Chef Brian MacMenamin Debuts Club Car in Mamaroneck’s Historic Metro-North Station, a Trio of Seminars by James Beard Award Recipients at Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Weekend, Benziger Family Winery at Plates



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First Taste: Club Car Restaurant-Lounge

Chef Brian MacMenamin has been around the Sound Shore for ages, since way back when his popular Larchmont Avenue Oyster House held the Chatsworth Avenue spot currently occupied by Chat 19. From there (in a daring move that shocked much of his Larchmont fan base), MacMenamin moved to New Rochelle’s large Plastic Works building off I-95. He painted the landmark’s distinctive purple and lavender exterior a tasteful cream and green and turned the vast, historic structure into MacMenamin’s Grill & ChefWorks, a combination cooking school, television studio, restaurant, and nightclub. When that space changed hands (and, for those keeping track, morphed into the phenomenally successful Don Coqui), Chef MacMenamin could be found at New Rochelle’s modest Post Road Ale House. Now you can find him behind Mamaroneck’s new Club Car Restaurant Lounge.

Photo by Jen Parente

We dropped in last week, and there is a lot to love about Club Car, most notably its urbane repurposing of Mamaroneck’s lovely circa 1888 station. Sure, that trick has been done before at Grand Central and in a few other hubs, but nowhere in Westchester with as much style as at Club Car. The station’s light-filtering stained-glass windows have been cleaned and restored, and its ornate ticket windows now decorate Club Car’s cozy bar. The former waiting room’s intricate, carved-wood fireplace has been meticulously stripped of a century’s worth of paint and now lies duly celebrated as the beckoning focus of Club Car’s cozy lounge. My sympathies go to homeward-bound Mamaroneck commuters; it’ll be tough to walk by Club Car knowing that a warming cocktail and hearth lay inside those brawny, wooden doors. Look for the restored woodwork and moldings to be joined by exposed ductwork, a  glittering new tin ceiling, a long marble bar, soaring bared brick walls, and sparkling chandeliers. Taken together, the space offers three distinct draws: a restaurant, bar, and hearth-warmed lounge.

 

 

Photo by Jen Parente

Befitting a restaurant lodged in a commuter hub, Club Car’s menu couldn’t be more democratic. On it, you’ll find an eclectic brand of New Americanism with a raw bar joining globe-trotting starters like escargot, crispy calamari, empanadas, and she-crab soup. To be clear, EDP’s First Tastes are not critical reviews. We ducked in about one week after Club Car opened, and it’s way too soon to judge. As one might expect, there were a few stumbles—service was slow and our waiter could not recite the cocktail list (which was as yet unprinted). Most crushingly, four of our six Nantucket oysters were plated upside down onto their flat top shells, causing any of the precious liquor in their cup-like bottoms to be lost in the plate’s ice. But no matter. The oysters’ tart-hot mignonette was enough to make my mouth water, and a giant, beefy burger with Stilton and bacon soothed any hard feelings. Also, look for a comforting lamb ragu over (to be honest) somewhat firm gnocchi. The dish’s soulfulness helped me to overlook its flaws.

 

I need to reiterate, it’s still early days. One can’t expect perfection in Club Car’s first week of operation. Knowing this, we can only expect great things in its future—and I can’t wait to take up residence by that fireplace. 

 

 

Hot Dates: Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Weekend, May 17 through 20

Looks like we’ll be getting Westchester’s biggest collection of James Beard Award winners all together under one roof during Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Weekend, which kicks off on Thursday, May 17, with a Beer Bash that’ll rock White Plains with hundreds of revelers, great street foods, and several bars pouring local beers (including four Captain Lawrence brews). Not only will multiple James Beard Award winner Dan Barber be honored with his partners in Blue Hill, David and Laureen Barber, but, during the Grand Tastings, we’ll have seminars from three James Beard Award winners. Here’s what you need to know:

Kevin Zraly: “A Tour Through Tuscany”

Saturday, May 19, noon

$25 per person

Kevin Zraly: “Wines of Bordeaux”

Sunday, May 20, 12:30 pm

$25 per person (includes wines)

In 2011, author and wine expert, Kevin Zraly, won the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in wine education; his Windows on the World Wine School and books (Kevin Zraly’s Complete Wine Course, Windows on the World Complete Wine Course) have made him one of America’s most beloved wine educators. Zraly will be debuting two new seminars during Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Weekend, “A Tour Through Tuscany” and “Wines of Bordeaux.” Tickets are $25 per person and include samples from many multi-hundred-dollar bottles of wine. Here’s his James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award video:

 

David Wondrich “Modern Mixology: Bringing Cocktails Home”
Saturday, May 19, 2:30 pm
$25 per person (includes cocktails)

Bartender, cocktail writer, and historian (and general bon vivant) David Wondrich won the 2008 James Beard Award for Best Book, Wine & Spirits for Imbibe!, a collection of history, recipes, and lore about cocktails. Wondrich will be teaching our Saturday cocktail seminar, Modern Mixology. Tickets are $25 and samples are included. Here’s David on The Colbert Report.

