In a neighborhood full of bars and restaurants, its surprisingly difficult to find a neighborhood bar. Where every new establishment seems to be designed for mass consumption, it’s nice to find a less forced atmosphere, a place that you might stop into even if you weren’t planning to have a drink. You stop because you saw someone you knew sitting at the bar inside or you just know it will be a comfortable place to hang out for a bit. That’s a neighborhood bar.
Longfellow at 12th and Clay in OTR is that spot. The vibe captures the friendliness of the neighborhood as well as the artsi-ness and enthusiasm of the creatives folks who have made downtown their home. It’s so nice at Longfellow, I almost don’t want to tell people about it. Too many people could ruin it.
Tucked into it’s space, Longfellow is easy to walk past, and even on busy weekends, a lot of people walk by, oblivious, or in the case of younger people ready to party, unimpressed. That’s fine with me. While the bar is busy on the weekend, it’s not stupid crazy. And, despite the influx of unfamiliar faces, Longfellow still retains the feeling of an old comfortable watering hole.
Though it’s fun on weekends, during the week it’s a bit quieter and that is my favorite time to go. There’s always a decent crowd. I’m a bourbon on the rocks woman, and the pours are good and the selection is fine. This is a bar to have a cozy drink, not explore the world of alcoholic possibility. The price is set with tax included, marked as inclusive on the bill, so the amount is even…no coins for change. This is a thoughtful detail.
The food offerings are small and weird. Cottage cheese? Why not?! Truthfully, cottage cheese is a great thing to munch on if you’ve been drinking. The cheese and meat boards are cut to order and use quality ingredients. Same with the salads and sandwiches. My favorite is the scrap sandwich, literally the pieces of meat and cheese too small to put on the cutter, but too big to waste. Everything about the scrap sandwich is good.
The space is small and low key with a wooden bar that curves around the bar and food prep area. The music they play is mostly older and eclectic. The place is well-staffed for a little bar, so you don’t have to wait long to be served, and you have a chance to chat with bartenders. That kind of connection, the elusive “Cheers” quality is part of what makes neighborhood folks feel like Longfellow is part of the neighborhood, not just another place to have a drink.