Thursday, October 14, 2010

Studio Square Beer Garden

Two pitchers and a sweet calculator watch
The weather on a Saturday afternoon during a recent trip to NYC was unseasonably perfect. Two of my boys wanted to watch the Michigan-Michigan State game and the rest of us had a hankering for some daytime outdoor drinking. Our host had the perfect solution in mind, so we hopped on the subway and set out for a beer garden in Queens. I figured any place that would make someone want to leave Manhattan must be pretty cool. Studio Square did not disappoint.

Matt, our social chair, gave us the lowdown on the beer garden during the subway ride. Apparently some guys who frequented the other beer garden in Queens decided to open their own beer garden and correct all of the flaws they identified in the original. Some of the improvements include the use of two kegs for each beer on tap a so there is never a kicked keg, the long hoses from the kegs to the taps are refrigerated, all the bathrooms are easily cleanable individual rooms with toilet sink and high velocity hand dryer with infrared heat lamp. In general the operation was run with an industrial efficiency that Henry Ford would be proud of.  The whole place has a crisp modern loft vibe (it was formerly a factory) which appealed to the engineers in the group, but I can see why people complain that it is a bit too crisp for a beer garden. It is not you typical Oktoberfest German beer hall, it's more like a clean sleek chic Berlin Sprokets kind of beer garden.

The open air garden and half of Matt's head

The beer garden is pretty impressive in size. Outdoor picnic tables are lined in an area about the size of two tennis courts. There is also a large indoor space, but we only poked our heads in for a quick look. A place this spacious could not exist downtown.

I had never been to Queens and was hoping the crowd to resemble a Jersey Shore casting call, but attendance was surprisingly sparse that glorious Saturday afternoon, so I cant make any generalizations about people from Queens. The Situation was not ideal for people watching, I think we were drinking during prime GTL hours.

As expected their tap selection consists of a rotation of up to 20 beers, half European (mostly German) and half quality domestics. They have sangria and mojitos on tap and offer gluten-free and non-alcoholic beer. At the time they were offering Sam Adams Cherry Wheat which is just plain gross. Beers are $18 dollars a pitcher so when you're up to buy a round things can get costly. In another engineering move the bar is cash only so they aviod credit card fees while collecting fees from the ATMs scattered throughout the place.

Despite what we were told by the bouncer upon arrival, there were no TV screens in the sunken picnic area, a bit of a disappointment.  We had to look through a railing and a some bar stools to watch the game on a TV above the bar. My view was eventually blocked by some dude who took a seat.

One thing I really appreciated was that they did not play music. It was a welcome change of pace to be able to actually hear the person sitting across from you and have the entire table engaged in the same conversation.

They also had a snack bar which served above average bar food. I really liked the size of the wings and how they were cooked, thou they could have used some more heat. We probably should have tried the bratwurst or kielbasa. They also offered sushi which was pretty strange for a beer garden.

All in all it was a good place to escape the cramped-ness of Manhattan, sit outside, drink some beers, eat some snacks and catch up with old and new friends. Although in hindsight we could have accomplished the same thing and saved a couple hundred dollars if we just drank 40s in Central Park.

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