Sometimes I like to daydream about an imaginary tourist lady from Ohio, who has taken the PATH to Hoboken to ogle Buddy Valastro for an afternoon. Her name is probably Doreen, and she is instantly charmed by the cobblestones of Hudson Place. She probably also secretly thinks there are a lot of bars in this town, and more than a few hooligans, but she wouldn’t say it aloud.
She crosses the street and she catches a glimpse of a looming structure, decked out in holiday lights, with what looks like a fishtank the size of the shark tanks at the Camden Aquarium. Doreen (whatever), asks herself, “Is this the palatial home of a mob boss? Is this ‘The Sopranos?’”
Nope, lady from Ohio. What you are standing in front of is arguably Hoboken’s fanciest, and weirdest bar and restaurant, .
I finally twisted my boyfriend’s arm into taking me to Teak this week (it’s not exactly the type of place you can roll up to for a beer). He saw the outside of the bar and immediately wanted to turn around. It didn’t help that two cabbies were getting into a fight nearby (“Get out of the car, I’m gonna get you!” was heard).
Still, who can’t be charmed by the décor of Teak? Besides that crazy fishtank full of koi the size of my head, there are statues of medieval lions, what looked like an art deco wall, and – wait a minute – is that a cauldron with dry ice? Oh, yes it is.
So we sat down at the bar and got some booze and soda. Nothing too fancy for us here. Mixed drinks ran about $9, and were okay. I had a couple and didn’t get too wasted (which I judge by how many embarrassing stories I spill out – only two!) On tap is the usual: Coors, Sam Adams, Blue Moon, Guinness, Yuengling. Bottles available are Amstel, Budweiser, Corona and Sapporo. It interesting that there’s only one Japanese beer on the menu, seeing as how this is supposed to be a sushi place, basically.
The clientele is the upscale professional type you would expect. Everyone was wearing a tie or a slinky one-shoulder dress. Everyone was on a date, of course. I asked my boyfriend if we could pretend that we just met through Craigslist’s “casual encounters” section. He doesn’t really think I’m funny.
Anyway, the music selection was the worst of Top 40 radio. Like, okay, it’s cool if you want to play that new Lady Gaga song with Clarence Clemons on the sax, but when you follow it up with Train, Jesse McCartney and a really, really ancient Destiny’s Child song, I’ve got to wonder exactly whose iPod is hooked up to the speakers.
“The fish are rad, but everything else is stupid,” said my boyfriend. By the way, is it weird to order fish when live fish are swimming right in front of you? Do the chefs at Teak just jump in there and spear one for you?
We were under the assumption that Teak was basically sushi and Japanese food, but then a waiter totally walked by with a plate of chips and salsa and what looked suspiciously like a Bloomin’ Onion. Right then I had wished that we grabbed a food menu.
“I hate this bar,” my dude reiterated.
Okay, I get it!
So before we finally made our exit (to eat pizza next door), I waded through the silk shirt masses to hit the bathroom. (As a sidenote, I do keep meaning to take the bathroom scene into more serious consideration in these reviews. If you are a lady, you will be spending half your time waiting on line for a stall anyway!)
Two girls were inside, and one was crying into a tissue. “Why is this happening to me?” she whined.
“We’ll go to CVS and get the stuff, and it’ll clear up,” said her friend.
So, on that note, I’ll award Teak five out of ten frosty mugs (or chilled martini glasses?). Sure, it’s probably a nice date night for some people, and like shooting fish in a barrel for guys in striped shirts on the weekend. But between the weird over-the-top décor (a cauldron, really?!), the basically terrible music and the strange ladies you will meet in the bathroom… well, it’s all a little too much. I don’t recommend that you make it a habit, but I do recommend that you stop by at least once to check it out. The swimming koi fish are pretty hypnotic, at least.
16 Hudson Place; 201-653-6888. Check out teakonthehudson.com for more.
The Bar Hopper is a sometimes tongue-in-cheek look at Hoboken's abundant bar scene. The views expressed in these reviews are half-sloshed, and do not reflect the overall views of Patch.