As promised, I ate at Smokey's Pub on Fourth Avenue and 12th street.
Smokey's was a disappointment. My dream was that the chef would be an ex-fireman, the (extinct?) kind that lives in the firehouse and prepares macho food for New York's Bravest.
The real chef was a hired gun. You know, one of the multitudes of capable, catering-business types without an ounce of creativity or love of the genre. I asked him what he liked to cook, and he said he could cook anything.
The menu was "stock" suburban New York. Chicken Francaise, Veal Milanese, Pasta, Hamburgers, Fried Apps, steak, Chicken Club, etc. For the most part, what we ordered (Steak Au Poive, Grilled Chicken Caesar, Onion Rings) was prepared quite well, but there were no sparks. The steak, at $13.95, was a bargain, though. It was big, juicy, and well charred, though not too flavorful. The Au Poive designation was a hoax. The caesar salad was enormous and tasty, with a heavy anchovy flavor. It was probably a carbon copy of what one would be served at Tavern on the Green.
It bothers me, sometimes, that down-home restaurants in New York have to aspire to being "gourmet". Pub grub in other cities is often wonderful and unique. If Smokey's were in Baltimore, it would be run by a latent genius of an ex-fireman chef. For sure.
If you live within a five minute walk and don't mind the potentially drunken, all-male atmosphere (with one or two tables of upslope types), go ahead and try it. It's not terrible; just not what I had in mind.
N.B. they have a cheap, well-attended happy hour with a decent tap beer selection, and are right near the 4th Avenue/9th street station.