Birdsall House, Let’s Drink to Spring, and Fava Beans at X20 and Dylan Lounge

Birdsall House: Calling All Beer Geeks

Swanning in during the early days of Birdsall House in Peekskill, I’d have to conclude that its vibe was “Beer Bear.” You know who I’m talking about, those intense, post-college guys, who wear facial hair and plaid shirts and are very thoughtful about their beer. They huddle in all-guy groups, tasting and peering at beer through vintage eyeglass frames. The otherwise rarely spoken word “hoppy” is heard rather a lot.

I’ll just say it now, I love Birdsall House.

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It’s not that I have a thing for beer bears (though I did incidentally marry one). I love Birdsall House because it’s irony-free; it has the guts to respect where it is and where it comes from. This is no Keith McNally, faux-ld, retro-bar like Schiller’s Liquor Bar on the LES. In fact, Birdsall House has little self-conscious décor to mention; it’s a long, deep room with original wooden booths on one side and a wooden bar on the other. Underneath are the thick, waxed linoleum tiles that you might find in schools and hospitals, and its walls are thickly painted and mostly unadorned. One suspects, after visiting the photo gallery on its website, that Birdsall’s custom, 20-tap draft tower was the Be All and End All of this particular build out. I wouldn’t say that this joint is exactly stage-dressed.

In fact, Birsdsall’s only non-practical, vintage-y gesture comes from the original cash register sitting behind the bar, which feels less like decoration than affectionate ode to Birdsall’s venerable predecessor. Birdsall owners, John Sharp and Tim Reinke, took the space over from a 50-year-old Irish bar called Connolly’s.

Now, Birdsall House’s sister restaurant, The Blind Tiger Ale House, is a Manhattan byword for craft-brewed beer. Its beer list is wide-ranging and—last I checked—heavily Californian, with 16 out of 28 brews made in that state. In contrast, Birdsall House’s 20-tap draft beer list is a locavore’s beer-gasm, with elite brews hewing mostly from the Northeastern states. On the night of our visit, there were just three left-coasters present (and a single beer from Illinois), but the other 16 came from within a day’s drive of Peekskill. Along with an almost-as-long bottled beer selection, you’ll find a roomy bourbon and Scotch whiskey array, plus a brief and thoughtful wine list. We loved our Kelso pilsner ($5.50) and mellow Blanton’s bourbon ($10)—and I can’t wait to return with my black beer loving husband.

Though it’s too soon for a critical review, I will say that Birdsall House’s rigorous, locavorian simplicity works well for its 11-item menu (which spans starters, mains and desserts). Though Birdsall’s menu is as short as its beer list is long, it offers honest dishes that pair well with beer—which is not to slam them with insult of “bar bites.” On the night of our visit, the laser-like menu offered exactly this: a salad; a soup; a charcuterie plate; a cheese plate; entrées of pork belly, leg of lamb, burger, veggie burger, risotto, and roasted chicken. The single sweet option was a house-made carrot cake, with all prices ranging from 7$ (soup) to $17 (leg of lamb).

But details matter on such a short menu. Sure, there’s a burger—but it’s locally-raised Hemlock Hill beef served with caramelized onion, house-made ketchup, beer mustard, and malt mayonnaise ($10). And then there was that spring-like salad – which I’d gladly drive an hour for—of purple and white asparagus, Old Chatham Sheepherding Co. http://www.blacksheepcheese.com/ Ewe’s Bleu dressing, toasted walnuts, brioche croutons, and a soft-boiled egg ($9). Its asparagus lengths were tender, salty and flavorful, and its egg was an object lesson in perfection. The yolk’s chalky yellow shell held a center of soft, barely-firm gold.

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As expected in a weeks-old venture (Birdsall opened on March 12), there were the usual delays and screw-ups that mark a restaurant finding its legs. The meal’s pacing was slow, and our burger arrived undercooked, and was re-fired after being split to check for doneness, which predictably made it dry. Yet our waiter was a charmer, and the goofs were handled with aplomb.

While First Tastes are not intended to be critical—they’re more about alerting readers to what’s new on the block—I will venture that I’m already digging Birdsall House. With exciting, reasonably priced beers, and a focused menu that celebrates our land without raping our budget, I literally can’t wait to return with a few of my favorite beer geeks.

Pictured Above: Deep fried soft boiled egg with Mascarpone polenta, braised rainbow chard and spicy sofrito at Birdsall House

Let’s Drink to Spring

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Here are a few wine events to help us toast the new season:

Rochambeau Wines and Liquors Takes Up Residence at REZidENZIA
Thursday, April 15, 6pm to 8pm

The Rivertown’s newest and most eclectic shop for furniture, art and collectibles invites you to a tasting and launch of REZidENZIA‘S new jewelry collection. Jeff Woody of Rochambeau Wines will be on hand to pour some fine & unusual wines for springtime, and for the occasion all furniture will be reduced 20 percent, one night only.

The Wine Trail: A Taste of Mamaroneck
Sunday, April 25, 1 pm to 5 pm

Tickets $50. Pre-registration at Local Wine Events, or on the day of the event, at The Wine Vault, One Depot Plaza, Mamaroneck.

It’s time to raise your glass on Sunday, April 25th in the Village of Mamaroneck as the Chamber of Commerce hosts its 4th Annual Wine Trail: A Taste of Mamaroneck. Back by popular demand, this event invites patrons to climb aboard a trolley and ride along to the vast array of village eateries for a taste of wine and a sampling of food. Mamaroneck offers a variety of cuisines from around the world and for only $50; you will spend the afternoon enjoying the tastes of many cultures. Registration begins at 12:30 pm at The Wine Vault, One Depot Plaza, Mamaroneck.

Suburban Wine’s Wine & Food Expo
Saturday, April 24

This is the big one! Taste dozens of wines from around the world, sample foods from multiple restaurants, and save big on your wine purchases.

2006 California Cabernet Dinner at Peter Pratt’s Inn
Sunday, April 25

5 pm, Dinner at 6 pm
$175 per person

Pratt’s and Suburban Wines join forces for an annual “King Cab” dinner, with his year’s line-up offering the finest wines in the event’s history. Diners (and their tablemates) will be selecting the wines during the evening in an NFL like draft pick. You and your party will be assigned to a table and each table will take turns selecting one wine from the exciting list. Selection times are strictly limited, so expect game-show hilarity.

Fuh-Fuh-Fuh Fava Beans: Diver Scallop Tartar with Black Truffle & Fava Beans at X20 and Dylan Lounge

Do you remember Hannibal Lecter’s cannibalistic feast paired with a big Key-Antie? It featured these sweet, broad beans that have been enjoying a huge comeback. While April Bloomfield of Spotted Pig serves hers with mint and shaved Pecorino, Chef Peter Kelly of X20 slings his favas with black truffle and melting raw scallop. They’re available at X20 and Dylan Lounge, and call me unadventurous, but I’ll take this over whatever Lecter’s dishing up.

Newsflash: Stone Barns Center’s Craig Haney Scratches his Pigs!

It’s sooooo not part of the Stone Barns program to name their animals and treat them like pets, but here’s livestock manager Craig Hainey giving a pig a thorough, friendly scratch. I don’t know about you guys, but I just find this endearing—though I imagine it’s tough for Hainey later when he has to load that sucker up for slaughter.

 

Our Westchester Home Design Awards event is June 26!

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Our Best of Westchester Elimination Ballot is open through March 6!

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