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Bia Garden - Very strange place

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You walk into what looks like the front end of a deli or butcher shop with a walk-in refrigerator. An asian women will greets you and request you to wait regardless whether anyone is even in the restaurant. We were third in line. We waited about 20 mins. A man then escorted us back thru the still working walkin cooler which they have converted into a halkway leading to the outdoor seating in the back. The place was empty except for the two table that waited ahead of us.

This is strickly a Japanese Beer Garden. They have a nice selection of Japanese beers. I was with my wife and we both wanted to try different beers. Here is the kicker. You must order the beer either by the six pack or case. However, you only pay for what you drink and return the rest. A large bucket of ice is sat on the table filled with the case or six pack of your choice. If you what to try 4 different beers, you get 4 six packs. Hunting down a waitress to open your next beer gets so annoying and they will not leave a bottle opener on the table?

Maybe, I've lived in Philly to long. Is this NYC cool?

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    1. Just went this week. A bit of a disappointment. Not much of a beer garden and the food was just ok. And very salty. Someone had a heavy hand in the kitchen. This place had so much promise but kind of misses it for me. Unfortunate.

      5 Replies
      1. re: StrongIsland

        I agree that it's underwhelming. It's also super annoying (and a bad business move) to serve bottles but refuse to give tables their own openers so that you have to wait--a long time when it's busy--for a waiter to open the beer that's sitting right in front of you.

        1. re: sholli

          I keep a little bottle opener on my keychain for situations like this. You never know when you'll need to open a bottle of beer.

          1. re: Bob Martinez

            By Japanese beers, do you mean the ones brewed in Canada, or the US of A? Are there any Japanese, or Indian, for that matter, beers brewed over there in Asia?

            1. re: Bob Martinez

              Ha - my keychain has just such an attachment. Very useful, especially when you least think you'll need it!

            2. re: sholli

              I guess they figured out that if you sit massive amounts of beer in front of someone, they drink more. Otherwise, it is a very silly and annoying experience. It is harder to snag a waiter for a bottle opener (which they will not give you) as it would be to just ordering a beer. Any economy of saving time waiting for a beer (which is sitting in front of you) is wasted tracking down someone to open it. Of course you can bring your own bottle opener but the practice is still scurvy
              I also hate this fake ritual in which every group is individually paraded thru the walk-in cooler as you stand outside of an empty beer garden.

          2. >Maybe, I've lived in Philly too long. Is this NYC cool?

            More likely it's NYC real estate. The chef/owner is also an architect who knows how to put together a more formal space (e.g. BarBao on the UWS). Here he seems to be going for a much more casual vibe, and apparently couldn't (or didn't want to) drop big bucks to totally tear apart an awkward space for what is essentially a pub.

            Haven't been yet myself, though I'm curious. Here's an earlier report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/649926. As ross notes, Bia Garden is Vietnamese, not Japanese.

            Seems to me those who can roll with the unconventional setup might find it worth checking out. Those who can't should move on.

            More important, though, what did you think of the food?

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            Bia Garden
            154 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002