Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton


I don't have much experience with dive bars, but I'll rearrange my concept of dive bars to put Gooski's right at the center. Note the graffiti covering the right door; this sort of graffiti was everywhere inside.

Gooski's was very dark; the only illumination was two tinted windows at the front, a line of red bulbs behind the bar, a TV, and a black light somewhere. After my eyes adjusted a bit, the first thing I saw was a poster of Johnny Cash flipping the bird to the camera.

Gooski's is a venue where a bunch of punk and metal bands play, and it's definitely copping a punk attitude. For example, this menu board says at the bottom, "Prices do not include tax (money paid to the gov't for the privilege of eating)".
A sign scrawled at the bar said, "Pay when you order. Have your money ready. Don't make us kill you." The sign and the darkness definitely inhibited me from taking lots of pictures. I felt very much out of my depth. But there was some little hints of former propriety, such as a semi-ornate mirror advertising Harp that was now covered with graffiti; these hints made me think of a punk who was once a preppie.

I ordered kielbasa and kraut and pierogies from the section of the menu board labeled "Pseudo-ethnic", and an order of wings from the "Yinzer Gooski's Meal" section, and took a seat at one of the two little tables that captured a bit of light from the windows. Even next to the windows, my photos were very dark; I've had to edit my pictures very heavily to get some modicum of visibility.

Frankly, I was prepared to feel scornful towards my food, just because I didn't fit in so strongly. But the kielbasa in my kielbasa and kraut was really pretty good. I did feel it was grilled too long, though; it was definitely tough enough that I could feel it in my jaws hours later.

The sauce on the Buffalo wings had a dark, surly undercurrent of flavor, more like a caterwauling electric guitar than the bright clear brass of a typical wing sauce. I am, of course, transferring my feelings about the restaurant onto the wings - but there certainly were black specks in the sauce that made it possible for me to make that transfer.

The pierogies were plump and buttery. Perhaps not the best pierogies I've had, but pretty tasty.

One last detail about the Gooski's: there was a group of guys gathering at the bar near me with tattoos and leather jackets. I thought that they looked like bikers, and then reproached myself for yielding so to judging by stereotype. But then as I left, I saw a line of six motorcycles parked outside, and I said to myself, "Hah! Told you!". But my reproachful side has a point - these guys looked much more like stereotypical bikers than most motorcyclists do. They did provide a Pittsburgh touch, though: I overheard one of them talking about "gumbands", which is a bit of Pittsburgh dialect that I rarely hear. (No photo of the bikers; I was inhibited.)

The food was reasonably good, on the whole. I could learn to become comfortable in Gooski's, but I'm not convinced that I want to expend the effort to do so. There's a lot to be said for a dining experience with a less offputting atmosphere, where staff might ask if I want anything to drink.
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