I am the ultimate non-jock.
Even though I have a pair of testicles and hair on my chest, I regard sports as an infantile substitute for warfare that has no place in modern society.
I've been to sports bars twice in my life, but not because I chose to go there. I was obligated to attend birthday parties at those venues.
I was at one yesterday afternoon and evening. Billy's Beach Cafe is in the City of Long Beach in New York's Nassau County, adjacent to the southern shore of Long Island.
Long Beach Barrier Island contains the City of Long Beach, and the villages of Atlantic Beach and Lido Beach. It seemed like the end of the fucking world -- about 80 miles and three miserable hours from my home in Connecticut.
Long Beach, NY is one of three Long Beaches I know of in the USA (others are in NJ and CA). It's separated from the southern border of Long Island by Reynolds Channel. There's a goddam two-buck toll in each direction, and the goddam bridge does not accept EZ-Pass, which can be used to pay tolls in most civilized parts of the USA (well, 16 states, anyway).
We arrived nearly an hour late and two dollars poorer for the "surprise" birthday party, but fortunately found a good free parking space on the street about 100 feet from the restaurant. The front doors were open, in a friendly, beachy gesture.
My joy was short-lived however, when I entered and was surrounded by TV screens showing people in funny uniforms running around and bumping into each other.
Even the party menu seemed designed to piss me off.
The starters were taco chips with some kind of creamy green glop, and buffalo wings. I love chicken wings either naked or with teriyaki or barbecue sauce; but I tried buffalo seasoning 20-something years ago, and despised it.
My disappointment quickly changed to ecstasy thanks to highly cooperative servers and highly skilled folks in the kitchen.
I asked for some salsa for the chips, and within two minutes there were two big bowls of perfect red dip on my table. When our chip supply was fading away, it was replenished by the observant server, without being asked. (Years ago my paternal Grampy Jay told me that a good waiter filled water glasses as soon as asked, but a great waiter filled them before being asked.)
I'm not generally a troublemaker -- especially when I'm not paying for my food -- but I decided to try to get an alternative to the dreaded and highly touted buffalo wings.
However, there was no need for me to be reticent or fearful. It turns out that Billy offers wings with EIGHT kinds of seasoning, and the barbecue sauce on my requested wings was absolutely superb.
While we were waiting for a wing refill, I timidly tasted one of buffalo wings and -- SURPRISE -- I liked it a lot. I ate three while waiting for the barbecue wing replenishment to arrive.
My main course was sliced steak with mushrooms and gravy. There were platters of sliced roasted potatoes and assorted veggies served family style. Everything was great, and because I had overdosed on wings I could not finish my entree. It was wrapped up securely and became my breakfast, today (unheated).
I had two glasses of draft Stella Artois, perfectly chilled. A drink can never be too cold for me. I actually like to drink water that's turning into slush, but too many bars and restaurants ruin good beer by serving it too warm. Billy's bar people are pros! God bless them.
Billy's on Long Beach is too far away for me to go to on a spur-of-the moment whim, and my own home is just five minutes from some great beaches. However, the food and people at Billy's are so good and the town's ambience is so nice that I just might go back for a weekend.
Oh, and Happy Birthday to niece Dawn.
And I forgot: the salad was very good, too.