Manhattan's, the cozy bar on the corner of Central Street and Jackson Avenue that closed in 2010 after 23 years in business, was an Old City institution. So Randy and Jenny Boyd, the owners of Boyd's Jig & Reel, the new Scottish pub that opened in the old Manhattan's space a few weeks ago, kept their updates subtle, polishing up Manhattan's clubby vibe with comfortable Old World charm, an impressive selection of Scotch whisky, and a new, bigger listening room for a full schedule of upcoming (mostly) acoustic concerts.
The biggest change may be the brick exterior, which has been painted deep red. The main room has stayed essentially the same, except that the cigarette smoke residue accumulated over the years has been scrubbed off the walls and a faux fireplace has been installed. The bar has been stocked with dozens and dozens of bottles of Scotch—blends and single malts, highland and low country—and the menu has been given a distinctly British flavor with fish and chips, stovies (a mix of vegetables and lamb), and something called a Scotch egg, a "traditional Scottish dish consisting of a boiled egg wrapped in sausage and fried to a golden brown," according to the menu. The bartender swears it tastes better than it sounds.
The second bar has been removed to make for more space in the adjacent listening room, which has already featured live performances by a daunting list of local and touring rootsy and acoustic acts, including Pokey LaFarge, Malcolm Holcombe, and the Two Man Gentlemen Band. (Upcoming shows include the Woody Pines, Lydia Loveless, the Womack Family Band, the Fells, and a CD release show for Jeff Barbra and Sarah Pirkle's new gospel disc.) The Jig & Reel has also already established a regular lineup of jam sessions—bluegrass on Tuesday nights, Irish on the first and third Tuesday of each month, Scottish on the second and third Tuesday, and old-time on the second Sunday of each month.