Crash Trash and Weekend Bash! Riverside, Friday

October 23, 2009 84 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The Crash Trash And Weekend Bash! staff is growing by leaps and bounds. This installment takes the lovely club ingenue, Jennifer Browning, Old School Reviewer Christopher Byron Phillips and musical waif, Jordan Rutter and places them squarely in the midst of the Riverside Nightlife scene. Stephen Dare moderates as they discover local cabaret star, Karrissa Wade and chat up Sunbear Jared Bowser. Come with us as we explore all of the various nooks and crannies of Riverside, Avondale and Five Points, and discover that the neighborhood clusters of walkable neighborhoods and communities of interest offer some of the best nightlife opportunities and experiences in the city.

MetroJacksonville rates and reviews nightclubs based on professional and subjective categories that will be figured using a mathematical formula.  

The Club Rating Formula:  

There are six categories that our obstreperous reviewers rate:

S = Service
     This is pretty self explanatory:  Is it sufficiently staffed with trained well disposed people?  Is service prompt and professional?  Are the employees competent and attentive?
D = Drinks

    This is a pretty subjective category.  In liquor bars, it's a measure of the quality of liquors available, as well as whether the bartenders actually know what they are doing.  We give extra points for showmanship during mixing, as well as how well constructed the drink is.  Beer and Wine Bars get an automatic rating of 3, but we give extra points for great selections.
CZ  = Crowd Size
      This has everything to do with people per square feet, not total number of people.  If a small club is crowded with 50 people in it, they will get a 5.   If a huge club looks deserted with 300 people in it, they will get a 1.  Clubbing is about socializing.  If people are so spread out that you cant mix, then its sort of self defeating isn't it?
CF  = Crowd Friendliness
     Is the crowd itself friendly?  Can a person meet and/or get introduced to others reasonably easily?  Is it cliquish and not open to outsiders?  Is it clear that a bar fight is possible from the minute one walks into the room? Should one mind one's P's and Q's?
FMS= Friendliness To Metro Jacksonville Staff

     Lets face it, if their staff isn't going to be friendly to an honest to god reviewer, who are they going to be friendly to?
B    = Bonus Points

    Totally random.  Anything that sticks out of the ordinary, whether positive or negative.

In the first five categories, we give a rating between Zero and Five.  Zero being god awful.  A rating of Five is excellent.
The sixth category is for Bonus Points, however and can earn a rating of -5 through +5, depending on the reason and importance of the bonus cause.

The entire amount is then divided by 5
, which gives you our rating.  

Now. it is important to notice that we do not rate based on the kind of music or the clientele that the clubs cater to.  Nor do we give a fig's leaf about the size or age of the club, and are not impressed by cheap marketing ploys.  We don't rate a club on the basis of the age of the clientele or whether it serves full liquor or beer and wine.  The ratings reflect what any person walking into the club for the first time would notice.

And yes.  We include the bathrooms.  People should not have to consult with the EPA before using them.

A note from the clubs editor, Stephen Dare.

One finds oneself pondering the imponderable question about nightclub reviews.   How can one find the perfect evening?  Fun, genuine fun has a lot to do with luck, but just as much on selection.  Selection of location and time, selection of friends, and of course selection of goals whether they be achievable or no.  Lets face it, not everyone is going to be able to attain the goal of romancing royalty, waking up to an incredibly lucrative buy off plan and then having to choose between cash and happiness before the day is out just simply by setting that as a goal before going out to ShantyTown.

It goes without saying that not all environments are created equal---some are just bound to be a lot more conducive to enjoyment than others.  This is pretty easily demonstrable.  Even a fool knows that a nightclub surrounded by attractive young people copiously consuming substances that cloud decision making skills is going to be a lot more helpful to the pursuit of good clean fun than a prison work yard surrounded by banking executives and recently unparoled, violently obese serial sex offenders (as if the universe were at all capable of producing such a perfect arena of justice)

The same holds true, and just as radically, within the narrower location subcategory of nightclubs
.  For that aforementioned luck to happen, one of the prerequisites is a great location, a place where people connect

This pub crawl is set in Riverside, and it was extremely interesting to say the least.

