So, we want to start our search for the best pint of Guinness in NYC with a review of what we hope will become the benchmark pour/pint, one that will lay down the gauntlet to other bars across the city, Le Cheile NYC. We hope to visit, review and of course sample the delights of a different bar each week in our quest to bring you the best pint of Guinness in New York City.
So where is our first port of call and alleged benchmark? Well we have to jump on the A train all the way up to 181st Street and walk a couple of blocks west to an Irish bar/restaurant called Le Chéile (pronounced – “leh kay-lah”) on the corner of 181 & Cabrini Blvd. Before you ask, yes it is Gaelic and not French as the bartenders are quick to point out!
Now at this point we must be open and fair, this is where it all began. Now bear with us here, please… Whilst talking shop with one of the owners, who was looking for a way of increasing the bars online presence, we came up with the idea of a website for the bar which would be named Best Guinness NYC (Yes we were having a pint of the good stuff at the time). After much talk and brainstorming the bar owner put it to us that the name we had stumbled upon was far bigger than just his one bar in New York City and the brand had far more potential and urged us to look beyond his own bar and think big! So we did!
Now although we admit having a connection to this particular bar we give you our word to be be upfront and honest about any bar we visit and review. We aim to only bring you the most accurate and honest information we can. We hope that our passion for a good Guinness and friendly surroundings shows in our reviews each week. We simply thought it fitting to start where it all began.
So, down to business. Le Chéile…
Walk through the door and you are greeted by a very traditional looking interior with plenty of character. Although only open less than three years the bar looks like it’s been here much longer. Park yourself up at the bar and the first thing you notice, is the certified perfect pour by Guinness, a promising start. After the traditional introductions with the bartender, maybe even a quick handshake, we make a quick scan of the bar and see a few Guinness drinkers in, which immediately tells us the Guinness is flowing (very important). The bartender reaches around behind them for a proper 20 ounce tulip glass from a shelf where only Guinness glasses are kept, so no excuse for pouring into the wrong glass here.
Next, the rim of the glass, whether the glass is wet or dry the bartender reaches for a bar napkin and cleans the rim. The glass is then held under the adjacent tap at 45 Degrees and the magic begins. With the nozzle held close to the glass and decent pressure on the handle, the first pour is completed just by the harp three quarters of the way up the glass. It’s then left to settle and tease us as we watch with anticipation. The first pour takes just the correct amount of time to settle, so we know all’s well with the gas and pressure on the lines. The head is also shaping up nicely so we are confident it’s not the bottom of the barrel (it’s difficult for any bar to pour perfectly from the bottom of the barrel). 119.5 seconds later we lick our lips as the pint is toped off with a perfectly crowned head over the top of the glass and not a bubble in sight. A steady hand then places the perfect pint onto an eager beermat hoping for a spill over from the head, but no such luck! The only thing left to do is sit back and enjoy a well poured and great tasting Guinness with friends and enjoy the craic with the friendly and welcoming bartenders.
Although the bar is busy the bartender is aware when our pint is about three quarters of the way down, enquires if we require a second pint. Naturally we do and our second pint is waiting for us as we finish our first.
Aside from possibly having the best pint of Guinness in NYC, Le Chéile is a great neighborhood hub with plenty of regulars that will happily testify to this. We also recommend sampling their menu, as we are confident you will not be disappointed.
Le Chéile has no regular trad in place, but we are confident that the great beer, food, friendly locals, great bartenders and staff, not to mention homely surroundings at the bar will keep you coming back for more.
Not a Guinness lover, don’t sweat, Le Chéile has another eleven diverse beers on tap from Irish Drafts to domestic and craft beers alike.
Specials – Don’t forget to ask about beer and food combos Monday through Friday at the bar. There is also a $4 beer of the day Monday through Friday.
Happy Hour – Monday through Friday 4-7pm
$3 House beers
$4 Well drinks
$5 House Wines
You can keep up with Le Chéile on Facebook and at www.lecheilenyc.com
So there you have it, our first review is in the bag. Le Chéile has set the bar and the challenge is on to find as good a Guinness, if not a better one. We look forward to bringing you a new bar each week. If you think you’ve found the best Guinness in New York City, or you would like us to come and review your own bars pint of Guinness, please get in touch, because I think we can honestly say we’ve never said no to a Guinness!
Next week we travel to the opposite end of the island…