Branded Saloon is an all-encompassing "Wild West" themed bar located in Prospect Heights. Think: Splash Mountain meets laid-back bar. They make a stiff drink (whiskey in a mug - need I say more?), have a dingy yet clean atmosphere with hardwood booths, barrel sinks in the bathroom, wagon wheel chandeliers and tons of taxidermy.
A Branded Breakdown:
Branded has a jukebox, however, it's really a roll of the dice whether the fact that they have a jukebox there is great or not. Sometimes the music is loud (and seems to be even louder when its not something you want to listen to). Other times it's too low and something you wish they'd turn up - but New York City IS America's melting pot so I guess it all just comes with the territory! Either way, despite their musical interests, the crowd has always been a good time, though. I have always left there meeting someone new and interesting. It's a nice alternative to the overcrowded Manhattan scene when you don't feel like traveling to another boro just to socialize and have a few drinks. When they have live music in the back room, they often set it up to play in the front as well. There is a game room downstairs with a pool table.
Food: Most of their food is basic American comfort food staples and bar food. If you're a meat-eater, they go for the Branded Burger ($12) or Blackened Catfish Sliders ($10). If you are a bit more of an herbivore, I did very much like their Grilled Veggie Burger ($10) or at least their fries ($7) which were super crispy and hot. Brunch serves up a carafe of mimosas for $10 and some pretty great jam and peppery gravy. As for late night munchies, they generally serve food until about 3 A.M. seven days a week, making this place a great final resting point after a night of hopping up and down Vanderbilt.
Drinks: They have a decent selection of beers on tap. Also, they have cider on tap. Again, I must note, I have never had a bartender here who has not had a pretty heavy hand - keep this in mind if you are a lightweight or else you're night could go devastatingly wrong. On weekends, they have a nicely stocked DIY Bloody Mary station. A fun "Fancy Drinks" menu is available with some of their specialties which change occasionally. Some of the drinks can be pricey so if you're watching your wallet they do have $2 PBR cans.
Service: The service here is somewhat inconsistent. I don't very often see familiar faces there and even when I do buybacks are rare. The food has either been shocking fast to be plated out in front of me or excruciatingly slow. There has also been some lag time between when the food arrived (even for the same exact dish) for myself and whomever I was with. Shift changes leave the bartenders and waitstaff acting a little distant. Also, on occasion the bartender is working as the server as well, which understandably can be stressful but it can sometimes be taken out on the customer. Other times, I have had the friendliest and most outgoing servers. It seems to just depend on the day.
Other fun things to note about Branded Saloon: They have Karaoke Nights on Thursdays starting at 10 P.M., trivia on Thursdays at 8 P.M., and Happy Hour. Their website http://www.brandedsaloon.com/ has a calendar of events and lists off any new additions to their food and drink menus.