More than any other side of town besides Springfield, Riverside is known for its quirky diversity.   There are literally all types in the neighborhood: Uptight Republican housewives cheerfully sport McCain Palin stickers on their SUVs as they drop off their aggressively pierced tuba playing offspring after meeting them at the bank for lunch.  Gay gogo boys mingle with the dreadlocked culturati in the derivative alehouses while gothic chicks try not to ignore future sorority sisters at the Bagel shops.   Baptist ministers looking hale and well met sit next to seriously prim nurses from St. Vincents at the coffeehouses as they listen in on the lesbian chit chat going on behind the counters and play the perennial guessing game of whose gender is authentic with all the passersby.

The perfectly coiffed children of people who have already paid in advance to make sure that said urchins will never have to mingle with anyone resembling a commoner throughout their educational experience can be seen walking through the parks, passing the 'sup' kids whose asses are hanging decoratively out of their low slung pants.

It was into this neighborhood, this township of bony 20 year olds in hardwood floor apartments and lusciously contoured girls in the post girdle generation that our Club Review Team was dispatched.

The team assembled for the job included the lovely Miss Browning, she of Cute Boys with a Hotness fame.  Christopher Byron Phillips, giving every appearance of being a semi conservative 30 something male on the prowl, was a perfect complement. He gave it a big brother/little sister kind of a feel.  Christopher's long long experience with Club Reviewing back in the late 80s, early 90's also gave the whole endeavor a sybaritic element that the editor has felt lacking for a while.  Christopher actually was once upon a time a club reviewer for Dare Tabloid, during which he left quite a swath across the discofantastic dregs of the pre-grungers of the era.

Finishing off the team was the gifted young Jordan Rutter, a UNF student who nonetheless manages to look perhaps five days short of 11 and a half years old.  He has a dry and devastating wit about things, and the editor hoped that the jailbaityness of his exterior appearances would at least keep the bastards on their toes.

First stop Avondale.  

When the Club Crawl team arrived in the gracious little district on St. John's Avenue, we were struck with the timeless southern charm and beauty of the area.  This is a place that knows how to do it right.  Everything is within two blocks of brick buildings and graceful pastel facades, and the unmistakable air coming off of the river mingles with the smell of well tended lawns and Spanish Moss.  The streets are buzzing with little nodes of activity---we are destined for two of them---and the tasteful cars advertise that this is a well heeled and monied community.

Avondale is not a frilly and sumptuous little bit of southern whimsy in the way that San Marco is.  It is not a funky indie district with distinctly Floridian influences the way that Five Points is, and it doesn't evoke old Florida or big city the way that Springfield does.  There is something immensely more private and secure feeling, something that evokes more Richmond than Charleston.  Perhaps its all the oak trees everywhere.  Or the brick.

It gives the visitor a sense of infinite safety.  It would be almost impossible to imagine anything terrible happening in Avondale--other than an infrequent hair coloring tragedy.  It is truly a little oasis of a neighborhood.   It exudes taste, and comfort.

It was into this refined backdrop that we stepped out of our cars.

The Casbah  9:10pm to 9:45 pm

S(4) + CZ(4) + CF(4) + FMS(5) + D(3) + Bonus(0)

The Casbah is the ultimate secret retreat/startpoint/end up of the children of Jacksonville's wealthest families.
  They are a well groomed and flirtatiously hip lot and they descend on the tables like little flocks of graceful birds chattering away, pecking at IPhones and ordering copious amounts of flavored hookahs.  On arrival at the front gates of the courtyard, we were greeted by Miriam, the hostess and traditional Middle-Eastern music.  There was still a little bit of hubbub from the performance of the Cabaret style Belly Dancers which we missed, unfortunately.  We heard quite a bit about them from the laid back chatty patrons, it was mentioned (frequently) that they like the Belly Dancers!

It had been pretermined by the gods that the evening was going to be saturated in Raspberry.  No one is quite sure how this happened--perhaps the team seemed to be metaphysically screaming:  We need something Tart! but the rasbberry trend began immediately at Casbah.  Jennifer Browning ordered a Lambic, which is a beer that tastes like a grown up Raspberry Soda Pop.  It's a great beer, one for sipping on rather than gulping, but it was a bit pricey at 7 dollars expecially for such a small glass--ah the practical downsides of drinking with the wealthy..  

Christopher Byron Phillips tried the Raspberry Wheat beer with the strange disclaimer, "It's not very good, it doesn't come highly recommended."  He mumbled something about it being sweet with a bad aftertaste.  

