There are more than 6,000 bars in New York City. About 200 of them get regular press. This column is about the other ones. Robert Simonson, a journalist and blogger of the drinking life, takes a peek inside Gotham’s more anonymous watering holes, one by one.
Cody's Bar & Grill does not feel like Cobble Hill, though it is situated dead center in the affluent, genteel Brooklyn neighborhood. It feels like Third Avenue. Or Woodside. And its patrons seem to have been bussed in from there, in addition to a healthy smattering of students. This Irish sports bar of more than 20 years standing has seen the area transform from a borderline nabe to real estate gold, but the joint hasn't changed its ways. There are no pretensions here, no allowances for changing times—aside, perhaps, from the local craft brew Kelso newly on tap and selling like hotcakes. Just 18 television screens, lots of talk of sports, and pretty decent hamburgers.
Cody is Kevin Cody, a big fella in a sweatshirt who acknowledges his regulars with a pat on the shoulder as he passes silently back and forth through the room. Among them one night was a woman in a wheelchair, who took what looked to be her usual place at the bar, and was treated with great solicitude. The bar is sometimes listed at Cody's American Bar & Grill, and one can see that Kevin is a died-in-the-wool supporter of true-blue causes from the many plaques adorning the bar wall. Most are from the Police Department, thanking Cody's for its unflagging and generous support of New York's Finest. Unsurprisingly, the place is popular with cops. I wouldn't be surprised if their money was no good here.
Cody's is purportedly a Steelers bar, but on a recent night various attractions on the tube included a hockey game and a college bowl. Look across the bar you see one game, directly above your head another, and behind you still a third. "Go Nebaska!" yelled a soused patron to no one in particular. He pivoted on his stool to face a set to the rear to unleash this encouragement, then returned to face a different TV's match of the day. Some regulars don't get their fill from real sporting events, so they participate in fantasy leagues. A young, Staten-Island-born man with soft, almost pretty eyes and bonhomie to spare insisted he had won a recent fantasy contest and was complaining of not seeing his name attached to a plaque behind the bar honoring this achievement. The outer-borough man mentioned this so frequently that even the laconic Nebraska fan scoffed. "He's got folks coming from out of town to see that plaque," joked Nebraska. The two men and the bartender, however, could agree on the matter of Tiger Woods. He should show some guts ("He so non-confrontational"), divorce his wife ("He screwed that up.") and return to golf, it was decided.
Despite the non-stop sports talk, a fair amount of people do appear to come to Cody's for dinner, ignoring the televisions and concentrating on the kitchen. The waitress is a friendly sort, who will put on mock flourishes like delivering a meal with a grand wave of the hand, or saying, "You check, suh." These touches have their desired effect; they remind people not to get too uppity at Cody's. You want fancy? Step outside and walk a block. You'll find plenty of it on Smith Street.
— Robert Simonson