New Thing #289: McHale's Bar & Grill

McHale'sWhen I planned my Sunday in New York to watch football, there were a couple of parameters we needed to work around: -The place we went to had to be near 53rd Street and Avenue of the Americas, which is where the bus drop off and pick up happened

-The Jets game would need to be featured prominently, with the rest of the football games available to watch

-The place needed to be relatively affordable.

I thought we'd be drowning in choices in that section of midtown.

But when I got off the bus, it took longer to find an appropriate place than I expected.

Finally, I found McHale's Bar & Grill.

My brother gave me some good advice - he didn't have a specific place to recommend, but he did say I'd fare better heading down towards 8th or 9th Avenue rather than spots close to Times Square.

So, getting off the bus with as much time to spare as I had on Sunday, I was able to scout the area for a place.

I popped into a couple of places around 10am, as the staff was getting ready for the day. It was one thing, I discovered, for them to offer the Sunday Ticket...and another to see for myself whether or not they had enough TVs to show the games. McHale's came as close as anything to offering what I was expecting in my mind. (And, I realized later, New York City - well, Manhattan at least - is not well suited for a large TV screen layout. Most of these places go up, rather than out, meaning their multiple TVs are spread out among multiple floors.)

McHale's is on 51st Street, right off 8th Avenue. Downstairs there's a bar with a few TVs. Upstairs is another bar with a larger selection of screens, including a big screen they lowered from the ceiling to show the Jets.

Turns out, it's a popular spot for lunch for the matinee-going Broadway crowd. (The Gershwin, where Wicked plays, is right across the street.) But that didn't interfere with our game-watching experience. We had the Jets on the big screen and one of the TVs behind the bar, with the Browns-Lions game on another TV and the Eagles-Buccaneers game on another. (There's also a back room where the Packers and Vikings games were on, but they were out of our sight in the other room.)

It wasn't all of the games simultaneously like I was dreaming of, but like I said yesterday, that probably allowed me to be more social with my friends, which is a good thing. (And a lot of Sunday's games didn't go my it's better I was only seeing the occasional score on the crawl rather than watching them fall apart play by play.)

The food was OK...not great. (The highlight was a brussels sprouts with bacon appetizer.) The beer selection was fine.

But the best thing about our day was the fact that we could stay there for seven hours and not once did I feel guilty about taking up a table or the need to move on. (Part of this was due to a somewhat inattentive waitstaff. But that was OK with me on Sunday.) When I tried to find places in Boston where I could watch the Jets (before football on my phone!) I always worried about taking away a prime viewing spot or a television the bar wanted to use for a different game.

And I know I shouldn't feel that way, but certain places ended up making me feel that way.

To its credit...that never happened on Sunday at McHale's.