1114 Eighth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 832-7961

Clearly, I'm a guy who loves to eat out. But one thing that I've noticed it that there aren't too many places that don't have some gimmick to get you in the door that has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not the food's any good. Maybe it's a one way mirror in the bathroom that allows you to watch people have dinner while you pee. Maybe its fifty stories up with a great view and spins. Maybe the waitresses dress really sexy. Maybe it's a hidden place that no one's supposed to know about but that everyone does. Maybe it's owned by a celebrity. Maybe that celebrity has a Food Network show with an annoying tacky catchphrase. Maybe it's just so expensive you'd have to be bat-shit-crazy to eat there.

Johnny Mack's is pretty much devoid of pretension and gimmick. It's a bar, a restaurant, a local place with wood and brick walls, clean bathrooms, nice (and pretty) waitresses, and it won't suck your wallet dry. It's the kind of place you can go and hang out at with friends, eat good food, and drink good beer. And you still get cloth napkins.

I walked in with Pike the other night. Setting the tone for the rest of our time there, "when you walk in and hear the Black Crowes playing, that's the sign of a fine dining establishment" he said. Classic rock, comfort food and German lager is the Cliffs Notes of the two hours that followed. We started off with a quick round of Buffalo Wings. It's hard for me to walk into a bar and not get Buffalo wings, even though they're often made poorly and the best ones I've ever had have yet to be replicated. But actually, Johnny Mack's wings were pretty damn good. Spicy but not such that your taste buds have burned off, and sweet but not in a syrupy way.

For dinner, Pike ordered the Angus Burger with Bacon and Provolone, served with a side of fries. He loved this burger. Loved the burger, loved the fries, loved the diet Coke, loved the cutesy little plate it was on, loved the... okay, I exaggerate. He didn't mention the plate. But you get the point. My dinner was the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, served with greens and honey corn bread. Also good. And big. I couldn't finish it and had to bag up a good part of it to go. It was very moist under that crispy, peppery batter, which is a good sign that you're cook knows what he's doing and that he's not doing it to something that had been frozen solid fifteen minutes ago. The honey cornbread was sweet, but a bit dry. You know what would have gone great with this meal? That white gravy Southern restaurants dump on everything. Mmmmm...

For dessert Pike eyed the Chocolate Mousse. Rich and sweet and with a big Redi-Whip rose on top, it's pretty much what you'd expect it to be. As for me, I knew what I was getting from the minute I opened the menu. The Guinness Float, a pint o' stout with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream sitting dreamily on the surface. This dessert is exactly the kind of thing that no fancy restaurant could ever serve. Can you imagine some socialite with a vanilla foam mustache? Or a model dripping some froth on her Gucci miniskirt. My Heavens! Truth be told, it's too easy a concept for the chichi places to even ever think of to begin with. But shit if they aren't missing out. The trick here is not to drink it right away. Let that ice cream soften a bit. Let it melt into the Guinness and thicken the already heavy consistency. Then let it be one of the best things you've ever drunk.

Three drinks, an appetizer, two entrees, two desserts, two coffees, a cupcake*, tax and tip came to $91.

*Yep, they sell cupcakes. Pike got the Red Velvet to go for his girlfriend.

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