Mixed Feeings about Greenwood Park
We had an appointment cancel, leaving us with an unexpected open afternoon, so my wife and I decided to take a stroll on this gorgeous day over to Greenwood Park, the new pub/beer garden that opened recently in the neighborhood now known as Greenwood Heights. We got there about 1:30 or so in the afternoon.
Overall, we enjoyed our visit and there are some very appealing aspects to the place. But, for us at least, there are some not so appealing aspects as well.
My wife had their house Pinot Grigio, which she liked well enough, and I went with beer. I had three different beers throughout our visit, and I thought they were all excellent — chilled well, crispy, clean tasting. It seems like they're paying attention to their beers, which is always a good thing.
Maureen had the watermelon salad, and I had the Italian sausage hero with an order of fries. We both liked the food well enough. My sausage sandwich was actually quite good, worth a visit entirely on its own. We asked for the fries to be crisp, and the bartender said he noted that, and they were, in fact, nice and crisp (and piping hot).
All well and good, and all reason enough for us to return. But there were a few things that we wish they did differently.
For example, I'm not crazy about beer in plastic cups, but that's what they use at Greenwood Park. So if you don't care about that, no problem. It's not a big enough deal for me to not go back, but I'd really rather drink my beer out of a beer glass.
And it seems a little odd that the bartenders don't give you a glass of water when you ask for one. Instead they tell you that there is this large tank at one end of the bar that has water, so you go and get a small plastic cup and get your own water. Again, not a big deal, but why not just serve up a glass (even a plastic glass) of water?
The lack of condiments is another niggling thing. The fries, which were very good, were under-salted, so I asked for some salt. What I got was about 7 or 8 of those tiny envelopes of salt, not a salt shaker. No pepper either. They did serve ketchup with the fries, but it was a dollop in, you guessed it, a small plastic cup. Not enough even when one person (my wife) doesn't use ketchup.
Maureen's salad came in one of those boatlike coated cardboard containers like they give you at the ballpark when you buy a hot dog. A plastic bowl would have been better. Yet again, not a big deal, but not that great either.
I asked about the hot dog on the menu and the bartender told me they didn't have any toppings, just the hot dog and either ketchup or mustard. Again, not a big thing, but that's why I didn't order one. I was in the mood for some toppings, maybe some sauerkraut or onions, something...
When we left, about two hours later, the place had begun filling up. There were maybe 20 adults or so, and maybe 6 or 7 kids, all running around, one on a scooter. We realized that it was that time of afternoon when this large space becomes a kind of mini-day care center, so it was time for us to go.
All in all, we liked Greenwood Park, the size, the space, the informality, and the quality of the drinks and the food. We'll go back on another afternoon, before school lets out, and try some more things and silently wish that they would change a few things. But we won't really care that much.
We visited back at the end of June. I've got mixed feelings too. First the positives.
There's a nice selection of beers and plenty of space to spread out and drink them. Noise levels are comparatively low. (For a contrast, walk past the Standard Bier Garten in Manhattan which is underneath the High Line. You can hear the crowd shrieking more than a block away. The NY Times took a sound meter in there and found it was as loud as a jackhammer.)
On the negative side the outdoor area is sort of charmless, blasted by the sun and with precious little greenery around to soften the space. Umbrellas are nice but they only go so far.
I really can't criticize them for this. They haven't had 30 years to grow big trees like they have at Astoria's Bohemian Hall. Still, I can imagine that more shade would be welcome in July and August.
The inside space is pleasant enough in bare bones industrial sort of way. Not so bad.
I came away liking it well enough but I haven't gone back. I'd certainly give it another shot, if only because it's relatively convenient to me.
For those that think I'm being somewhat picky I suggest they visit the Williamsburg locations of Loreley and DBA. They're smaller with better ambiance.
I also wasn't wowed by this place. The primary reason I probably won't go back is the mile+ walk from my home. That and the roughly 100 better bars I'd pass along the way. I was only there once, probably back in mid July. I found the vibe there strange--though that's not entirely the fault of the bar.
One of the issues I had with it was the relatively low number of seats given the amount of space they have. DGF and I ended up sharing a table with a bunch of annoying "kids" who couldn't have been a day over 22 years old. When that got to be too much we went into the bar room itself which didn't feel comfortable at all. We left after having two beers each.
jen kalb: i'm not sure they're avoiding dish-washing so much as avoiding liability with unbreakable bar ware. With all of those little ones running around, a broken pint glass in the gravel would be a nightmare to clean up.
I realize my negative feelings towards the place aren't entirely fair. If I lived closer I'd definitely go back and probably enjoy it. But for me it's just too far away, and it is by no means a destination.
I am only interested because we liked the biergartens and beerhalls in munich so much - they seem to be able to deal wih the glass situation ok - I dont recall plastic cups in biergartens. to me, you cant enjoy looking at the beer when served in plastic and the plastic reeks of a sort of friday night swilling atmosphere and huge plastic cups for the frat boys (I remember some places down by the south street sea port of this ilk. I much prefer a beer garden to a bar atmosphere.
re: jen kalb
There's probably a thread on this already, but have you been to the Kolner Bier Halle (or whatever it's called) on St Mark's in the north slope?
They have an amazing selection of german beers and they practically fetishize the glassware. I, for one, plan to invest a large amount of time there once the weather gets a little grimmer.
re: jen kalb
i think its a combination of avoiding dishwashing and minimizing the amount of glass getting everywhere when people inevitably drop them (its not, in my experience, uncommon to find places that do serve beer in real glasses that use plastic on patios and the like where the hard flooring would be less forgiving than wood/other indoor materials). I agree that serious beer deserves real glasses, but i guess i consider greenwood park more of a beirgarden/large party venue which happens to serve much better than id expect beer given the setting, and not so much a serious beer bar with massive outdoor space/tvs/games.
re: jen kalb
Bohemian Hall in Queens has been serving beer in plastic glasses for years.
ETA - Oops. I was wrong. The pictures I took this past may show plastic glasses but in September of 2011 they were using real glasses. In the interests of research I really ought to go back and drink 4 or 5 beers to resolve this question.