The Penrose – a bit of downtown cocktail vibe on the UES.

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Photo credit – The Penrose

Ok, to me it’s more like 3.5 stars, and I’m not all goo goo gushy about The Penrose as most are who seem to rave about the place, yet I’ll bump it to 4 stars for the cocktails! Sure, it’s a wonderful addition to the exploding UES/Yorkville bar and foodie scene but there is something about this place that baffles me. It’s as if The Penrose is trying too hard to be trendy and cool, along with a lot of the clientele here. It’s filled with the trust fund popped collar crowd on the weekends and the type of women you’d find in sororities and Gossip Girl type shows. Mainly, it is a 20-something gathering spot which fills with the type of clientele one can expect from the UES. Trendy, fashionable, but casual too. Not really frat boy but not too far removed either. That being said, The Penrose is helping to elevate the bar scene up here which is a terrific thing.

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Photo credit – The Penrose

The bunch of times I have been here ranged from obnoxious shoulder to shoulder overcrowding on the weekend nights, to a serene late afternoon brunch. Yes, this place gets extremely crowded on nights and weekends, and they made some sort of mistake with the acoustics here as it gets so loud at times your ears almost bleed. If this isn’t your scene I would suggest hitting it up mid afternoon on a weekday or during brunch hours as they do have plenty to offer. The tap beer list is pretty diverse and offers a nice craft grouping of a dozen brews to choose from. The cocktails are exceptional. It has a speakeasy vibe with bartenders that know how to mix a proper libation. Long bar area surrounded by some small tables, and plenty of seating in the back room with community tables and some hidden away booths. Another smaller bar is back there too. Plenty of dim lighting and candle lit aura helps set the mood. It’s actually quite a nice place if on a date or with friends out for a drink.

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Photo credit – Yelp

As for food there is a small but eclectic menu. During my brunch meals here I have had the bacon, egg, and oyster sandwich which comes on a brioche bun and it was terrific! Also, I have eaten the fried chicken and waffles of which I have had better around the city but was pretty decent overall. As for gastropub fare it really does the trick. Prices are fair for both drink and food. Pretty much in-line with this part of town but you will drop some coin here so be aware.

The Penrose is one of those spots that you have to pick and choose what time to arrive and what kind of crowd you want to hang with. It’s a great looking bar that can feel cozy and inviting, or a loud overbearing scene depending when you get there and what time it is. Choose wisely.




The Penrose –

The Penrose on Urbanspoon

28 thoughts on “The Penrose – a bit of downtown cocktail vibe on the UES.”

  1. Meh, Penrose. I’ve been there, done that and it’s not my thing. Maybe I need a trust fund. Maybe just a popped collar… Nah. Probably I need to be many, many decades younger.

    1. Hey Barb!

      LOL! At times I also feel that way in certain bars, but this place is pretty nice overall for a good cocktail. Kill me if I ever am seen wearing a popped collar!

  2. You said trust fund and popped collar and I got scared. Hm, maybe it’s a certain time of day place — the pictures of the bar when empty looks great! The winding bar makes for an interesting view and crafted cocktails are a favorite of mine.

    Tread lightly, Phil! No one likes the overcrowded feeling. Pretty cool place.

    1. Hey Alex!

      It’s a great spot for a bite and good drink, but not when surrounded by popped collar trust fund kids! I just go there during off hours and it’s all good.

  3. Come on, Phil! You didn’t want to go in with your collar popped, spiked up hair, sunglasses at night and a fake tan?

    The food sounds good though. Always nice to find a brunch place.

    1. Hey PJ!

      You just described my worst nightmare! That would make a good Halloween costume though. The Douchebag look!

      It is a really nice bar though!

  4. Bacon, egg and oyster – hmmmm – I’m not sure about that one. Maybe. But I do like nicely crafted beer so that would be the draw for me. I’m not a fan of loud or crowded (unless it’s Disney World, then I will make an exception).

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  5. Hi Phil: So sorry we’ve been ghosts as of late. Mathair & I have been locked away in our writing room these past two months working on Book #2 in our P-7 series. But we’re almost done & will get back to blogging which is good, cuz we miss our blogging buds, like you!!
    Now, The Penrose….hmm. I’d have to say, doesn’t sound like my cup-a-tea! I’m more of an Irish Pub kinda girl and do not like heirs of any kind. I do however like your suggestion & find it brilliant and spot on. A lot of people will try a bar & if they don’t like it, won’t give it another chance. As you pointed out, hitting a pub during the right time might change your point of view and time there. Me and my girls will often go to Highlands, when we go out to: The Ugly Dog or The Highlander. Highlands is a mountain (high elevation) twenty minutes from my town and is inhabited by the elite. During the day….not so good! Friday nights, again, I can take it or leave it. Saturday night a much different atmosphere & far better crowd. I think that when choosing a place to visit, one must commit to seeing it a few times before writing it off!! Great post Phil & great advice! 😉 BTW~ I never would’ve thought of Bacon, Egg & Oyster as a combination; but seriously….sounds phenomenal. Besides, a slab of gristle on a brioche bun would taste freaking great!! I am curious though, what kind of condiment or sauce did they put with that? Or did it even need one? lol Gonna give that one a try. 😉

    1. Hey Inion/Mathair!

      Good luck with the new book! I am sure it will do well.

      I’m also a dive bar and pub kind of person, but I also enjoy a good cocktail bar or speakeasy. When there is good food involved I am a happy camper!

  6. Bacon, egg, and oyster sandwich you say? Leave out the bacon and egg. In fact, leave out the sandwich too and I’ll just take the oysters. More up my street, and I wouldn’t mind at all!

  7. You gave a great visual all the way around. The clientele was a great way to add to the description. I’ve double passed twenty-something a while ago. 🙂

    1. Hey Cindy!

      Glad you enjoyed my colorful opinion of this spot. It’s the kind of place that if you’re above the 20-30 something crowd hit it in the afternoon.

  8. I choose brunch, I’ll take the egg and oyster sandwich please, a specialty craft cocktail of the day all while glancing about at that gorgeous shiny wood ceiling that makes the establishment look airy and trendy. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hey Courtney!

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting. It’s worth a visit if in the area on a weekend afternoon. Many new bars and hot spots are also on the area now.

  9. In the UK we would probably describe this establishment as a place where the posers hang out, the crowd who were born more awake than the rest of us.

Feel free to comment! We all have opinions!