Selected Events (08/14) + Today’s Featured Pub (Midtown West)

Today’s Elite 8+ > FRIDAY / AUGUST 14, 2015

“We search the internet everyday looking for the very best of What’s Happening, primarily on Manhattan’s WestSide, so that you don’t have to.”
We make it as easy as 1-2-3.  (click on links for complete event info)

Music, Dance, Performing Arts
>Billy Hart Quartet (through Aug. 16)
Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Ave South, at 11th St. / 8:30 +10:30PM, $
“Mr. Hart is a drummer of earthy enlightenment, conversant in every branch of modern jazz but forever connected to its root. His quartet — with the tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, the pianist Ethan Iverson and the bassist Ben Street — will draw partly here from its most recent album, “One Is the Other.”(Chinen-NYT)

>The Birdland Big Band (Guest Conductor, Rob Middleton)
Birdland, 315 W44th St. (btw 8/9 ave) / 5:15PM, $30
(sit at the bar and this cover includes a drink)
“Founded by drummer and musical director Tommy Igoe, the Birdland Big Band
plays the finest Jazz, Latin and Brazilian music from the world’s best arrangers.
critics are calling it “the best live music bargain in all of NYC!””

>Frank Sinatra Centennial Celebration, Part 3
54 Below, 254 W54th St. / $35-$45
“Frank Sinatra would have turned 100 in 2015, so there are a whole lot of tributes to Ol’ Blues Eyes this year. Performers in this one include Sal Viviano, Brian Charles Rooney and Christopher Johnstone.” TONY

> Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca (through Aug. 15)
West Park Presbyterian Church, 165 West 86th St. / 8:30PM, $20-$50
Noche+Flamenca-Antigona-Brothers+War-Photo+by+Chris+Bennion+++038“There are many ways of retelling Sophocles’s “Antigone,” and thanks to this company, flamenco is now one of them. In “Antigona,” the artistic director Martín Santangelo has adapted the Greek tragedy for 14 performers and four musicians, with choreography by the troupe’s irrepressible star, Ms. Barrio.”(NYT-Burke)

>Ben Allison Quintet (through Aug 15)
Birdland, 315 W44th St. / 8:30PM +11PM, $
“Bassist Ben Allison is one of the most compelling bandleaders in town, a jazz composer who keeps his work contemporary and accessible without either pandering or overintellectualizing.” (TONY)

> “Cymbeline” / Shakespeare in the Park (through August 23)
Central Park, Delacorte Theater / 8PM, FREE
a fairytale tucked within a tragedy. Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe in the Bard’s romance where cross-dressing and fake deaths move the plot. this is one tough ticket
– if you qualify, try the new line for seniors 65-plus at the Delacorte Theater.
– take your chances with the online ticket lottery (click here to learn how)
– or try the new ticket lottery at the Public Theater near Astor Place (instructions here).
(seniorplanet.org)

Smart Stuff / Other
(Lectures, Discussions, Book Talks, Literary Readings, Classes, Food & Drink, Other)

> NYC Restaurant Week Summer 2015 (LAST DAY)
Various locations and times; $25 for lunch, $38 for dinner
Enjoy the summer edition of Restaurant Week (actually three weeks) of prix-fixe three course meals at many of the city’s best restaurants. Mangia!

ELSEWHERE, but for photography buffs this looks worth the detour:
> “The Fence” in Brooklyn Bridge Park
Begin at Jane’s Carousel, Brooklyn Bridge Park / FREE
a 1,250-foot outdoor photo installation, this exhibit features work from 40 professional photographers from around the world. a unique site-specific exhibition aimed at fostering conversations and exploring new thematic directions in photography. best of all, it is in Brooklyn Bridge Park, NYCity’s newest park and a small gem of an oasis.

Have time for only one event today? Do this:

> Inaugural Exhibition: AMERICA IS HARD TO SEE
Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort St. / 10:30AM-6PM, $22.
“It’s finally here! The new improved Whitney home in MePa that’s supposed to finally put to rest the museum’s rep as the also-ran of New York’s major art institutions. As designed by international starchitect Renzo Piano, the building is certainly big, with 63,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibition space. The Whitney inaugurates its new home with this massive permanent-collection survey spanning eight decades. Covering four floors in roughly chronological order, the show relays overlapping histories about the Whitney itself, the development of modernism in America and the country’s transition from cultural backwater to overweening superpower.” (TONY)

“With high ceilings, soft pine-plank floors and light-flooded windows and terraces, the galleries of the new Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum in the meatpacking district are as airy as 19th-century sailmakers’ lofts. Art feels at home in them, and the work in the museum’s top-to-bottom inaugural exhibition is homegrown. Culled from the permanent collection, it mixes bookmarked favorites by Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe and Jasper Johns with objects and artists that the Whitney had all but forgotten or just brought in. As a vision of a larger America, the show is far from comprehensive; as a musing on the history of a particular New York institution over nearly a century, it is very fine, smartly detailed and superbly presented.” (Cotter-NYT)

