There comes a time in every drinking session when one feels inclined to take a look at the food menu. And if this drinking session happens to be taking place at the Dram Shop, on Ninth Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, you might end up finding yourself to be quite pleasantly surprised. These aren't just bar snacks, these are damn good bar snacks.
There are the Irish Nachos, which substitute fries and bacon for tortilla chips. There's deep-fried mac and cheese. There's chili. But, most of all, there's the burger. And there's also the only pimiento cheese you'll find in the area.
Let's start with the pimento cheese. A staple in the southern states, it's pretty tough to come by in these parts, but they certainly do it justice here. Sharp cheddar chesse is blended with, by my judgement, butter, mayo, pimentos (also known as pickled cherry peppers), onion and garlic powder, and a very heavy dose of dill. Served alongside saltines and Fritos (which you'll probably need to order more of), it's a bar snack for the ages.
I'd been hearing a lot about Dram Shop's burger, so I knew I had to check it out. First a little history, though, courtesy of a note at the bottom of the menu:
"Sixty years ago, the first of our burgers was served at the Mallow Grocery in South Dallas. The secret of this gastronomic treat remained closely guarded and was passed down from my grandfather Lynn to my father Steve, and then to me. In the spirit of true Texas hospitality, I am now sharing his Dallas delicacy with my friends in Brooklyn."
The burger more closely resembles a fast-food burger than any others in the neighborhood, but I guess that's because it first came around before the 12-ounce behemoths took over. Two thin, square patties are topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, diced onion, pickles, mayo, and mustard, and served on a soft sesame seed bun along with a massive helping of top-notch hand-cut fries. American cheese is free, and a third patty and bacon are both a dollar extra. Might as well go for both, and spread a little of that pimento cheese on top while you're at it.
It's a world away from what you'll find at, say, Bonnie's, and the juices certainly won't be dripping down your arm (anything but well done is out of the question), but it's still very worthy of attention, and the double patty is perfectly proportioned. It's basically the best Big Mac you'll ever eat, and after a few craft beers and a couple of rounds of shuffleboard, that could be just what the doctor ordered.
Dram Shop, 339 Ninth Street Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-788-1444. Open until 4 AM.