Sigh. Blind Barber Is Good.
Here’s what it’s like to get your haircut at Center City’s newest bar. And here’s what it’s like to get a drink at Center City’s newest barber shop.
Blind Barber should not be good. Speakeasy-style bars are passé, hybrid bar-restaurants can be gimmicky, it’s a chain out of New York, it’s owned by some groomed-ass baseball player named Bryce Harper, and baseball sucks. Plus, I’ve got already got a barber I trust (shout-out to Carlos at the Pennsport Barber Shop) who cuts my hair for $35 — which is $20 cheaper than the cheapest cut at Blind Barber.
Now, mind you, my hair is not easy to cut. I am of both Jewish and Middle Eastern descent, so it’s got this Marge-Simpson-meets-Tony-Shalhoub thing about it. I’ve gone to countless barbers in my life, many of whom were undone by its curls and strength. It has, no joke, jammed electric clippers. It’s snapped shears. Sometimes, when I walk down the street, babies will look at my head and cry.
Asking this new guy, this Alex Brenard, to cut my hair was a risk. And I took it for you. Because you, dear reader, deserve to know if Blind Barber — this barber shop/cocktail bar/club, new in Midtown Village — is worth your money and time. And wouldn’t you know it? It is.
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You drink for free when you’re getting your haircut, which is: 1) the only reason why I get to write about this on Foobooz; and 2) the kind of self-care men don’t normally allow themselves. Some shops offer you a canned beer with your cut, sure, but a cocktail? A bespoke drink? A classic? That’s luxury. I was only able to drink one Negroni before Brenard was done with me, but I could have downed two if I put my mind to it. One drink softens the blow of a $55 haircut. Two offsets the cost. The Negroni itself was prepared correctly — which isn’t hard, I know, since the recipe is three equal parts — but you’d be shocked by how many bad, careless Negronis I’ve had over the years. This wasn’t one. Honestly, the only gripe I had with it — with the entire concept of drinking a cocktail with my cut — was the fact that it didn’t come with a clip-on fan or a cap protecting the glass’s gaping maw from falling hair. That the only way to shield your drink from shrapnel was by hiding it under your bib (cape? cloth?). And even then, I still sipped up a few hairs.
If you don’t want to drink during your haircut, you have every right to wait till it’s finished and get your free drink at the bar. The bar is not in the same room as the barber shop. It’s in the back behind a door, giving the whole place lame speakeasy vibes. But Brenard told me about the door right away. I didn’t have to figure it out, I didn’t have to find it. It’s very much a poorly kept secret, intentionally so, which I appreciate. It’s dim back there. First date-y. There’s a kitchen that does grilled cheese and dips. And upstairs, there’s a second bar/lounge/dance floor where Asher Roth — the Asher Roth; Sir Asher Roth — is Blind Barber’s DJ-in-residence. For those of you interested.
And my haircut? Brenard is a pro. King Arthur to my Excaliburic hair. It’s been about three weeks since my cut, and my hair still has shape, when usually, by now, it’s devolved into an unkempt Chia Pet. He offered me unsolicited hair care advice — curls like mine need moisture! Who knew? — and even recommended some store-brand hair products he stands by instead of upselling with products sold in the shop.
I left Blind Barber (1325 Sansom Street) smelling of Campari (a nice little aftereffect of getting your haircut there), reckoning with the fact that I very much enjoyed Blind Barber. Asher Roth’s upstairs club thing isn’t for me, but the cut? The back bar? The free drink? All better than expected, if not great — even if a few hairs fell into my Negroni.
At least, for the first time in my food writing career, I can confidently say that they were my own.