The team perused the specialty drink menu, but decided to leave some of their suggested drink combinations to more adventurous drinkers.  

One particularly revolting sounding concoction is called the "Chocolate Covered Raspberry" which is Guiness and Lambic together.... interesting.  Personally, it sounds like a bit of a stretch.  I would suggest Raspberry Flavored Retching....

As it turned out Jordan Rutter is an old hand at the Casbah and started discussing the hookah's, apparently they're out of tobacco flavors quite frequently.  Specifically, (and with tart disatisfaction) he mentioned that the Blue Mist and Plum flavors were out the most.

The bathroom line provided a perfect illustration of the vibe:  The lines are persistent and sometimes lingering, after a wait, one guy come out of the women's room apologetically assuring all the waiting women, "I put the seat back down, I swear."

Jordan and Miss Browning ended up at the bar talking to the bartender, Courtney, and some of the regulars of the Casbah.  

We gave props to the owner, Sayid, for pointing us in the right direction, and making introductions.  

Brad Sweeting and Krystal Stoyanovich were happy to answer our questions.  Brad said  "I like the easygoing atmosphere and the good prices keep me coming back."  Krystal chimed in, "The atmosphere is relaxing and chill."

At an adjoining table Andre Perez exclaimed, "This place is freaking awesome!  I love this place!"  Curiously, his tablemate Lane informed us that the "Food is better than expected."

The place was just buzzing and there was a wait at the gate.  Awesome wonderful place despite the common 'out of tobacco' complaints

Krystal Stoyanovich and Brad Sweeting at The Casbah

Andre Perez at The Casbah

Courtney, the lovely Casbah Bartender

West Inn Cantina  9: 47pm to 10:05 pm

S(4) + CZ(5) + CF(4) + FMS(5) + D(5) + Bonus(-1)

West Inn Cantina (half of the locals still call it Monty's) is practically next door, and our motley little crew was greeted by Linda Spofford, one of the owners, a dynamite looking woman who is the epitome of bar etiquette and salty fun.  She took us directly to Joanne Robinson, one of the bartenders, so we could get our drinks.  

Joanne made us her delicacy, A Redheaded Slut, ---Jagermeister, Peach Schnapps, and Cranberry juice.  Highly fruity but so good, even the guys drink them.  Pretty good start.

I felt like a ping-pong ball in a tournament because I was bouncing off of people on my way to the bathrooms.  The bar was crushingly packed!  Such an eccentric mixture of people hanging around.  

Christopher started mingling with the crowd and ran into, quite literally, Daniel Van Gundy, a regular.  They struck up a conversation during which he strongly recommended the menu. "Pork Taquitos are excellent!"  

The menu is actually decent, but we were there for drinking and fun.  Thankfully because the place is a food establishment, there is no smoking inside, however, there is a nice patio outside where the smokers can lurk, and which is always packed.

Jordan Rutter, perhaps a little lost in all of the 30-40 year olds chimed in helpfully about the music. "It's total bar rock!"

Crime solved, Jordan.  El Camino one of Walter Mingledorf's bands was performing for the drunken approval of the crowd.  

A pretty fun time, but it was time to head on:

Next stop Five Points.

El Camino, performing at West Inn Cantina

Joanne Robinson, Owner Linda Spofford and Lisa Hunt

Daniel Van Gundy

Five Points was busy.  Packed.  There were a couple of different things happening that night and the evening was full of a weird effusive energy.

Standing in the middle of Five Points, there were clusters and crowds of people in three different directions and there was a feeling of real urban life:  The bars were hopping and there were lots of little groups strolling in between the establishments of the extremely walkable district.  We were scheduled for stops at four of the establishments and the first was the Five Points Coffee and Spice Company.

5 Points Coffee & Spice 10:20 pm to 10: 36 pm

S(3) + CZ(1) + CF(3) + FMS(5) + D(4) + Bonus(2)

The team was surprised that the owner, Alvah, a longtime riverside character, was taking a richly deserved day off.  We hadnt eaten at Casbah so I ordered the excellent Tomato and Basil Salad.  It's one of the best places in town to buy coffee, and they have a specialty coffee that is simply awesome.  Try the vietnamese iced coffee.  This rich drink is made with condensed cream and served over ice.  Its smooth and sweet and will totally wire you for the evening..  Starshmucks can't compete with it.!