Bonus – Jazz Picks:
Many consider NYCity the Jazz capital of the world. Here are my favorite Jazz clubs, all on Manhattan’s WestSide. Check out who is playing tonight:
Greenwich Village:
Village Vanguard – 178 7th Ave. South — villagevanguard.com / 212-255-4037
Blue Note – 131 W3rd St., nr 6th ave. — bluenotejazz.com / 212-475-8592
55 Bar – 55 Christopher St., nr 7th ave.S. — 55bar.com / 212-929-9883
Outside Greenwich Village:
Dizzy’s Club – Broadway @ 60th St. — jazz.org/dizzys / 212-258-9595
Birdland – 315 W44th St.(btw 8/9 ave) — birdlandjazz.com / 212-581-3080
Smoke Jazz Club – 2751 Broadway, nr.106th St. — smokejazz.com / 212-864-6662
Special Mention:
Caffe Vivaldi – 32 Jones St., nr Bleecker St. — caffevivaldi.com / 212-691-7538
a classic, old jazz club in the Village, Caffe V often surprises with a wonderfully eclectic lineup. It’s my favorite spot for an evening of listening enjoyment and discovery.

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♦ Before making final plans, we suggest you call the venue to confirm ticket availability, dates and times, as schedules are subject to change.
♦ NYCity, with a population of  8.5 million, had a record 56 million visitors last year and is TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Top U.S. Destination for 2015.  Quality shows draw crowds. Try to reserve seats in advance, even if just on day of performance.
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A PremierPub / Midtown West.

Russian Vodka Room / 265 W 52nd St (btw 7th/8th ave)

Sure, you could travel to Minsk or even Brighton Beach, for an authentic Russian experience, but why bother. On those days when you feel you must wash down your dish of kasha with a few glasses of icy, cold vodka, the Russian Vodka Room will definitely satisfy your urge.

From the outside this place looks a bit drab, and with no windows, a bit mysterious. Midtown tourists walk right by on their way to see “Jersey Boys,” just down the block.

lThose in the know enter a secret hideaway, a dimly lit front room with soft jazz playing – a perfect spot for an illicit late-night rendezvous, or maybe a meet-up with your Russian spy handler, but that’s later in the evening. Early in the evening the large U-shaped bar fills with the after work happy hour crowd, a group made very happy by the much reduced prices.

Their website says: “Welcome Comrades”. Of course, this welcome focuses on dozens of different vodkas, including their own special infusions, which marinate in giant, clear glass jugs visible around the room. The large vodka martinis ensure that you won’t confuse this place with your mother’s Russian Tea Room.

But man does not live by vodka alone. Eat some food, especially the tapa like appetizers. Be decadent and try the cheese blintzes with chocolate, or try a main dish like beef stroganoff with kasha.

Your best bet is to go on a night when the piano man is playing. This guy, who looks like he has eaten a lot of those cheese blintzes, plays five nights a week from 7 to 12 (no Mondays and Thursdays). When the piano man is playing American pop tunes, and you are at the crowded, dimly lit bar testing the horseradish infused vodka, that’s when the RVR shines.

It’s the kind of place where the noise gets louder and the crowd gets happier as the happy hour goes on. I’m generally a beer guy, but I like to come here with a group of friends. We find a table in the back room near the piano man; we eat, and we drink vodka ‘till it hurts (and it will hurt).

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Website: http://www.russianvodkaroom.com/
Phone #: 212-307-5835
Hours: 4pm-2am; Fri-Sun closes 4am (that could be trouble)
Happy Hour: 4-7pm every day
$4 shots infused vodka (2oz), $5 cosmos; $4 czech draft beer
Music: FR-SU; TU-WE / 7pm-12am
Subway: #1 to 50th St.
Walk 2 blk N. on B’way to 52nd St.; 1 blk W. to RVR
Confusingly, the Russian Samovar is right across the street, on the S. side of 52nd St.
The RVR, your destination, is on the N. side of 52nd St.
Update: music now includes a sax player with a younger, trimmer piano man. “tiny” we miss you.

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“Pub” is used in it’s broadest sense – bars, bar/restaurants, jazz clubs, wine bars, tapas bars, craft beer bars, dive bars, cocktail lounges, and of course, pubs – just about anyplace you can get a drink without a cover charge (except for certain jazz clubs).
If you have a fave premier pub or good eating place on Manhattan’s WestSide let us all know about it – leave a comment.

 

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