The Dark Horse has some catching up to do. Being a nightspot with a less than pristine reputation, they are making every effort, however, to be a kinder, gentler place.
During the week, the place best known for offering $1 beer specials offers different scenes, not throbbing house music and an ambiguous college crowd. The Dark Horse is attempting to carve out a niche where you can get a drink made strong and be around people who want to have fun.
My wife and I had just enjoyed a robust dinner at Guerriero's down the street. We weren't ready to go home right yet and after visiting our first choice–Hyatt Morristown–and discovering that this Tuesday night was 40's and 50's singles night, we were on our way back to our car.
I suggested to my wife that I wanted to review The Dark Horse. We walked in the door and to my surprise it was not dark at all! A friendly, young guy came in right after us and said that they weren't open yet, but if we wanted a drink, he would certainly serve one to us. And as far as the lighting was concerned, he turned the lights down low nearly immediately.
He introduced himself to me as Ian. I asked him about his pronounced accent. "Dublin, Ireland" he replied. Now, I love Dublin and have traveled there several times. I've always called it: "The friendliest city in Europe."
I asked for his list of cocktails. There were none, but he said that he could make just about anything I wanted. I asked for a Hendricks Martini. No, he had no Hendricks Gin. In fact, very apologetically, Ian said he had plenty of Gin, just no vermouth.
How could I fault a place that is apologetic and truly wants to please his customers? I cannot. I ordered a Makers Mark on the rocks. This drink was perfect! Ian used the right glass, a short Rocks glass, and he didn't overly fill the glass with ice.
Because I was unable to get exactly what I wanted the first time, my drink was on the house. This is a class act and a very welcome touch. So I cannot tell you what this drink would have cost.
Ian was genuinely sorry that he had no Vermouth for my Martini, and instead of sending me out without a cocktail, he made a new friend.
But truly the deal was sealed when he mentioned that guy from over at the Clearview Cinemas. I didn't know that Eric (the ticket guy for the past 30 years) was turning 50. That Eric has never had a vacation. That Eric's car was smashed in the parking lot of Headquarters Plaza and that The Dark Horse was holding a 50th birthday party for him in his honor, and that the proceeds of the party would pay for his car repair and send him on a much-deserved vacation.
I am truly touched. For all the rowdy behavior that many have described at the Dark Horse, I saw a kinder, gentler side. Maybe something changed?
The flier for Eric's Birthday Party says it all succinctly: "The person that put smiles on peoples faces for the past 30 years!"
I cannot fault a place with a soul. I just ask you to visit the Dark Horse on Sept. 28 and when you see Eric, shake his hand and thank him for being so humble and kind to his customers at Clearview Cinemas.
I award The Dark Horse 5 out of 5 stars, for their friendly service and a story to go with the drink. Isn't this what the bar business is about?