A new “Vintage” in white plains
A sports bar and singles spot with surprisingly good food.
I wandered into Vintage on Main Street in White Plains, thinking I had stumbled across a new wine bar. But a single step inside the doors cleared up any misconception: a half dozen TVs broadcasting ballgames, a bar with 15 beers on tap, a raucous, off-tune Irish band and a crowd that looked like a casting call for new episodes of “Joe Millionaire” let me know that this was, in fact, a sports bar and the city’s newest singles hangout.
But I am too polite to leave without ordering a drink, and as the bartender poured me a foaming glass of Irish beer, he pushed the menu across the brass-topped bar. It looked interesting, adventurous and reasonably priced with steaks and shrimp dishes for $21 or so—so why not eat in the cavernous, otherwise empty dining room?
From a sports bar, you don’t expect much more than chili, burgers and Buffalo wings, but Vintage provided a surprise. The food on several occasions was of the quality you’d expect from a “serious” restaurant, not one that specializes in blondes, redheads and TV shots of Tiger Woods.
On one occasion I had gazpacho, with just the right vinegar to give it bite, topped with a grilled shrimp and sour cream. I confess that when eating spicy food, I like it so hot it clears the sinuses, and my Thai shrimp with peanuts was spicy enough to give real taste, but not so hot as to require emergency rations of water.
On the same occasion, my dinner companion had the crab and lobster cake as an appetizer. We thought there would be one crab cake, one lobster, but instead, the meat from the two crustaceans had been blended together for an interesting and delicious (if just a tad too dry) paste, followed by roasted duck with a classic orange sauce and a mÃ©lange of vegetables. Because of miscommunication, the duck came out overcooked, but it was our fault, not the kitchen’s, and worth trying again.
On another evening, we sampled the New Zealand rack of lamb and a New York cut steak, both as good as you would get in a restaurant that bills itself as a steakhouse; that may be explained by the fact that the owner, Declan Farrell, trained as a butcher in Ireland. It also explains why English is a second language among the wait staff; almost every bartender and waitress speaks with a brogue as thick as Irish wool. For dessert, indulge in the chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream and raspberry purÃ©e or the fried banana streudel.
The big disappointment, though—especially for a restaurant named “Vintage”— was the forgettable wine list. (The name, by the way, does not come from oenological pretenses, but from old photos of White Plains on the wall). Even though it doesn’t have a bottle priced for more than $45, there’s not a bottle worth drinking at any price. So on all of our visits, we washed down our dinners with Irish stout and lager—and I’m happy to report Vintage must have the freshest Irish beer in town.
The shame is, with this surprisingly first class food and painless dinner check—it would be hard to spend more than $50 a head here—the dining room at Vintage had more waitresses than diners. So go to Vintage, enjoy the food, don’t even bother to look at the wine list, drink the beer, and enjoy the view of the handsome singles crowd on the way out.
VINTAGE BAR & RESTAURANT
171 Main St., White Plains
Lunch, Mon. to Sat., 11 am-4 pm
inner, Mon. to Sat. 4-10 pm