First Taste: The Craftsman Ale House; Valentine’s Day at Chiboust and The Cookery; Sexy Crostini di Fegatini at Zuppa in Yonkers
First Taste: The Craftsman Ale House @Anthony’s Bar and Grill
Do you know that scene in Dr. Strangelove, when Slim Pickens straddles The Bomb as it screams to its target? Lately, trying to keep up with all the news in Westchester craft beer, I’ve been feeling like thatcharacter. The big beer news of this week is that Anthony’s Bar and Grill in Harrison has reintroduced itself as The Craftsman Ale House. Its slogan is “craft beer and burgers”; you gotta love the clarity of vision.
There is a lot to like about The Craftsman Ale House. Its modest aims are echoed in its cozy, slightly worn storefront which—aside from the lineup of flat screens behind the bar—steps off the beaten pub path with bright lights and pale walls. Craftsman is not fancy, but it’s not pretending to be; this makes The Craftsman Ale House a welcome change from those grave, cherry-paneled taverns that always feel like they’d much rather be libraries than neighborhood bars.
And, oh, are the folks at Craftsman enthusiastic! Not only is its staff remarkably pleasant and accommodating, but, according to The Craftsman, the idea for the new venture comes from bartender and avid home brewer Joe Vicidomini. Currently, Craftsman offers nods to home brewers with meetings, held on the last Saturday of every month, which also welcome wine and mead hobbyists and cheerily advises, “Got a Home Brew? Bring It.” Though Craftsman offers only nine taps (the merest trickle, compared to Yard House’s 130), as I write, the all-American beers were nicely priced at $5 per pint and included interesting picks from Itahaca and Lagunitas. Plus, not only does Craftsman’s beer list thoughtfully include ABV% and state of origin, but, on the night that we visited, they were pouring Farnum Hill Dooryard Cider. This feels like a daring choice for a Westchester bar with only nine taps.
Craftsman wants you to like it. Along with $5 draughts, it offers flights of 8-ounce sampler glasses (four picks for $10, and eight for $20), along with 64-ounce growler fills that cost, at this moment, only $15. While Craftsman charges $10 for “takeaway souvenir” growler bottles, it’ll also fill any growler that you bring in. And there are other incentives, like a “Growler Club” that pours a free growler fill for every five that you purchase. Also, look for daily Happy Hours from 3 to 7 pm ($4 wines and select draughts), plus “Kill the Keg” parties every Saturday night at 7pm with $3 pints until the featured tap runs dry.
And food? As Craftsman’s streamlined slogan suggests, the menu is short and burger-centric, though you may pick your patty’s composition from ground beef, turkey, veggies, and chicken. Sadly, both of the beef burgers ($10) we tasted were ordered medium rare and arrived well done. We much preferred a nicely sour/hot pile of chicken wings ($8), giant onion rings ($5), and an attractive, if basic, Cobb salad ($10) with chicken, egg, bacon, and avocado.
Where will all this beer stuff end? I can’t tell you, but it seems like a craft beer joint opens every time I crave a glass of wine or bourbon. I managed to speak with dapper Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, at the Blue Hill at Stone Barns Sausage & Beer Dinner last week and he sharply corrected me for saying that the current interest in craft beer is a trend. According to Oliver, the real historical blip is the recent boom in vast breweries slinging common-denominator beer like Bud. America’s growing thirst for interesting local brews is actually a return to historical normalcy. I’m glad that modest neighborhood bars like Craftsman are tucking back into the stream of American history.
Just a heads-up. Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are the biggest nights in the restaurant world. Don’t think you can look up at 7 pm on the 14th and say, “So, honey…where would you like to go?” Smart money books their VD rezzies ahead of time. Check out these two EDP picks:
Valentine’s Day at Chiboust Bistro & Bakery
February 14, with live music from 7 to 10pm
$75 per person, exclusive of beverage, tax, and tip
From the invitation: “Chiboust is Celebrating Our 8 Year Anniversary! We hope you'll join us for a delectable 4-course prix fixe menu complete with Champagne and chocolates all weekend long— Saturday, Sunday, and Monday too! An à la carte menu will also be available.”
Chiboust Valentine’s Weekend Prix-Fixe Menu
Truffled Parsnip Purée
Chicken Liver Mousse with Onion Marmalade and Yucca Chips
Bluepoint Oysters with Smoky Tomatillo Mignonette
Shaved Fennel and Tangerine with Date-Tamarind Crostini
Warm Octopus Salad with Fingerling Potatoes and Celeriac
Goat Cheese Fritters, Roasted Pear, Pomegranate, and Baby Arugula
Braised Pork Belly Tartine on Brioche, Onion Jam
Pan Seared Sea Scallop
Sunchoke Purée, Mache, Bacon Pistachio Brittle
Seared Arctic Char
Truffled Wild Mushroom, Leeks, Port Wine Reduction
Braised Beef Short Rib
Smoked Garlic Potato Purée, Haricot Verts, Tomato
Sage Scented Sweet Potato Gnocchi
Swiss Chard, Roasted Fennel, Pine Nuts, Asiago
Champagne & Truffles
Coffee & Tea
Valentine’s Day at The Cookery
À la carte menu with Valentine’s Day specials
Chef David DiBari is going for your girl with Valentine’s Day specials like pork belly agro dolce with chocolate polenta and red chard. He’ll have her eating bone marrow and slurping up chocolate tortellini with sheep’s milk ricotta and grilled Tuscan bread. To end, he’ll be serving her “PB &J on Acid” loaded with foams and all sorts of other magic. Note to the wise: don’t take any date with you that you’re afraid might jump ship.
Fegatini at Zuppa in Yonkers
Eat this now or forever hold your peace. Here’s how I see it. In March, you’ll be worrying that you only have a couple of months ‘til summer, so, right now, in bleakest February, it’s the time to indulge in all those lovely fats and carbs. In that vein, Zuppa Restaurant & Lounge is offering winter’s last licks with this lush crostini di fegatini. We’re talking a silky purée of carnal chicken livers contrasted with the sharp crunch of salted, grill-striped ciabatta slices. It’s just the thing to tuck into right now and for approximately 21 more days.