350 5th Ave
New York, New York
Visited on March 19, 2014
Heartland Brewery is a small chain of brewpubs located throughout New York City. My hotel was a scant half-mile away from the location in the Empire State Building, so that’s where I spent the majority of my last night in the city.
It’s pretty much exactly what I expected from a touristy chain in Manhattan. The rooms (multiple) are gigantic and glitzy. Everything is extremely well-polished and overstated. There’s a ton of televisions, a lot of lights, and a lot of decorations to distract the eye.
The food sucks. I ordered a buffalo burger with some fries not expecting much, which is exactly what I got. The bun was a bit stale; the burger was overcooked and tasted like it had been frozen in patty form for some months. The fries were unexceptional. It might have even been sub-Applebee’s-standard.
The beer was also less than impressive. I ordered a flight, which came with all of their year-round brews and the choice of one of their current seasonal offerings. I do appreciate the vast variety and sheer number of rotating taps. However, none of them would be able to stand out in a crowd of other mediocre brewpubs from across the country.
One awesome thing I will say about this spot, which is probably true of any spot in Manhattan, is the people. I sat next to an interesting couple arguing—the man with a thick Irish accent—for several hours about their relationship. I sat next to an interesting Cornell graduate student and struck up an interesting conversation on the economics of being a PhD student. When he left, an interesting older Italian man looking to open businesses in New York practiced his English with me and invited me to stay in his villa on the Italian coast. A random Swedish girl ordering a drink thought it was odd I was drinking alone and invited me to sit with her and her male companion.
It was an interesting night at least, even if everything else was average at best.