In New York, there are few bars that I feel have restorative properties. Most of the time, bars here take my money, my brain cells, and my dignity and leave me in excruciating pain the next morning. And then I kick the bartender out of my bed. Just kidding.
Still, when I need some sanctuary in the city, I go to KGB Bar in the East Village and down a bottle of Baltika beer while either listening to a reading or hanging out with some old friends. It's moderately quiet there and has the faint air of pseudointellectualism, so of course I'm right at home. The one caveat: You might have to listen to some bad music. Really bad music. They played Fergie tonight, and I'm not sure I'll ever view the bar the same way again. Oh, who am I kidding? You know I'll always love you, KGB.