While in New York, we were Couch Surfing with a lovely lady named Emily. There were two places she really wanted to take us, Crif Dogs, a hot dog shop, and Please Don’t Tell, a “secret” bar. John left for London a day ahead of me, leaving us just enough time for a girls night out.
Emily has been to Crif Dogs a few times and knows what she likes. She ordered the veggie dog with standard toppings: onion, tomato, cucumber and jalapenos pepper. She also tacked on a large bag of tater tots. I was tempted to follow suit but realized I was in the mood for something a bit more interesting.
Like a little kid, I decided to top my veggie dog with some of my favourite things, giving no thought to how they’d taste when combined. I chose a plain veggie dog and added avocado, pineapple, caramelized onion and pickle. I know this probably sounds gross to 99% of the people reading this. I was skeptical too but put on a brave face and chowed down. To my pleasant surprise, it tasted pretty good. There was only a little bit of avocado and pickle, the onion and pineapple came out on top. The toppings didn’t freak me out but the veggie dog did. It tasted extremely close to how I remember real hot dogs. Thankfully, Emily was there to reassure me I hadn’t been fooled, pointing out they cut the veggie dogs in a different way to keep them from being confused with the meaty ones. She was kind enough to share a bite of her dog (I liked mine better) and some tater tots. Our eyes must have been bigger than our tummies because we barely made a dent in the massive bag. In the end, we left them on the side of the road for a (really!) hungry person to pick up.
I found Crif Dogs’ underground sit down area to be kind of dingy. However, they did have a cute black and red colour scheme and pin up girl wall mural that I liked. Their traditional veggie dog cost $5.00, while my bizarre version was just over $7.00 with taxes. A bit much, but that’s NYC. In retrospect, it seems like a wicked deal compared to our next stop.
At Crif Dogs, there’s a phone booth on one of the side walls. From the outside, it looks innocent enough. Turns out, it’s actually the entrance to Please Don’t Tell (PDT), a “secret” bar. Emily first discovered PDT one day while enjoying a veggie dog. She noticed people going into the phone booth but never coming out. After doing a bit of searching online, she discovered what was going on and realized it was the entrance to a new bar. With the story of her discovery, she had no problem convincing me to join her. I found a lot of negative reviews online (some with titles like please don’t tell…any more people about this crappy bar) but they didn’t persuade us to reconsider. We wanted to go. Neither of us had been to a secret bar and figured this was a rare opportunity we just had to seize. We made our reservation, which we had to phone in same day, exactly at 3:00 p.m. when the lines opened.
We finished our veggie dogs and were ready to enter the bar right on time for our reservation. As we discretely made our way towards the phone booth, ready to enter via the hidden door, we were instantly let down. We missed the chance to pick up the phone and whisper our names. Someone was on their way out and held the door for us. We awkwardly squeezed past, through the small entrance, only to be greeted by a door woman who said there was no table ready for us. She offered a seat at the bar. No thanks. We looked around and saw several free booths. We were able to convince her to let us sit at one but she curtly noted we’d probably have to move in a minute. Bad start.
We figured the drinks would be pricey but our eyeballs almost popped out of our heads when we saw they were $14.00 USD each. Crazy, I know. I tried to justify by telling myself it was my last night in NYC and there was no point in carrying the US currency with me to the UK. I’m not usually this frivolous, I swear (When John reads this he’s not going to be impressed…eeek!).
After carefully reviewing the cocktail menu, I choose The Mariner (left), a blend of Compass Box Oak Cross blended malt scotch whiskey, pineapple and lemon juice, and smoked cardamon syrup. Emily went for The Paddington (right), made with Flor de Cana Silver Dry Rum, Lillet Blanc wine, lemon and grapefruit juice, Bonne Maman Orange Marmalade, and St. George Absinthe. If I could do it over again, I would have been gutsy and gone for the Gold Coast, which had dill (<3), vodka, Swedish Punsch and black pepper essence.
I like cocktails, I can appreciate a good cocktail. I’m willing to pay more for something interesting. These, however, were not worth $14.00 a piece. The mixes were unique, I’ll give them that. They also had jazzy black napkins. I’m sad to say we couldn’t taste the value.
Unless you like blowing loads of money on drinks, I wouldn’t recommend this place. The condescending list of “PDT Etiquette” rules posted in the bathroom confirmed our feeling that this bar wasn’t for us. What kind of bar posts rules about talking to others, playing games and public displays of affection? Gosh…
I know a secret bar sounds cool, but you can definitely afford to miss this one.
113 Saint Marks Place, New York
Please Don’t Tel
113 Saint Marks Place, New York