Fat Cat, NYC

The TARDIS of NYC bars, it’s bigger on the inside. But instead of traveling thru time and space, you get to drink, hear music and play games.

I was quite literally giddy the other night. I felt those same butterflies in my belly that a kid would feel on Christmas morning. My eyes wide, my smile wider. I gazed around the room as if I had found a secret treasure. I didn’t know where to look first.

Pool, shuffleboard, ping-pong, foosball, chess, checkers, scrabble, backgammon, live music, Belgian beer, assorted nuts, coffee. I had clearly walked into the TARDIS of NYC bars.

This place is called Fat Cat (75 Christopher St, NYC). Maybe you—like me—walked past it’s unassuming entrance dozens of times. From the street, it looks like any other small, dark bar. But making that assumption would be a mistake.

I learned that after walking thru the door and down the flight of stairs. I had no idea what was in store for me. I was there to meet my friend Pam, who had just recently moved back to NYC from LA. We wanted to find a place near the ‘1’ train since that would be convenient for both of us. Reading that this place would have live music clinched it for me.

But it was my first sight of a cavernous array of gaming tables that grabbed me. Games of all sorts. You pay by the minute for ping-pong, shuffleboard and pool. You pay a flat rate for board games and foosball. This place is incredible. I can’t stress that enough.

The music tonite was provided by a string quartet and a jazz combo. The sound in this place is so pristine that when the music started, I could have sworn it was coming from an iPod. Crystal clear, dynamic. Sure, much of that was due to the talent of the players, but it’s also another remarkable feature of this massive arcade of a place to have such good sound.

Make no mistake. Despite all the games and distractions, Fat Cat is a serious music venue at it’s heart. With real, honest-to-goodness jazz venues in such short supply in NYC, I can’t believe a place this good went unknown to me for so long.

Playing tonite were Choi Fairbanks String Quartet followed by George Braith & Friends.

There’s a fine selection of beer and wine here. I tried the Allagash Dubbel which had a nice kick to it. It’s a darker, red Belgian brew with a higher than average level of alcohol. I then switched to the Allagash White, which is a more traditional Belgian wheat beer.

There are three containers of nuts on the bar, thankfully well labeled to keep grubby hands of patrons off. Although the order of the labels reads “Self” “Not” “Serve”. I’d later find out, this was done on purpose. If I remember correctly, the nuts are $1.00 per scoop and you can order full scoops (about a cup) or a mix of 1/3 scoop of each.

If you want (or need) a caffeine fix to get you thru your night of many game choices, they serve what I overheard as being very good coffee. I myself never touch the stuff.

And finally, here’s an amazing inside look at Fat Cat courtesy of logikbomb.

See Also:
Fat Cat
Allagash Brewery
Choi Fairbanks String Quartet
George Braith & Friends

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