Spitzer's Corner, an alleged gastropub that opened recently on the Lower East Side at Rivington and Ludlow, has 39 beers on tap. Its menu, designed by ex-Le Bernadiniere Mike Cooperman, is much less ambitious. Six entrees, a splatter of apps and a couple of slimy raw bar items. The interior is prairie sparse. If Laura Ingalls Wilder wanted to go out downtown, she'd probably choose this place. When I sat at the bar recently, the guy who built the place sat next to me. He was explaining to his friend that the wood that lines the walls is made from reclaimed pickle barrels from Minnesota. On my left, a quartet of gently snarpy dudes were getting in an increasingly heated argument about whether the wood was new or old. "Nah, brah!" one man shouted, "they bought the wood new and aged it to look like this." I stared into my burger.
The burger, by the way, adds nothing to the burgeoning Lower East Side burger environment. It's okay but we'd rather make the trek down to Good World or Mogador even in this frigid August.
Then a guy comes up to the bar, a guy like virtually all the other guys there (and they were virtually all guys). Not really a bro or worse, a brah, not prima facie a douche, neither hipster nor litster. "Hey bartender," he said, "got any PBR?" The bartender dressed him down with a single scornful glance. "Just kidding, man!"
"How many months has this Hitachino Nest Ale been aged? Because I only like beers aged for 3 months or so," he said, clearly showing off for his somewhat dour date. The bartender shot back a vacant and mildly loathing look: "I'll have to check with my co-worker."
All night the bartender parried orders and obscure questions from ale enthusiasts who took great pleasure in quizzing him. Some were showing off for the few women there; some were genuinely just beer dorks. This, it might be added, took place at 10 p.m. on a school night. Imagine a Saturday night.