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.
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.
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 – http://www.penrosebar.com/