Friday, November 27, 2009

The danger of telling the world about your favorite place

When you find a truly great place, a tiny gem in a field of rocks that look like chain restaurants, you cherish it and visit it often. While you love it, you are often hesitant to tell people about it, lest it become played out, crowded, and suddenly, a different place altogether.

For stores, or events, who cares if there are 100 people there. If you know the store owner, you might even get a heads-up when new gear arrives. But a restaurant you like to go to on Friday nights? Or a coffee shop with four seats? Dilemma.

There's a restaurant near the house I rented with friends in DC called Two Amys. When it first opened, it was a neighborhood gem. Tucked on a side street behind a popular Mexican restaurant, it subsisted mostly on overflow from that restaurant and maybe Cafe Deluxe. It had great pizza and a cozy little bar in the back that was perfect for meeting friends or a date, but it also had no parking and no "lobby." All of this made it charming and kind of a local favorite. Then it was discovered by Washingtonian in 2003 and picked for the cover of its Cheap Eats edition. Suddenly, the place was overrun by suburbanites desperate to escape the duldrums of their strip-mall Pizzeria Uno and California Pizza Kitchen. You couldn't get a table there on a weeknight, let alone a Friday. Even takeout was a problem, since the front of the restaurant was clogged with people waiting for a table. Parking in the neighborhood, already at a premium, became a nightmare. We stopped going there and found other neighborhood places that were just as good, but undiscovered.

Imagine my horror when the place all the hipsters have been buzzing and Twittering about was discovered by the Morning Call's Retail Watch. Word on The Bookstore Speakeasy (336 Adams Street, South Side Bethlehem) is out.

it's a book...
...actually, it's the drink menu.

When Beata, Jorge, Courtney, Mark and I went last week for cocktails and microbrews after work, we were impressed. The place is cool - can't say I've ever been anywhere like it - but it isn't cheap. But that's what everyone said last week: The El Vee, Lehigh Valley Style blog and LV Scene all wrote reviews, Lehigh Valley With Love gave it a shout-out, Channel 69 stopped by, and Retail Watch proves again just how out-of-touch The Morning Call is. If you are thinking about going, check out the menu online and read at least one of the reviews so you don't look like a rookie. Here are a couple of tips: It is located between Fourth Street and the Trans-Bridge bus station. There is no dedicated parking, just meter parking at lots and on the street. The door says "THE BOOKSTORE" and you have to push open a curtain inside to find the bar. The Bookstore offers a limited menu, but the owners just introduced a prixe-fixe dinner menu, $35 for four courses (not bad), Thursday-Saturday between 5-7 p.m.

Best cocktail on the planet: the sidecar. At The Bookstore, it costs $11.00.


  1. Tell me about it :( At least the bartender knows me now. I usually try to get in there as early as possible, but the jazz isn't playing then. Hopefully the crowds will die down in a few months but I highly doubt it.

  2. This place is easy to love... thanks for suggesting it the other night!