Brass MonkeyWinding my way through the Meatpacking District and practically out onto the West Side Highway, I thought maybe Mapquest had once again led me into a dangerous and exotic scene of violent cussing and frantic cell phone banging. The brutal sun setting over the line of personal metallic combustion-driven transport boxes, and getting no bars to speak of on the aforementioned communications device, I was about to throw myself under a stinky seafood rig and stay the night on the cobblestones, when the Brass Monkey materialized mere feet from the edge of nothing. Exaggerated adventure aside, I stepped inside to a dark wood interior that instantly settled my work-ditching jitters. I practically had the place to myself at this almost happy hour hour, and sat at a comfy stool at the bar to order myself a cold-ish Guinness. The beer was served with professional flair, and was just one of like forty beers to choose from (my brain could only say Guinness at that point). Waiting quite a bit for my buddies to join me, I had a chance to check out the well-crafted interior, with its high ceilings, large exposed brick wall and tastefully low lighting. It does remind me a bit of its sister bar, Pioneer, down on Bowery in terms of the wood and brick interior that is somehow both upscale and classic bar at the same time. When my two colleagues did finally find their way to Little West 12th (as apposed to the “big” one), we had a good time chatting with the attractive and knowledgeable bartending crew and watching the poor saps in the ties try to look like they weren’t jealous of my jeans and t-shirt ensemble. We drank enough to leave a place with what we had heard was decent food–and great sounding choices on the menu–for a fruitless foray to The Spotted Pig for a Roquefort burger. Needless to say, that didn’t work out, and our lack of sobriety kept us from finding our way back to the bar to get our Shepard’s pie or steak sandwich. While we didn’t stay until what would traditionally be real primetime on a Friday night, the joint felt like it wasn’t going to get ridiculously crowded, and that we could have snagged one of the great booths and had a really decent time until we turned into pumpkins, or feared for our safety so close to the highway. This one is definitely going on the repeat list. [MF]

55 Little W 12th St. (bet. Washington St. & 10th Ave.)