One of the regulars---who demanded that we keep his name anonymous to protect him and his family from the who-knows-what's out there--said, "This is a home away from home.  The food is like a home cooked meal.  This is the one place [Restaurant/Cafe] I can go to in Jacksonville, sit down and have a home cooked meal and actually feel like I'm at home."  

Outside "The Magic Man" (Andy Johnson) kept us entertained while Jennifer munched her salad.  He did this amazing trick where he took two one dollar bills and turned them into one two dollar bill.  We swear!  We saw it with our own eyes.... It's magic!  He kept our team quite amused for a few minutes before we walked next door to SteamWorks.

Steamworks  10:37pm to 10:53 pm

S(4) + CZ(2) + CF(4) + FMS(5) + D(3) + Bonus(3)

is a funky little place that's great for hanging out with friends, shooting pool, and grabbing beers.  Since it's October, they were screening a Halloween movie which was pretty cool.  We really didn't watch too much of it, but there were zombies and such on the screen.

There is a heavy fog of smoke that covers the place, and there are hipsters deluxe crowding the booths and pool tables.  In the back there is a dancefloor, Im told that it resembles the set up at the legendary old MotoLounge in downtown.

I found the regulars, Daniela Tirado and Errett Goff, hanging out by the bar drinking beers that Landon Cole (DJ L'NDN) and Devon Wolf had served them.  I asked Daniela what she liked the most about Steamworks, and she said it was within walking distance to her apartment.  Errett gave his reasons for liking Steamworks, "I've been coming here over a year now.  Anything goes , there are beautiful ladies, and a ridiculously awesome beer selection."  

Errett described Landon, the bartender, "Landon's like the guy from Cheers, in a tank top and jeans."

Landon served me a Kelly's Irish Cider.  Not terribly strong and kind of sweet. There wasn't any music playing while I was there, so everyone started joking that Landon should DJ.  That would be amazing to watch... a DJ serving beers between sets.

On our way to Wall Street.

Bartenders Devon Wolf and Landon Cole (DJ L'NDN)  

Errett Goff and Daniela Tirado

On the way we ran into a Channel 4 Action News van parked at the corner of Post and Lomax Streets.  The reporter told Christopher, "We're covering the story about the girl who was raped in Riverside."  Which was definitely a buzzkill as we continued on to Wall Street.

Wall Street  10:57 pm to 11: 35pm

S(4) + CZ(2) + CF(3) + FMS(5) + D(3) + Bonus(0)

We walked into Wall Street and immediately got sprinkled with deja vu. The manager, Debbie, pointed us towards Penny, with the exclamation "She's a damn good bartender."  Penny handed us Poisonberrys --- Crown, Chambord, a splash of sweet and sour, a splash of seven and cranberry juice.

Miss Browning walked off for mere moments and upon returning could find neither Christopher or her drink.

Jordan Rutter notes:  I immediately noticed the atmosphere of the place was different from the other places I've been. It was early in the night and there were only a handful of people in the building, but the small crowd had some variety to it.

One of the patrons confided that it was "where old hipsters go to die" right before "Summer Lovin'" started playing on the jukebox to universal approval. The place was a lot more laid-back than the other bars, although I'm not sure if that's in spite of, or because of, the sense of resignation.

A close look at the photo appears to have captured Nick Osgood

Birdie's  11:00 pm to 11: 35 pm

S(5) + CZ(4) + CF(4) + FMS(5) + D(5) + Bonus(1)

Birdie's was jumping with people and local celebrities when we arrived.  The team immediately recognized Jared Chase Bowser from the Sunbears!  Miss Browning walked over to his table, bold as brass and joined Birdie employee and brilliant musician Christina Wagner who was also at the table.

Jared doesnt just frequent Birdies: "I come here everyday.  There's a very friendly atmosphere and the drinks are moderately priced and I always have a good time.  I like it better than Starlight, I didn't come here for over a year until (the new management took over)."  

While I was taking to Jared, Christina coyly asked him if he was going to be on the cover of another magazine.  I replied, "He's being harassed by the media" and smiled.

