Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
I stopped by Trick Dog last night for two reasons. One was to drink. The other, more of a man hunt.
Only on its fourth night, around 6:30 pm, the two-level bar opened by the Bon Vivants (Scott Baird and Josh Harris) was packed. I'm simultaneously working on a story about men's fashion and I figured Trick Dog would have some plum specimens milling about. Any bar started by two guys who look straight out of a Deadwood set is sure to lure them in. Sure enough, there was no shortage of cuffed jeans, dark-rimmed, Oliver Peoples-y glasses, and facial hair—the kind of men who are attracted to wide-lapeled cardigans and housemade bitters. Thankfully, Trick Dog isn't going for a speakeasy vibe, so the notably friendly bartenders, though properly tatted up, weren't sporting page boy caps and vests.
The best part of the space might be what it's lacking: reclaimed wood. (Don't get me started—it's the trend that won't die and my rant of the month. See some fresh-off-the-barn examples here and here.) Trick Dog does have a lot of industrial, vintage touches, and, yes, Edison bulbs. But as a whole, the space is handsomely hip. Snacking on things such as Sweetie McNuggets (fried sweetbreads) and Scotch eggs goes on on the mezzanine level where tables are set with white tablecloths (making me wonder if tablecloths were so shunned that they've been reborn with a sense of irony).
The menu is cleverly printed on a Pantone color chart, which is a bit unwieldy if you're with a group trying to figure out what to order. The cocktails are of the sort that feature pointedly specialized ingredients that take some time to Google, not to mention put together in a shaker. You know the sort. Their St. Elmo's Fire has Denizen white rum, Amaro Averna, pineapple, coconut vinegar, allspice, and lime. Grandma's Sweater, which we liked very much, has Beefeater 24 gin, Rabarbaro Zucca, blood orange, lime, mint, bitter lemon soda.
From the time I muscled my way to the bar, imploringly stared down the busy bartender, and shouted in and received our order of four cocktails, the process took about 30 minutes. I don't think it was because the bartenders were sloths. They were all working hard. I just think this kind of slow service is inevitable when a bar is making these kind of cocktails—especially if the bar is slammed. This gripe been thrown around since Bourbon & Branch was born in 2006 (though I personally think table service, like B & B, is the way to go). Years into the mixology movement, it's clear that bars of this ilk aren't going to change, no matter how much they say they're going to simplify or speed it up. As a customer, we should know what we're getting into and it's up to us to decide whether it's worth it. Which is to say—starting in 2013, it's not the bar, it's you. Or in this case, me.