Bar Spotlights Grub/Spirits — 20 July 2011
The Ainsworth: A Bar Spotlight

The Ainsworth
122 West 26th Street near Sixth Avenue, Chelsea, (212) 741-0646
Getting There: 1 to 28th Street

Far be it for us to meander away from our comfort zone. Tuesday night, the Yankee game on, the summertime- we felt it necessary to take it up a notch and (gulp) stray away from a typical visit to a dingy, divey pub, that smells more like the morning after a Frat party, than a desirable spot to get some food and catch a ballgame. Tucking our button down shirt into our khakis, we settled on Chelsea neighborhood favorite, The Ainsworth.

Both classy and comfortable, The Ainsworth is hardly your typical American sports bar. Most striking perhaps is the place’s sheer size, estimated at a whopping 6,000 square feet. Moreover, the bar has 40 large flat screens on display at all times, making finding a decent seat on a football Saturday or Sunday almost impossible. A departure from the bar stools and sticky countertops served by a white-haired Irishman, The Ainsworth opens with a large host stand directly in front of the entrance, with some of the nicest looking hostesses and bartenders in Manhattan. Behind the hostesses, sit a row of green pine trees, over which the glare of ballgames illuminates the rest of the bar. The modern looking and spacious dining area is rustic and wood-planked, decked out with dark brown tables and chairs and is dimly lit with chandeliers for intimacy, although the energy inside might suggest otherwise.

If the size of the entire place doesn’t impress you, the clientele sure will, especially on a weeknight. Since The Ainsworth is considered an upscale sports bar, it shouldn’t shock you to find cliques of business men, decked out in suit and tie all around the bar. More surprisingly however is the fact that because the space is classier, it’s become a sports bar that even women embrace, so regardless of the day of week, The Ainsworth always seems to attract a sizable crowd.

The bar offers up some notable beer-friendly drink specials ($3 Bud Light and Yuengling draughts, M-F, 5-8pm and watermelontinis and cosmos for just $5), but at its core, it remains a sports bar in Manhattan ($11 vodka drinks!). While it’s truly the scene that brings patrons to The Ainsworth, often the dining tables, seating an estimated 375 patrons, are completely filled. Just like its decor, the menu strives to serve classic American bar fare, but turned one notch up. For instance, comfort foods like chicken tenders ($12), nachos ($12), and baked mac and cheese ($9), sit alongside the Peking duck burrito ($12), tuna tartar tacos ($16), and St. Louis ribs with cole slaw ($12 half rack, $19 full rack). Entree options are limited to about six choices, but between the aforementioned appetizers, a burger menu including a goat cheese stuffed lamb burger, and an ample pizza and sandwiches list, there’s plenty to choose from. The food itself ranged from relatively pedestrian to decent, but it simply served as a backdrop for us to nosh on whilst pounding beers, people watching, and cheering on the Yankees. Leaving content after an energetic work night out, it seems that The Ainsworth did its job.

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