I found Edward Marcellus, another regular, and he gave his two cents about Birdies.  "Five Points is the social center-point.  I like Birdie's because of the people, the owners and staff... all of it.  It's changed a lot (for the better) with the new owners."

Of course some things never change:  While we were chatting about the improvements, a bruiser of a bouncer drug a drunk guy and a random girl out of the bar.  

It was accompanied by the usual mayhem--the guy running on about how unfair it all was etc..  

Further investigation revealed he was harassing some poor girl and was 'asked' to leave.  The obvious upside about a woman owned bar!  What a jerk... seriously.  

I must say, Birdie's did a great job of getting the jerk out of the bar without a fist-fight.

I found Chris by the bar with my empty cocktail from Wall Street and just as I was about to give my opinion of that, he handed me an Undertow--Erin, the bartender's, specialty.   Apparently she invented the Undertow herself.  

It's made with Stoli Raspberry, Blue Curacao, Sour Mix, and Chambord.  The Raspberryness continued.

It tasted compellingly like a Blue SnoCone.  Hard to complain about that.

With that, we left the beautiful people of Five Points and headed on to the next location.

The Patio is much cleaner and brighter at Birdies.

Jared Chase Bowser, of Sunbears, a regular at Birdies

Edward Marcellus, Birdies in Five Points

In Cahoots  11:49 pm to 12:23 pm

S(3) + CZ(5) + CF(4) + FMS(3) + D(5) + Bonus(3)

Finding Incahoots was interesting.... What is it about gay bars in this town that they seem to find the absolute worst sections of town to locate in?

InCahoots is on Edison Avenue
in the shadow of Blue Cross Blue Shield, which at night is basically at the corner of Crackrock and Attempted Auto Theft.

We made it to Cracktown and thought we were going in the wrong direction.  

(editor's note.  The neighborhood, we assure you is actually pretty lovely.  Everbank Plaza and Blue Cross Blue Shield.  However to suburban children weaned on too many mad max movies, anything dark and industrial looking is bound to be frightening.  Like filling out tax returns)

Alas, a parking guy pointed us down the dark, creepy street.  Seeing as how it was cold and scary, we all linked arms and walked toward the venue, huddled together for safety and warmth.  Outside there was a man setting up his food stand which served wings, gizzard fries, chicken fries, pork chop fries... yes everything was fried, except for the cake.  Jordan and I are vegetarian, so we demurred.  For some reason, Christopher, a natural carnivore, claimed the same.

There are three bars inside InCahoots
, a small bar to the left, a medium bar to the right, and if you walk straight on in, you'll find the largest bar ----and some of the burly exhibition dancers.  

We immediately sought out the owner, Stacy, and the Cabaret goddess, Karrissa Wade, one of the most famous cabaret stars in the state.
She took us to the small bar and we were served a Madras by Mikey, the bartender. While hardly an imaginative choice, Mr. Mikey made up for it by serving us---by far----the strongest drink We've ever been served on a club crawl yet.   Maybe the strongest drink thats ever been served. Ever.
Technically, it's made with Vodka, orange juice and cranberry juice.  As far as I can testify its made with pure rocket fuel.  

While alcoholic steam was venting though our ears, Mikey shared his thoughts about the Madras, "It's really good and easy to drink because it gets you drunk fast!"  

I could hardly agree more.  One cannot imagine surviving more than five of them.  In a lifetime.

Karissa Wade was brooking no nonsense on the subject of drinking for our 18 year old cohort.  Archly and with a little too much publicity as far as any of us were concerned, she grandly offered Jordan a can of coke with a straw, practically announcing:, "Here's a coke for the little boy ....we're out of milk!"  The bitch might as well have used a megaphone, muttered someone, I think it was Jordan.

There are go go boys dancing on the bar.  We were seated nearTristan Fiore, a really cute guy sporting costume football underwear.  

Jordan whispers to me, "He's totally stuffing!  At least he's being funny about it; wearing football underwear and all."  

We giggled about that for a few minutes before meeting Temptation, "The One, The Only, The Beautiful", and her friend Ryan.  I wanted Ryan's impression of InCahoots since it was his first time out.  "I'll be back, it's different, yet cool.  I came with Temptation to watch her perform."

The bar was packed and festive, lots of crazy dance action, and the deejays were playing homefried gay disco house.  The crowd was restless, drunk, schmoozy and ready for adventure.   I ditched the guys in the dance bar to take the bathroom shots.

