Barstool: First/Burke Street bar crawl

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Khaleesi the dog latched onto my friend Sam.
Khaleesi the dog latched onto my friend Sam.

by Eric Ginsburg

We could’ve just stayed at the Quiet Pint.

The tavern is significantly nicer than most of its surroundings — which include a cremation business, auto shop and gas station — and calls to mind Austin, Texas with its unfinished wood and brick exterior, strings of white lights, large patio and indie-rock playlist featuring the likes of Band of Horses.

But the gastropub near Baptist Hospital wasn’t packed with hipsters on a recent Friday night. Instead, the median age skewed older, many of the people appearing to be married and financially stable, though a few groups of younger friends helped fill the place up.

Inside the Quiet Pint
Inside the Quiet Pint

Despite an hour wait by 7 p.m., the patio remained largely empty. Grabbing coats from the car, we cut the line and started ordering.

The Quiet Pint isn’t one of those bars that include food as an afterthought, a cheap ploy to keep its visitors drinking. While plenty of the options could be classified as bar food, the venue aims a little higher. A lamb dog; QP Burger with jam and brie; sausage flatbread; North Carolina poutine. We happily consumed them all, agreeing that a double-decker, five-cheese sandwich with bacon called the Fork & Knife bested the bunch.

DSC03056It was some time after the first beer, likely while adding hot sauce to the flatbread, that I said, “You know, we can just stay here.”

But that wasn’t the plan, and my friends Lauren and Sam agreed we should follow through on our initial intentions: a bar crawl up the street. It was a Friday night, they pointed out, and we could always come back.

Three bars and a bunch of beers later, we all agreed that we made the right choice, but also concurred that the Quiet Pint was easily our preferred destination.

Our evening took us to First Street Draught House, a building a block away that looks like a converted diner. Barstools ring an island in the center, and when a friend joined us briefly our cluster of four left little space for people to pass by to reach the bathroom.

Plans to walk up the street, where the road splits and more bars populate Burke Street, were scrapped after one look at the hill ahead, but we easily found parking at Burke Street Pub. Inside, dueling DJs played different songs, one operating from a back patio with an inexplicable beach theme. Between them, we played ping-pong on a beat up table in a well lit and forgotten arcade as “Bye, Bye, Bye” played from the patio and a bachelorette party wandered between the venue’s two bars.

Overly spiced pumpkin beers, on special that night, didn’t help make up for the bizarre vibe and sparse attendance.

Across the street at Old Winston Social Club, a great Pyrenees named Khaleesi — the “Mother of Dragons” from Game of Thrones — greeted us at the sidewalk seating. This is where the college kids come to drink, or one of their haunts at least. None of the Wake Forest bros or the bevy of blond women who just hit legal drinking age were taking advantage of OWSC’s quite comfortable couches or two long shuffleboard tables, though a few dudes played with 2-by-4 Jenga pieces in the back and a throng of people mobbed the bar.

Old Winston Social Club
Old Winston Social Club

The somewhat posh drinking establishment and array of craft beers on tap led us to agree that we would return here on another night, one hopefully with fewer 21-year-olds. Especially if the annual Mac & Cheese Fest, held in the fall, happens again at the Old Winston Social Club soon.

And while we will recall the venue with fondness — mostly because Khaleesi climbed onto the couch and posted up on Sam’s lap, ignoring her owner — it is the Quiet Pint that we talked about on the car ride home.