Dale DeGroff “Prohibition Cocktails Clinic”'
Sunday, May 20, 1:45 pm
$25 per person (includes cocktails)
Look for a multimedia, one-man show themed On the  Town: A Tribute to Bars, Speaks, and Legendary Saloons. In the presentation, “King Cocktail” himself, Dale DeGroff, will explore bar life in America, from Colonial times through Prohibition, revealing the colorful story of the cocktail and the antics that drove this amazing phenomenon. Look for historic drinks and storytelling, along with old-timey music. Here’s DeGroff in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxPh13zhONo.

 

Revenant Wines & Tony Knox at Xaviars at Piermont

April 17, 6:30 pm
$125 per person, inclusive of tax and gratuity (seating is extremely limited...please reserve early; 845- 359-7007)

From the invitation, “The most exciting and delicious wines you have NEVER heard of...but will be so happy to get to know!

We are thrilled to welcome our good friend Tony Knox to Xaviars at Piermont where he will present a mini-retrospective of his Revenant wines [as well as a couple of surprises from some of his wine-making friends!]. Tony has a storied history in the wine business, from importing some of Italy's great wines to building other wineries into household names, but all along he has cultivated friendships and vineyard relationships in the Napa Valley that has led to the creation of Revenant. Simply put, the man has ACCESS to GREAT vineyards and has terrific talent and flair for making wine. Tony's wines are stylish, authentic and abundantly delicious. They are all made in miniscule quantities and always sell out so quickly. We have had a bit of an exclusive on the wines and are very excited to share our friend's wines with our guests. And you've heard of 'Friends with Benefits'? The benefit here is that one of Tony's wine mentors is Dr. Terry Leighton of Kalin Cellars. he Leightons have sent in from their wine library the Kalin Chardonnay 'Cuvée LD' 1995 to compliment the menu for the evening.

One of Tony's Revenant wines being featured at Westchester Magazine’s Wine & Food Weekend, at The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, in White Plains May 19 and 20. We greatly anticipate the 2nd Annual Wine & Food Weekend and we are happy to offer a sneak-peek at some of the compelling quality and entertaining tasting available at this event. Foodie Alert: This is a terrific event and is well on its way to becoming the signature Wine & Food event in the Greater New York region.

The dinner at Xaviars at Piermont will feature Tony's Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, sourced from two exclusive vineyards and farmed to his exacting specifications; the opulent and heady Cuvée Americaine, a vineyard-based blend that varies vintage-to-vintage in use of Syrah, Zinfandel, etc.; and the charming collaborative effort, Cuvée du Griot. We will taste two vintages each of the Cab and the Cuvée Americaine to explore how Tony works with nature and vintage to express delicious Napa!"


The Hit List...The Lineup...
Chardonnay, Kalin Cellars, Cuvée LD, 1995
Griot Cellars, Cuvée du Griot Napa Valley, 2008
Cabernet Sauvignon Revenant, Napa Valley 2006
Cabernet Sauvignon Revenant, Napa Valley 2007
Cuvée Américaine, Revenant, Napa Valley 2007
Cuvée Américaine, Revenant, Napa Valley 2008

 

Earth Day Wine Dinner with Benziger Family Winery at Plates [FYI, THIS EVENT INFO IS CORRECT, BUT EARTH DAY IS APRIL 22]

Tuesday, May 1, 7 pm

$100 (+tax and gratuity)

From the invitation, “Plates, in partnership with Winetasters of Larchmont, presents Earth Day Wine Dinner with the Benziger Family. Benziger Family Winery is an 85-acre, certified Biodynamic Sonoma Mountain estate that’s become a research and teaching center for the cultivation of grapes with more flavor, intensity and site-specific vineyard character. The family shares its farming knowledge and experience with their longtime grower partners throughout Sonoma County.

Biodynamic farming is the highest form of organic farming. It goes beyond the elimination of all chemical inputs. It incorporates the environment in and around the vineyard and works with nature to apply the knowledge of life forces to bring about balance and healing in the soil.” Here’s the menu:

First Course:  Duo of Trout – Tasmanian Sea Trout Tartar, Horseradish Cream / Smoked Brook Trout, Warm Pear, Fennel, Celery, Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette Benziger Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc

Second Course: Branzino – Pickled Ramps & Fava Bean Risotto, Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes, Tomato Confit Benziger Family Winery Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay

Third Course: Duck & Guinea Hen Lasagetta with Wild Mushrooms Benziger Family Winery Russian River Pinot Noir

Fourth Course: Wagyu Sirloin - Raclette Potato Beignet, Truffled Spring Ragu Benziger Tribute Meritage Blend

Fifth Course: Bittersweet Valrhona Dark Chocolate Mousse, Cinnamon Custard, Cherry Moonshine Ice Cream

Contact www.platesonthepark.com, 121 Myrtle Blvd, Larchmont, (914) 834-1244

 

Hot Plate: Grilled Asparagus with Glazed Gorgonzola at Club Car

Oh, it’s asparagus time! Spring is when these delicate, grassy stalks replace the fat, fibrous variety that we’ve been struggling with all winter. At Club Car Restaurant-Lounge, Mamaroneck’s buzzy new debut, you’ll find these pretty little stalks simply grilled to develop some smoky, caramelized flavor then served with funky Gorgonzola and Piemonte truffled balsamic reduction. Welcome to spring!