, as QG offers an ever-increasing selection of accessories and accouterments from high end shaving and styling products to that most traditional of Fathers’ Day gifts, the necktie.

Stewart Stand Money Clip. $30.

While we’ve got to admit that many of their offerings are a little too novelty-esque for our own personal taste (think sports logo cufflinks and ties printed with little repeating jolly rogers), we did find plenty to like in the way of Fathers’ Day gifts. If the Chop had rugrats running around, we’d be thrilled to receive the Stewart Stand Bi-fold Money Clip which is on offer at half of its original $60 price and is perfect for any time you won’t need a full wallet.

We were also quite taken with the Parker Heavyweight Safety Razor. Safety razors have seen quite a resurgence in the last couple of years, and those who use them seem to swear by them. At $45, this thing will likely last forever and pay for itself once you quit buying grocery store cartridges at almost $2 a pop.

Parker Heavyweight Safety Razor. $45.

Some of the best looking cuff links in the store are also the most reasonably priced. The Celtic Cross design is a hell of a lot classier than that ‘kiss me I’m Irish’ button the old man likes to break out on St. Paddy’s day. Matching tuxedo studs are also available if you’re sitting down to dinner.

The Chop does not approve of smoking, but if dear old dad is given to enjoy cigars from time to time, the Humidor Starter Kit will look great in any study. It’s a QG original, and the kit can hold up to 50 smokes and includes an incredible amount of value for only $60. They also carry several high-end cigars in the shop.

QG's Celtic Cross Cufflinks. $45.

Finally, the Bosca Tribeca Leather Messenger Briefcase is something of a lavish gift at $300, but good things cost a good sum. The truth is that this is of such quality that you’ll likely inherit it someday, and it’s stylish and beautiful enough that you’ll actually want to.

Additionally, online orders (save gift cards) are now 10% off until Monday, 6/21 when you use the code “dadgift” at checkout, or you can save that 10% in the store by mentioning that you’re a fan of QG on Facebook.

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The Quinntessential Gentleman is located at 31 S. Calvert Street downtown. 410-685-SHAVE. They accept walk-ins and appointments 7 days a week.

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Chop on the Spot: George’s of Mount Vernon

You might be surprised to hear it, but the Chop fully approves of hotel bars.

Most often we find ourselves in one when we’re overseas. Many times hotel bars are the cream of the crop, and some countries’ bars are found to be so wanting that the hotel bar with the western visitors is the only place you can count on getting a decent drink poured and not have to put up with a lot of the unsavory things that are prone to happen overseas.

The clientele in a hotel bar is, obviously, mostly out-of-towners. They seem to be of a few certain types, which are easy to identify at the hotel, but are fairly rare away from it. There’s business travelers, who are pretty straight-laced, and then there are people who travel a lot for work, who aren’t what you’d call “businesspeople” and pretty much drink from the time the trade show closes until it opens again. There’s cougars and hospitality employees and tourists and even the Chop.

Geroge's is located inside the Peabody Court Hotel at the west end of Mount Vernon Square.

Sometimes the Chop needs a break. Sometimes we just get tired of Brewer’s Art and Dionysus. Sometimes we want to drink in a place that’s actually not a basement, and be served by someone in a tie and not a Dead Boys T-shirt. It’s times like this when we hie down to one of Midtown’s best kept secrets, George’s of Mount Vernon.

We’ve been to George’s a few times for dinner, and are never disappointed. The ambiance is hard to beat, the food is delicious and without pretense, and the service is much more personal and friendly than you’d expect in such a place. It also doesn’t hurt that the prices are set so that one can easily pick up the check on date night.

We didn’t get the full benefit of George’s though until we went there for happy hour. The bar in there feels more like home than any bar in the city. But not like your fixer-upper Hampden rowhouse… like a really, really nice home.

The 12′ ceilings, crown molding, 10 foot windows, chandeliers, and posh leather furniture all give the impression that you’re in the sort of place that Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein drank when they lived in Baltimore, and hell, maybe they did. There’s something nice about stepping back into the jazz age for an hour, and a stiff old-fashioned in this place will set you right. It’s just the thing to brace you up for the travails of modern life.

Best of all? George’s happy hour is Sunday- Friday, and all beer, glass wines and rail drinks are 2-for-1.

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George’s is in the Peabody Court Hotel, 101 W. Monument Street in Mount Vernon. (410) 727-1314.

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