Barfly: Mountain Bar

If I had to be completely honest – and by the very virtue of being Barfly, I do – Mountain Bar would score a perfect middle on any scale of greatness. In fact, I almost had to use a thesaurus to find enough synonyms for "counterbalanced" to describe this far-from-great-but-not-nearly-shitty bar. The great music is negated by the lack of people dancing to it; the playful setting is rescinded by the pretentious crowd; and the delicious selection of booze is abrogated by the watery pours and expensive prices. (Okay, so I used a thesaurus.)

The point is that for every single thing that will make you want to keep coming back to Mountain Bar (the friendly doormen; the elaborately-decorated downstairs bar, the music) there are things that will make you want to run towards the nearest living thing and kill it (the bartending staff; the woefully disappointing upstairs bar, the bathrooms).

For example: One of my top five favorite beers of all time is Delirium Noctornum, a strong, dark Belgian that usually runs from $11 to $15 per glass. The Mountain Bar has it for $8, which was très exciting, until the stone-faced bartender handed me what looked to be about a three-count pour in a brandy snifter. If you ever think to yourself well, I guess you get what you pay for when you order a bar's "special," it isn't.

After taking my overpriced beer shot, I ordered up a couple Red Bull and vodkas for some friends, whose faces immediately soured. When I sampled one myself, I became convinced the bartender got his mixology muddled and somehow added soda water, or dishwater, or maybe some Red Bull, but certainly not any discernable vodka – and these cocktails were more expensive than the high-brow beer. Look, it's pretty hard to screw up a RED BULL and VODKA. ESPECIALLY if you're gonna charge $9 per. ESPECIALLY if you expect me to drink it in a room packed with 50 people watching three people dance. ESPECIALLY if all of your couches are ripped and the only other décor is three light bulbs with chalk on the walls and there's an insanely long line to get in and you're located in Chinatown, which I'm pretty sure isn't close to where ANYONE lives.

But all of these quibbles could be vindicated with incredible ease by changing just one thing: the service. Barfly could just as readily be called Bartenderfly because the tone and experience of any hackneyed club scene, any musty dive, any sports bar or cocktail lounge or Irish pub will only ever be as enjoyable as the people behind the counter, and this is where Mountain Bar's astronomical potential miserably fails.

With such a rich history, and such an eclectic selection of live performances, you would think the bar would have service down to an art as refined as their tile floors and oriental lamps. Unfortunately, the management seems to have left this one necessity at base camp, leaving Mountain Bar stranded half way up its promising peak.