Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jekyll & Hyde's - Times Square

On Saturday the 25th of October, after we enjoyed our delicious Krispy Kreme Ghostbusters donuts, it was on to stage two of our perfect Hallowday!  Going along with our plan, we were off to Jekyll & Hyde Club in New York City.  Now, last year, we went to the original location in the Village and it was a blast.  Much like this go-around, we went the Saturday before Halloween and while it was filled with patrons dressed up in Halloween costumes, there was no wait and we were able to walk right in.  Well, in 2014, that wasn't so simple.  Being in the very heart of Times Square, Jekyll & Hyde was attracting a slew of customers all eagerly anticipating entrance into one of the coolest restaurant / bars in the city.  For a lover of the macabre, this was the place to be!  I looked at the line of people waiting outside and said to my girlfriend, "Nah, this line is for the Haunted House, we could walk right into the restaurant."  She said "No, I'm pretty sure this is the line to get into the restaurant."  Being that I'm always right, I quickly responded back with a chuckle and affirmation that "Nope, this is definitely just for the Haunted House."  Then, like an RKO outta nowhere, some random girl on the street turns to me and says "Um, no, that's actually the line for the restaurant."  Damn.. I stood there, stunned, owned by a stranger, and had to suffer from salt in the wound when I looked over at Eileen who was grinning ear to ear.  Alright alright.. Everybody has to be wrong at one point in their lives, right?  I swallowed my pride, pretended that it didn't happen, and got on line knowing girl power is alive and well.

The wait wasn't nearly as long as I expected and we had made our way to the front in less than 30 minutes.  As I stood there, I wondered what made this one so special and different from the other we visited last year.  That one was pretty small, but had a powerful punch and left a lasting impact on me.  My experience there was incredible and I was excited to see how this one measured up compared to the original.  After all, this is Times Square, NYC!  You don't open a location and last without doing something right.  I knew we were in for an awesome time!

When it was finally our time to go in, we had to complete one task before entering and it was done through the work of a volunteer.  A guy, about my age, dressed in a top hat and talked with an English accent without ever breaking character.  Like any good employee would, he chose a child to be that volunteer and lead us into the restaurant.  It was his job to enter the center door, which was designed as a phone booth, and let the dispatcher know that we were ready to enter.  Once we were in, they crammed us into a room that reminded me of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror queue and Haunted Mansion wrapped in one.  Thunder and lightning roared and illuminated as a spooky voice spoke over the loud speakers and the ceiling fell.  After we were given background information on Dr. Jekyll, it was time to leave that room and enter another where we'd meet the man himself.  Again, reminding me of Disney World, Dr. Jekyll was completely animatronic and looked great.  It was on par with anything else I've ever seen and I was impressed.  It was nice having a bit of entertainment involved before we even entered the restaurant.  That's something we didn't get last year and it's an added bonus.  After we raised our right hands and took Dr. Jekyll's pledge, we were permitted access to the restaurant & bar.

There was unfortunately another 10-15 minute wait before we could go to our table, but that was fine.  Going into this day, we had every intention of drinking our faces off and this was the perfect opportunity to begin.  So, instead of paying for their Chamber of Horrors, we walked over to the bar and were lucky enough to find two chairs next to one another.  As a lover of the little things, we were impressed by the decor and attention to detail.  This place was not only just as good as the original in terms of ambiance, but even better!  For example, when my girlfriend sat in her chair, we realized it was timed to animatronically drop and rise in random increments.  One minute she's eye level, then the next she's dropping to the floor.  It was so cool to see them add something so minute that most people would never even see or experience.  That's what I'm talking about when I say how important it is to go the extra mile.

