18 East Fifth St.
What we here in the U.S. know as "bachelorette parties" are called "hen nights" in the U.K., which if you think about it is a much more fitting and descriptive name. If you are ever among a gaggle of liquored-up ladies celebrating a bride-to-be, close your eyes and listen. Cluck cluck cluck!
I mention this because Steve and I found ourselves without any plans on a recent Saturday evening, and on the spur of the moment decided to stroll over to Gangster's and see what it was all about. We didn't know what to expect, but we certainly weren't expecting the dueling piano entertainment to be as much fun as it actually was. The talented musicians know how to work a crowd. The infectious fun encourages merrymakers to drink more, and the more folks drink, the funnier it gets. While we were not at Gangster's for anything special, plenty of others were: Birthday parties, anniversaries, office parties, and an astonishing number of hen nights in progress.
We hadn't made reservations and all the tables were booked, so we were directed to the bar. My first impression was that of a strip club; low lighting, lots of mirrors and neon, padded pink and mauve chairs, and even a stripper pole on the dance floor. Yes, you read that correctly. There is a stripper pole on the dance floor. I imagine that these days it's there more for drunken sorority girls to hold onto than it is for actual pole dancing, but hey, you never know.
A friendly server greeted us and throughout the course of the evening really went out of her way to make us feel relaxed and welcome. When she learned I am vegetarian she immediately pointed out which appetizers and entrees were veggie-friendly and was able to make recommendations on both the food and drinks menu. As the evening progressed and elbow room shrank, she was still able to work the room with aplomb, never wavering from her amiable attitude.
One look at Gangster's menu and it's obvious that this place is first and foremost a bar - albeit one with dueling pianos - than it is a restaurant. We sampled several items: nachos ($8.95) and Italian cheese wedges ($7.95) for me, and potato skins ($6.95) and chicken club sandwich ($8.95) for Steve. Nothing was remarkable; it's just your basic, standard issue bar food. The specialty martinis, all sporting gangster-themed names, were much better. I chose the "Pushing Up Daisies" (vanilla vodka, orange rum, orange juice, and a splash of cream and Sprite) and Steve got "Public Enemy #1" (vanilla vodka, coconut rum, lime juice and a splash of cream). Both were excellent.
Now that we know what Gangster's has to offer, I think that the next time we visit we'll make reservations and bring friends. The energy is incredible and the fun contagious. But with all due respect, we'll probably eat elsewhere first.
(Apologies for the lack of photos - I couldn't get any while swinging around the pole!)