Just a few years ago, it would have seemed an unlikely prospect: a hip bar district cropping up on what is essentially the homestretch of a four-lane highway. While Park Slope’s Fourth Avenue may never have been the most pedestrian friendly of the borough’s thoroughfares, it can now boast of more than just gas stations and fast food restaurants.
In fact, the block of Fourth Avenue between St. Marks Place and Bergen Street now has 53 working taps — thanks to newcomers like Pacific Standard, Fourth Avenue Pub and the Cherry Tree Tavern— sending suds down the bar on any given night.
Convenient as it is to the Atlantic Avenue trains, this burgeoning nightlife district is attracting scores of visitors from all over the city, and with the big rigs roaring by anyway, they can feel free to be as loud as they want. GO Brooklyn spent a night on this stretch of Fourth Avenue and can report that the hotspots below are packing in the crowds — not strollers! — and making their mark on the neighborhood.
Cherry Tree Tavern
Cherry Tree, by far the loudest, rowdiest, flashiest member of this newly formed fraternity of bars, was the first to arrive, and did so with flair and gusto, throwing a memorable midsummer pig roast in their backyard in 2006. They lionize the “Drunks of the Week” on an oversize chalkboard, own and operate a beer pong table, have a fully functional funnel behind the bar, hold the “Beer Olympics” every few months and keep shooter girls on retainer for their bigger events. Beer is available in 100 and 140-ounce glasses.
You might say it’s a drinking bar.
For the most part, the bar minds its Ps and Qs. Its mahogany bar is long and its back patio is multilayered; the pizza ovens are made of stone and filled to the brim with hot coals. The pizza is decent, with crispy burnt thin crust and basil on top. But it can take forever, especially when the place is crowded, which it often is.
There are certainly some negatives, especially if you’re crotchety (read: over 24). The music is too loud, the crowd is young and occasionally overeager and the staff is super-psyched about everything, which can come off a little overbearing at times. But on the whole, the place is well managed and has done much to prove that an ambitious bar can be successful in this area.
The Cherry Tree Tavern (65 Fourth Ave. at St. Marks Place in Park Slope) is open daily, from 11 am to 4 am. For information, call (718) 399-1353 or visit www.cherrytreebarnyc.com.
Fourth Avenue Pub
Fourth Avenue Pub was next to arrive, opening across the street just a few months after its Cherry Tree neighbor, with whom it has a healthy rivalry. (This reporter definitely found a Wi-Fi network called “Fourth Avenue Pub Sucks” when working on his laptop at Mule, the coffee shop with bottled beers and DJ nights that sits next door to Cherry Tree.) Fourth Avenue Pub has a slightly more laidback, mellow atmosphere, perhaps because it’s usually less crowded, and the crowd is a bit less young.
We chalk this up to the fact that the focus here is more on the beer than anything else: the bar has 24 beers on tap and another 31 in bottles, many of them unique picks not otherwise seen in the area.
But as great as the beer selection at Fourth Avenue Pub is, there’s still something slightly off about the place. The beer is sometimes a little flat out of the tap, and the outdoor space in back is big, but cluttered and uninviting. They have free popcorn, but it’s stale. They have Ms. Pac-Man, but the controller is busted. Occasionally, Dave Matthews Band has been heard playing on the digital jukebox.
If Cherry Tree is a cocky frat boy, Fourth Avenue Pub is his creepy uncle who still likes to party. It’s worth a stop, though, if just to have a pint of “Arrogant Bastard Ale.”
Fourth Avenue Pub (76 Fourth Ave. at Bergen Street in Park Slope) is open Monday through Friday, from 3 pm to 4 am, and weekends, from 2 pm to 4 am. For information, call (718) 643-2273 or visit www.myspace.com/4thavepub.
The newest addition to the stretch, having opened just two months ago, Pacific Standard brings a West Coast flair to the block. You notice it the minute you walk in: something is different here. The lights are brighter, for one, and there is evidence of a literary sensibility in the hodgepodge of books on two large shelves in the backroom, where you can often find games of trivia being played. Best of all, the bar has great West Coast beers — Lagunitas, Stone, Bear Republic and, of course, Anchor Steam — on tap.
And despite its California dreaming — glass-topped tables have Bay Area baseball cards encased in them; the bar is stocked with chips and salsa; and “It’s-It” ice cream sandwiches, a Left Coast obsession, are available for just $3 — the bar, with it’s bearded hipsters and young, bookish types, is unmistakably Brooklyn.
Pacific Standard (82 Fourth Ave. at St. Marks Place in Park Slope) is open Monday through Friday, from 4 pm to 4 am, and weekends, from noon to 4 am. For information, call (718) 858-1951 or visit www.pacificstandardbrooklyn.com
Sheep Station, named for Australia’s version of a ranch, is a bit farther down, but definitely worth the trek. Serving a number of beers and wines from down under — nine different bottled beers and, their sole tap offering, Baron’s Black Wattle Seed Ale, is a new arrival to this country — the spot, which also dishes out food like traditional meat and veggie pies, burgers and mint peas, is a fine new way for wool to keep you warm.
With its candlelit tables and cozy ambience, Sheep Station attracts more than its share of couples on dates early in the evening. Later on, it is a popular meeting place for post-college arrivals to the neighborhood.
Sheep Station (149 Fourth Ave. at Douglass Street in Park Slope) is open daily, from 4 pm to 4 am. For information, call (718) 857-4337 or visit www.sheepstation.net.