Neighborhood: Gramercy, 99 E. 19th Street (near the corner of Park Avenue South)
The scoop: My adorable ginger boyfriend Russ and I were heading over to Murray Hill to meet my aunt and uncle to watch the 4:15 p.m. Giants game. We wanted to get into the city early to see the 1 p.m. games, so I immediately thought of Duke’s. Their Gramercy location was perfect for us because it wasn’t too far from the PATH and was on the way to Murray Hill. I’ve been here before to watch games and knew that they had a pretty good brunch menu, as well as enough manly food items to keep Russ satisfied. Their no-frills decor is perfect for a game watch. The walls are covered with bottle caps, college and pro team flags and old school signs and records. With plenty of TVs and nothing fancy about the ambiance, Duke’s is a true sports bar.
The decision to go to Duke’s was a little last minute, but I was able to plan ahead. I went on OpenTable around 11:30 a.m. that morning, and was pleasantly surprised that I did not have a hard time making a reservation. This made me feel better because I know how hard it can be to get a table at a sports bar on a game day. When we arrived at exactly 1 p.m., we were told that they had pulled the reservations from OpenTable at noon, but our name was not on the list. I showed them my email confirmation and they felt really bad about the mishap. They promised us that we would be the first people seated as soon as a table opened up, but two seats at the bar were available, so we just ended up sitting there. Even though we got lucky, I would highly recommend making reservations, especially during the football season. We didn’t mind sitting at the bar though, and the bartender who served us was very attentive. Our food was out quickly.
Bottoms up: If you order off the brunch menu, you can add $10 for unlimited mimosas, bloody Marys or screwdrivers. I decided to go with this option and ordered a screwdriver…or at least what I thought was a screwdriver. The drink was served in a plastic cup, and as I was drinking it, I was really surprised at how subtle the vodka taste was and how I didn’t taste much except for OJ. Then, I went to order another “screwdriver”, and the bartender informed me that she thought I had ordered a mimosa for the first round, so I had actually been drinking a mimosa. Mystery solved! I was then given a screwdriver. Holy cheap vodka! I’m a vodka drinker, and even this was tough for me to handle, although I think cheap vodka is hard for anyone to drink. I was seriously getting flashbacks to drinking Mr. Boston and Rubinoff, two of the cheap vodkas we used to drink my freshman year of college. I somehow managed to choke down this disgusting drink, and then went back to the mimosa for my third drink. Like the first drink, I didn’t taste much alcohol. Russ happily sipped Guinness drafts while I endured the lousy brunch drinks. We were also given free shots of espresso vodka at the end of our meal. Even though $10 is a great deal for unlimited brunch drinks, the two extremes of drinks don’t really make it worth it. You’re better off to sticking to beer, or maybe some of their other mixed drinks that aren’t part of the brunch special. Also, make sure you check your bill, because we were accidentally charged twice for the unlimited drink option.
Chew on this:
10 Piece Wings $ 10 / Your choice of buffalo, XXX, sweet ‘n sour, honey BBQ, teriyaki sauce or naked
Russ ordered wings while we watched the games, and I helped myself to one. He ordered them with honey BBQ sauce. They were served with a side of bleu cheese and celery and carrots. The honey BBQ sauce was good. It was a little sweet, yet had a slight kick to it. They were not overly saucy.There was just enough sauce on them to enjoy the flavor, yet not make a complete mess while eating them.
Duke’s Healthy Skillet $11 / Scrambled egg whites mixed with tomatoes, onions, home fries, peppers and melted Swiss
I knew I had a long day of drinking ahead of me, so I decided to go with a somewhat healthy option. As usual, I got this without tomatoes. I liked how it was actually served in the skillet. It came with a piece of white toast, which I was not expecting. I was not asked what kind of toast I wanted, but considering this was the “healthy” menu item, I was surprised to see that it did not come with whole wheat or whole grain toast. There were more way home fries than peppers or onions baked into this dish, so it wasn’t too flavorful. There was also a ton of melty Swiss cheese on top. It certainly was not the best variation of eggs whites and veggies that I’ve ever had, but I didn’t have high expectations given that I was in a sports bar. Also, it said on the menu that all brunch items were served with a basket of warm muffins and strawberry butter, but we did not receive this.
The final bite: I wouldn’t go out of my way to brunch at Duke’s. However, if you need a spot to brunch and watch a game, Duke’s is suitable option.
Reviewed by: Jen