So, here I was, standing in the stalls of the bathroom when a woman asked with real fear and outrage in her voice, "What are you doing?!"  

I wheeled to her and blurted out a hundred miles an hour, "I don't have a bathroom fetish, I swear!  It's part of my job."  

There was a tense, unbearable moment.  She stared.  I stared back.  

How do you explain to perfect strangers that you have a job photographing bathrooms?  In context it seems indefensible.    Suddenly she laughed.   Nervously I laughed back.  She brayed.  i brayed just as loud.  Then she disappeared.

Still laughing about the photos, and I walked back out towards the dance floor.  I decided, or rather the Madras decided for me to stand on a chair to get a good crowd shot, I stood atop it wobbling and looked down to see a panicked bouncer.  Apparently one doesnt stand on bar stools after one has been visibly drinking.  

We had a great time dancing and hanging out with the crowd, but soon it was time for Chris, Jordan and I to leave.  

Apparently while we were enjoying the place, a chain of events set in motion by the photos of the bathroom had rapidly developed.  We, of course, were oblivious.

As we reached the edge of the parking lot we heard "Stop!  Wait! Where are you going?!" We turned to see two ladies rushing to catch up to us.  this was one of the five last things anyone would want to see in the neighborhood.  The first being one's parents, and the second being a deadly creature or a maniac with a machine gun.  

This was only three steps behind that.

Chris took the lead.  And by lead, I mean that I rapidly moved behind him and Jordan considered peeing on himself.
 They got closer.  I relaxed.  It was Stacy the bar owner.

Maybe I had forgotten something in the bar.

Instead it got aggressive and forbidding all at once: "People are telling me that you're taking photos of the bathrooms, Why are you taking photos of the bathrooms?!"  

It was clear that this activity was the source of some strange suspicion.  Had we transgressed some unwritten code?  

Chris, on cue, hilariously started explaining why it's important to take photos of bathrooms in club reviews.  He spoke at great length---from the way he explained it, our very way of life depended on the clean bathrooms of night clubs.

Stacy was far from convinced.  She demanded my camera.

Now it was my turn to be unconvinced.  There was a moment.

Show her the caaaameeraaa, said Christopher.

Reluctantly I handed it to her.  She flipped through the photos of the bathrooms and then suddenly everything was a ok.    She sweetened and laughed and invited us back

We were left to leave of our own volition.

Which we did.

Temptation and Ryan

Off into the night back to the Park and King district, where a little trio of clubs has transformed the little area into another pleasurably walkable nightspot.  

This is still an edge area at night, but there are enough people on the street that it seems perfectly safe to walk back and forth in a group. The older buildings are still there in little pockets of junkiness, but the new places are kind of blooming and the effect is one of a place in transition.

The area is home to Walkers, Park Place, and Kickbacks.  We were scheduled for all three.

Walkers  12: 25 am to 12: 48 am

S(4) + CZ(2) + CF(4) + FMS(5) + D(5) + Bonus(2)

When I arrived, Shawn Lightfoot was strumming on the guitar.  He was singing a song about Walker's and Kickbacks... it was pretty cool.  Local chanteuse Jessica Pounds was in the audience, hanging out with friends and listening to the music.

This venue is really upscale with nice couches, exposed brick, and awesome lighting.
 The atmosphere is really comforting and it's a place that you could spend all night getting to know people and listening to wonderful music.

I headed for the bar, to get a drink from Scott, the owner.  He made me a champagne cocktail with watermelon puree in it.  It was so amazing.  It's almost like drinking a watermelon jolly rancher.  The cocktails are 7 dollars each.  

The wine prices are from $3 to $ 10 each glass and there are over 100 champagnes and wines.  They also carry Sake infused drinks with apple, cinnamon and grape.  There's only one word for it... WOW!

I spoke with Andrew, one of the regulars.  He mentioned to me that I should try the Bing Cho, and that the wines are good and the prices are good, too.  Before leaving, Andrew told me that he'd be coming back to Walkers again.  We concurred.

There isn't any smoking allowed inside of Walkers, but there are plenty of chairs and tables outside to hang out, chat with friends, and listen to live music.  Inside top 40's
favorites were playing which was a contrast to the music outside.  

