Eternally Friday Night

Frog Wine Bar

If homes have hearts—kitchens, per the idiom—then the pulse at Frog hammers out from the pool table. Upholstered in red felt, it has a certain chemical draw—its own pheromone pull. On any given night, you’ll find a rotating cast of players circling this field of engagement without pause, like schoolyard children.

Balanced precariously along the table’s wooden perimeter, stemmed glasses stand in droves, each containing something worth its spiel—Austrian co-ferments; Aligotés from Chablis; skin-contact Grechettos. Games start, games end, nothing spills, nothing breaks. That’s part of the magic. This out-of-time, context-less vignette whereby new parents and veteran pool sharks convene to play a game that seems base to the point of dullness—until, of course, you slide your hands along your own cue, at which point, the sport (yes, sport) consumes you entirely, like a black hole or a snake.

Let it be known: For folks with a vested interest in maintaining contact with reality, the bar’s backyard is as sprawling as its interior, checkered with round café tables, amphibian-shaped ash trays, the steady locomotive drone of giddy conversation carried out over rapidly draining bottles of natural wine. The inside, however, plays at a different kind of cinema. Indoors, time ceases its onward march; daylight is rendered irrelevant, each tableau feels preserved, eternal.

The hour is eternally 9pm—even when it’s 5pm, even when it’s 8pm. It’s a Friday night, even when it’s Monday. The light spills down slanted and red-rimmed from the sloped hanging lamp presiding over the table, while the roster of pool competitors rolls forward of its own propulsion like a prophecy or an oceanic thing. New teams and players glide in and out of games with a discipline so smooth and practiced, it makes a strong case for self-governance.

On occasion, you’ll catch admonishments issued from behind the register, where the couple who helms the bar stands at attention, polishing glasses and wrenching corks from an ever-rotating selection of bottles. Charles might heckle you for a sloppy shot, his jabs only softened by his clipped French accent. Alex might roll her eyes, grinning, before stepping outside for a cigarette, dressed in some maximal, operatic pair of vintage pants—the likes of which she alone can sport without giving the impression that she’s attending a costume party.

Plates of buttered sourdough and tinned sardines will be passed around like trading cards, clattered down on communal tables occupied by former strangers, all of whom have unwittingly found themselves enmeshed in conversation, unified, breaking bread (in the literal sense). Boundaries will melt in service of easy rapport,
exchanged names, shared bottles. No one will talk on their phone.

At intervals, a barback will clear vacant stemware scattered around the room. The sun will lower completely, and by osmosis the backyard crowd will transition indoors. All the while, the array of folks shrining the pool table will continue to bow forward, cues in hand, heads lowered in focus, as if saying grace.