On the corner of Houston and Ludlow, in the place where Jasper John’s painting studio was reported to be, stands a 30-story glass and metal building. On the ground floor–it’s just down the street from where my friend Greta lived above a bodega (now a boutique)–there’s a steel-lined, over-illuminated storefront. It advertises itself as a Gelato Laboratory, serving ice cream in an antiseptic environment that once served as a heroin shooting gallery. Times (and places) change: hopefully irony survives.
Any way…across the street up First Avenue is a nice little French bistro named Lucien, with beautiful lettering on nearly every perimeter surface and a small country wooded bar smack in the middle of the restaurant. That’s where I order a Sagres (in the mini bottle) from a beer menu that’s not quite as inspired as its surroundings. The mini bottle is served with a mini glass but it does matter too much how your drink this Portuguese pale lager.
Sagres opens quickly with a burst of refreshingness, like a splash of water on the face, and just as quickly hits you with a kind of plastic Bud. Backpackers seem to enjoy it as a alternative to European beers in the same lackluster ilk and you can muster through the mini with a certain amount of pleasure intact. But, unlike Schaefer, can you have more than one?
Rating: 40% off the backpack circuit.