Park Place  12:50 am to 1:10 am

S(5) + CZ(2) + CF(4) + FMS(5) + D(3) + Bonus(0)

This is a cozy little place, tucked away in Riverside.  The atmosphere is quite comfortable and I got along with everyone.  The crowd is really friendly and they don't mind talking up a storm.

Shawn Simmons, the manager, greeted the Metrojacksonville Club Crawl team at the bar.  He quickly introduced us to John Henrique, his favorite bartender.   John made us his special drink, A Parrot on Crack ---Parrot Bay, Peach Schnapps, Red Bull and Raspberry Liquor.  I took the time to ask John about working at Park Place:  "I love working here because it's a neighborhood bar."  

Shawn and John went on to describe the drink specials:  2-4-1 beer $3.50 (Amstel, Corona, Heineken) Wells and Call drinks, Sunday is all day Happy Hour....   There was a second bar that was filled with women, but we hung out with Shawn and John.

I introduced myself to Aiden Klein, a regular at Park Place, and a MetroJacksonville Reader who informed me, "I've been coming here for 10 years.  There is a good atmosphere, good music, and the bartenders cater to your every need.  I order so much here that I get free drinks occasionally!  They really love their regulars here.  The bartenders are steady, they don't have any of turn-over.  When I walk in, they fix my drink for me without asking me what I want. I had the choice to move back to Jacksonville, Florida or to Seattle, Washington and I chose Jacksonville after reading the MetroJacksonville Reviews.  I realized that Jacksonville is up-and-coming.  Jacksonville is starting to keep up with Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami.  I am very impressed with Jacksonville, Florida!"

Chris weighs in, "There is a small, neglected dance floor.  No one is dancing!"

He also pointed out the two pool tables that sat there without being used, how sad they must have been, indeed.  

Why would a bar be full of people who arent playing pool or dancing?

Um...I think it's because everyone was busy chatting with one another, but that's just me.

Despite the fact that Kickbacks is literally across the street, Christopher informed us that we would be going instead to Eclipse in Avondale next.

We demurred to his more experienced judgement.

Manager Shawn Simmons and Bartender John Henrique

Park Place regular, Aiden Klein

Eclipse 1:15 am to 1:32 am

S(4) + CZ(3) + CF(3) + FMS(4) + D(3) + Bonus()

The Eclipse is a small nightclub with a big great personality to it.  The owner, Jeff, was also disk jockeying that night as DJ Free.  He was spinning 80's music, but didn't mind stopping to talk to our team and point us in the right direction in order to get drinks and mingle.  The staff were all so friendly and helpful,--a nice contrast to being scared to death at Incahoots, but... well... that was so long ago.... wasn't it?

We ordered a Pineapple Upside Down Cake Shot prepared by Terry, the bartender.  It tasted just like the cake... it was waaaaaaay to sweet and it's really a girlie drink.  They had $2 Yuengling, $3 Amstel lights, and $4 Captain Morgan as drink specials.  Which suited our tastes just fine.

Madilyn Peterson and her friend, Justin were also newbies to Eclipse that night.  We chatted them up and found out that they would most definitely come back, they like the different atmosphere and the eclectic music, come on, admit it....80's is cool!

Random guy comes over to me and starts taking my picture.  This was the beginning of something special.  The place was pretty full of fun and cute boys, so once again I abandoned the guys to their own devices

There is an outdoor patio that stays just about as full as the indoor dancefloor.

All of the hook up action is around the bar, where people make eye contact and introductions.

This place has a longtime reputation for hip fun people, and this night was no exception.

But soon the hour grew late and it was time to head out to gay megaclub:  The Metro.

Sunter Charles and Jennifer Browning

Eclipse Regular, Madilyn Peterson

Metro  1: 45 am to 2:10 am

S(5) + CZ(3) + CF(3) + FMS(5) + D(3) + Bonus(3)

The Metro is the largest nightclub in the area. It is also the largest gay and lesbian Night club in the city and features Drag Shows, strippers, cabaret performances, a piano bar and several specialty bars as well as an adult shop inside the facility.

Finally the normally quiet and morose, Jordan perked right up.

