After a warm sunny day of peddling our bikes around NYC’s Governor’s Island, dancing to some pretty funky grooves and drinking beers on a warm sandy beach with a perfect view of the NYC skyline, and afterward taking an unbelievably fascinating stroll on the brand new High Line Park in Midtown, and after completing some rather tedious errands involving a very expensive and failed attempt to get a group corporate discount at Hertz rent-a-car, my date and I finally made our way to the East Village to meet some friends for drinks. Our local NYC friends had decided that we’d meet at a speak-easy called ‘PDT’.
It took some convincing for me at first because at the time the thought of hard alcohol and hot dogs made my stomach turn. We had very empty stomachs and our taste buds had been prepared for sushi and sake as that was our original plan. But our desire to socialize with good friends overcame our desire for the savory flavors of sushi and sake. The much craved spicy tuna roll and unfiltered variety of chilled sake would have to wait. And after our friend’s enthusiastic support of PDT how could we resist. After all, they are the locals so they know the hot spots, right?
Our friends had convinced us that the place was chic and underground and impossible to get in to. Yet somehow, luckily, at the last minute six of us were able to secure a booth that was supposed to seat maybe only four. It must have been a slow night for the PDT. Which was somewhat surprising when we discovered there are some 517 Yelp reviews that give PDT on average four stars (All of this in spite of the bar being named for an acronym of ‘Please Don’t Tell’), so the running joke for my date and I was that it wasn’t much of a secret at all. We joked that New Yorkers just can’t keep a secret…
For those of you who know about the speak-easy in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, which provides some amazing eye candy décor/design to go along with absolutely deliciously crafted drinks, you’ll be romanticized into believing that PDT is similar. It is not. There is interesting decor with the mosaic mirrored bathrooms and the hidden front door is quite original, but for the most part the place didn’t interest me architecturally or design wise. Even the lights over our booth looked like they had come from Home Depot. No doubt though that you enter through a phone booth in the back of the hot dog restaurant is intriguing and amusing. But I am not sure it’s enough for me. It’s almost as if the place wouldn’t be popular at all if not for this one gimmick that gets people talking. As for the phone booth itself, if you didn’t know it was an entrance to a bar you’d think you can use it make a phone call on that old vintage phone. As did one unlucky hot dog restaurant patron who entered the booth with the intent of making a call and was understandably startled when the wall beside her opened up suddenly and there emerged some hipster dude with fresh alcohol on his breath.
After making our way through the secret phone booth door and squeezing ourselves into the seating we began perusing the 15 or so page drink menu. There was a food, or rather a ‘hot dog’ menu on the last page that actually had some interesting looking dogs. We opted for the ‘Hummer’, a delicious veggie dog smothered in onions and hummus. The waitress seemed completely oblivious to the irony when later on she returned and asked us if we wanted another ‘hummer’. After spending way too much time reading about all the different drinks, I decided that I would have the ‘Bee’s Sip’, which was made with a shot of sake (yes, I still needed to satisfy my sake craving). It was a great choice! The most popular drink at our table ended up being the Mezcal Mule. I stuck with the Bee’s Sip for my second round too. The others had opted for a drink blended with egg whites and some serious pepper spice that I found to be downright undrinkable. It should be known that the novelty of drinking your protein with alcohol is not necessarily a good idea.
We enjoyed our drinks, dogs and conversation over some fresh tator tots with nacho type cheese dip and, as it wasn’t too loud (One of the bar rules is to not talk too loud. There are other rules I’ll discuss later), we were able to hear the music without defeaning ourselves. The music was a mix of different styles of pop but was for the most part pleasant. It was definitely not super hip music or anything. Whoever was spinning seemed to be either reliving the 80’s or perhaps discovering it for the first time.
As I mentioned, PDT has some rules to consider if you decide to go. One of which is that there is no ‘PDA’ allowed at the PDT. This doesn’t seem right to me, as you would expect an ‘underground’ place like this to be a likely choice for a first or second date between new lovers. I am quite sure the rule is often broken. Another rule is that you aren’t allowed to use your cell phone for anything except ‘texting’. I suppose ‘sexting’ should be prohibited in the confines of their establishment as well.
Gimmicks aside, PDT was an okay place with friendly enough service but it was expensive for what you get and some of the drinks were sort of gross. BUT, please don’t tell anyone!