By JEN CHEN
Click the photo for a slideshow.
After I retired from writing the Night Ranger column last fall, I needed some decompressing, and I've been rediscovering the joys of having my weekends free again. But I’ve been venturing out again more lately. And I find that I’m drawn to Westport. I have a newfound appreciation of the area. I used to avoid it on weekends; I hated dealing with the traffic that often blocked the intersection of Broadway and Westport Roads, as well as the unpleasantly packed bars.
Now, though, things are much different. As one of my interviewees pointed out for this week’s cover story, there’s more of a laid-back vibe to the place. I love the variety of locally-owned restaurants and bars (mmm … Au Poivre burger at Blanc. Westport feels like a neighborhood again, rather than a weekend destination that attracts the popped-collar, d-bag set.
During my Saturday night stakeout, I was surprised and saddened that so many places were so quiet -- though I liked the fact that I could easily get a table on the patio of Harry’s. My friends and I sipped drinks there and people-watched, though there weren’t a whole lot of people to actually watch. A drunk couple stumbled down the street, and an array of folks in outfits that would be forbidden at P&L sauntered by. Near us, a guy in a Mercy Seat Tattoo hoodie and baggy shorts sat with his friends, which included a pink-martini-swilling woman in spiky heels. On the elevated patio, I recognized Patrick Froman, whom I think I described as a “scenester” in past NR columns. He was on his way out to head to the Riot Room.
“This patio is done,” he jokingly pronounced. “It’s empty now. It used to be good for checking people out. Where are the hotties?”
“Whatever. I saw you here last weekend,” I said.
After that encounter, my friends and I talked about how Westport seems more diverse. My friend Scott recently went to the P&L with a group of gay guys. He said that the P&L lacked the alternative types – i.e. the tattooed, the pierced, etc. “I felt more self-aware at P&L. I think Westport is more accepting,” he said.
Later in the night, we stopped into my new favorite place, The Foundry. It’s run by the people behind McCoy’s and One80, and it’s connected to McCoy’s through the old cigar room. The Foundry bills itself as something like a “’70s retro dive bar,” but it’s more retro-chic than dive. I liked the ‘70s-inspired décor and menu (which includes Riunite and Mad Dog beverages) and its big patio. I especially love the fact that it’s bringing the fishbowl back to Westport. Ever since Have a Nice Day Café closed, there has been a sad void in the oversized novelty drink department. I didn’t get to try the Jungle Juice fishbowl, but it sounds lethal. The ingredients: Vodka, peach schnapps, Apple Pucker, triple sec, Bacardi 151, Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill and fruit punch, Sierra Mist and orange juice.
Well, the fishbowl will have to wait until next time. Which will probably be sometime soon.