Inside, after passing through the unecessarily grueling door ceremony, We met Jerry Burton, the manager on duty, who introduced us to the bar staff and showed us around a bit.  I ordered a Trainwreck, the bartender's (James) special drink which has Southern Comfort, Peach Schnapps, Hypnotique, and  Cranberry juice in it.  It was a really sweet, sparkly drink... You'd have to be a college girl to enjoy it, which I am, but then again it was also pretty appropriate.  

There was an amateur strip contest going on in the main room and the crowd was going wild! It was hard to think over the hoots, hollers, screams and yells.  It was a quite interesting experience.

I met Chris Stephens and Emily (Gosh, I hope that is your name, dear... your signature looks like a 3 year old scribbling on a coloring sheet!) at the bar I asked Chris about the Metro.  "It's my first time here and I wouldn't come back.  I like the Pearl much better."  

Then he starts rambling on... and on.... and on....about the Pearl.  Note to self: Find Chris Stephens the next time I'm doing a PEARL Review, I'm sure I can get some good information from him.  Unfortunately, the Pearl wasn't on my list tonight, dude.  Chris had to keep Emily standing upright as she was by far the most drunk person we discovered on this outing.  

It was quite amusing... she'd wander off... he'd retrieve her....

Christopher mentions that he doesn't think that the large room we're in is the only part of the bar. Jordan and I followed him to the Rainbow Room which is this awesome little piano bar tucked away inside the Metro.  The piano music was light and well played, a group of regulars sits around and sings along.  Altogether a wonderful experience.  We sat down with our drinks and relaxed for a few minutes.  

I found out that in all, there are 7 separate bars inside the Metro, it's a pity that we only got to see two of them!  I had no idea that this club was so enormous.  

Unfortunately Last Call came, and brought our discotheque experience to an end.

Collecting up Jordan we bundled into the car and headed back to the Post and King district.

Kickbacks 2:19 am to 4:20 am

S(3) + CZ(4) + CF(5) + FMS(5) + D(4) + Bonus(2)

We dragged ourselves into Kickbacks, after going to 12 other places, with gigantic appetites to match.  We sat down and spoke with our waitress, Lea, to grab our drinks... ----water at that point since it was after 2am.  I ended up ordering a coffee as well, considering I was having a hard time keeping my eyes open.

We met the owner, Steve Flores, and he is a wealth of information.  If you get him talking about Gastropubs he'll chatter on, ad infinitum, for quite some time.  A Gastropub is a bar that serves food that is better than you'd think it would be and it originated in England.  I'd say that describes Kickbacks' food selection quite well.  You can get anything you want from Ramen noodles to appetizers to Beer Dinners!  I will definitely be in attendance to the next beer dinner.  Steve plans some of them for 3 or more years.  All of the food and beer go together and there is vegetarian fare as well!  Steve, if we fell asleep during your talk it wasn't because it was boring, we were exhausted!

Kickbacks also has the most extensive food menu that I've ever seen.  There are 6 pages, one sided, of items that can be ordered well into the morning.  The MetroJacksonville team tried the appetizer platter with fried green beans, mozzarella sticks, Jalapeno poppers with Cheddar Cheese, and the Onion Blooms as well as the Mediterranian Pizza.  The food filled us up quite well.

Steve answered the age old question, "How to you pronounce Hogaarden?"  With a simple show of a 6 pack of Hogaarden beers.  He took out the middle one, lifted up the box to reveal, WHO  GAR   DEN, written on the box.  The waitresses came by and all started whooing like owls.  I'll never ask for a hoe garden or a hoe in the garden again... it's forever... whooooooooooooooo garden.

Kickbacks clearly has the largest beer selection in Jacksonville with over 420 bottled beers and 60 on tap, soon to be 80.  The prices range from $1.75 to $100.  Steve said that he has a few patrons who have actually tried getting all the beers on the menu as well as all the food, but it's hard for them to accomplish that task when the beer selections are constantly changing!

And so finally, exhausted but ecstatic, we finally drew the evening to a close.  4:20 in the morning, we had seen everything, done everything tasteful, chatted up half of the universe, and danced, sweated, drank, and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Riverside's diversity of clubs and the enormous range of experiences makes it a pretty great area of town to do a pub crawl.

We hardly had a single experience the entire evening that was unpleasant, and more than a few that were just hilarious and thrilling.

Definitely Riverside has it going on for the nightlife scene.

--The Crash Trash and Weekend Bash Club Review Team.--