My favorite part about going to spooky-themed restaurants or bars like Jekyll & Hyde are their specialty cocktails which are named and concocted to represent the season and spirit of Halloween perfectly.  To kick things off, Eileen started with a "Zombie."  This drink was a mixture of pineapple juice, orange juice, lime, and a whoooole lotta rum!  I tried it and it was much stronger than I expected for a relatively low NY price.  As for me, I chose to start with the "Kiss of Death."  It was simply cherry vodka and 7-UP, but sometimes that's all ya need.  I expected it to be red, but that obviously doesn't make sense.  Vodka isn't colored and while red would have looked cool, I actually love the fact that it's clear.  The kiss of death is something you never see coming and don't realize what it was until it hits you later on.

The food, especially the Penne Vodka, was amazing!  I was a bit turned off by the B rating on the window outside and walked in cautious, but there was nothing wrong with anything we experienced and found everything to be delicious.  In addition to the great food, the various character actors that walked around from table to table were phenomenal.  If I had to bet, I'd say half of them are in NY to become Broadway stars because they were all on-point at all times.  One guy, dressed as a mad scientist came over to Eileen and I and said "Sir.. Sir.. When you paid me to poison her, I put the poison in THESE appetizers!!  Obviously, you ate them so neither of you are going to get the full dose, but now you're both gonna get sick!  But it sucks for you, because now she's gonna live!"  I said "Oh man, so now I'm stuck with her?"  He said "Yeah, sorry buddy," then whispered to Eileen, "I think he bought it, thanks for doubling the pay!"

I mean, these guys and ghouls were all great and I especially enjoyed the way the interacted with kids.  I know how much it means to have such great Halloween memories created as a child and I could see the look on their faces.  They were enjoying themselves and were in the process of creating memories they'll never forget.  They'll talk about them 20-years from now and, if they have nothing better to do, they'll dedicate a blog to the feeling and emotions that come with that nostalgia.

In between laughs, the drinks flowed and I had to celebrate this day with some Absinthe.  The waitress warned me against the flavor, but I had it once before at Times Scare and knew how much it tasted like black licorice.  Yes, I hate black licorice and didn't necessarily like Absinthe the first time I tried it, but I didn't care.  Absinthe is probably the coolest Halloween drink on the market and I seem to only find it at locations like this.  For as much as it kinda tastes like garbage, I knew it got the job done and I was looking to get there faster than usual!  Thankfully, this one was actually really good.  The "Lucid Dream" is a mixture of Absinthe, rum, brandy, grenadine, orange juice and lime.  The ingredients, when combined, dilute the Absinthe enough that the licorice flavor is hardly effective.  Sure, it's still present, but it's fruitier and doesn't go down as harshly.  It was delicious and I was happy to have ordered it, despite being a little pricey!

In addition to the food and drinks, Jekyll & Hyde offers entertainment galore.  Everything from the music and lighting to the animatronics and decor are absolutely perfect.  Going even further, the character actors put on a show every few minutes for customers enjoying their experience.  They dance, they joke around, they bring out special guests like The Elephant Man, and interact with the various animatronic statues placed throughout the venue.  It's a complete immersion into the macabre and that's what makes it so much fun.  In a matter of minutes, you go from the streets of New York City to a world filled with Halloween spirit.  If you've never been there, I truly recommend you visiting at your earliest opportunity and convenience.  If you love Halloween as much as I do, you're guaranteed to have a spooky-good time!

I've been to Jekyll & Hyde's twice - in 2013 & 2014 - and I can now call this an annual tradition.  It's a shame that I didn't go out of my way to experience the in the Village and in Times Square earlier than last year, but I'm happy I decided to when I did because it's always better late than never.  This visit will now, without a doubt, be a yearly stop on our way to Halloween.  When it comes to restaurants and bars, none capture the essence of Halloween quite like Jekyll & Hyde and that's why it stands out so much to me during this time of year.  No, I couldn't see myself going there in the dead of Summer, but that also wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.  For me, it's purpose is to enhance the season, but I wouldn't be against celebrating earlier if somebody wanted to go.  This place is awesome and I hope it's around for a long long time.  Do yourself a favor and go to Jekyll & Hyde Club!!

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