ML Happy Hour: I Finally Get To Write About Live Bait!
If you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so I thought maybe it was time to introduce a happy hour column to the site. Every week, our Happy Hour Correspondent “Mamacita” will post about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap.
I’ve been pushing Zach to let me do an out of bounds happy hour at one of my favorite bars, Live Bait, for months now. Yeah, I know it’s all the way over on 23rd Street, but the N,R trains are practically next door and some things like great food deals and a lively, fun atmosphere are worth going out of your way for. Its reputation as an excellent neighborhood bar has recently infected the forums and LB has started to come up as a possible commenter happy hour location. With this as my leverage I asked again this week if I could do a review and finally broke the poor man down (women have a way of doing that.) With the green light to go forth and imbibe I grabbed my date and headed over to take advantage of their sweet down-south happy hour.
Live bait is easy to spot. It’s right across from the park and flanked by a boring Quiznos and a nail salon. The sign is hand painted and below it, in neon, reads two words: “Bar Restaurant” –need we say more? Yes, actually we should, because Live Bait brings more to the table then just food and drink. There’s always a crowd in there at any point in the day and the sound of lubricated laughter can be heard from outside inviting people in.
The patrons vary from 20 something’s in their flannels and Converse to more mature folks in strictly business attire. I’ve noticed a propensity for young, hip, pierced and tattooed female bartenders.
My first time at LB I was standing outside reading over their menu when a regular approached me and insisted I come in with the guarantee I’d love it. Patrons are very inviting in this way and the kitschy vintage décor all around makes for good conversation starters. There are stuffed alligators, vintage baseball cards, boat propellers, mardi gras beads, tin signs, and the 50’s back dinning area, complete with an impressive mounted sword fish distinguishes it from the usual carbon copy bar.
There’s are some shot specials for $3 that I would suggest you avoid, they’re mostly mixed sweet liqueurs. Focus on the great selection of drafts and if you are a cocktail drinker they have you covered with a full stock of spirits.
Happy hour (4:30-6:30pm) includes $5 draft beers and a satisfying selection of $5 meals including peel and eat shrimp, jalapeno rings, ½ dozen clams or oysters, and buffalo/BBQ/honey wings. Also on the list were chili cheese fries and fried calamari, which we couldn’t resist.
The calamari was very tender yet with a golden crispy coating. It was almost better then the plate I got at City Lobster yet it oddly came with a chunky tomato soup that had a slight clammy undertone. I wasn’t sure if it was meant as a dip for the calamari as there wasn’t any of the usual cocktail sauce or tarter on the side?
Both my date and I have been disappointed in our attempts to find good chili cheese fries so we were eager to test out Live Bait’s rendition. The chili on the fries seemed homemade with abundant beef, beans and crushed tomatoes but slightly sweet for my taste. The cheese sauce was a bit on the “Kraft singles” side where as I would have preferred real cheddar. Regardless, the vast array of hot sauces available made this girl a happy camper and turned a good meal into a delicious one.
- Though out of bounds, the jovial atmosphere and happy hour deals of Live Bait surpass many local ML joints
- Dinning area in the back with table service for lunch or dinner if saddling up to a bar is not your style
- I was too full to order them on this visit, but the under a buck fresh blue point oysters are a bargain during happy hour
- Because the bar is so popular, even in the early afternoon, you might have to opt for the back table service section to get a seat
- Too far and too short a happy hour
- I’m really not into the whole Louisiana and down south theme or food
Live Bait, 14 E. 23rd St., near Madison Ave., 212-353-2400