Winding north on Route 9 past Tarrytown, Ossining, and Croton, Peekskill is Westchester’s northern most city. After several years of despair in the ’90s and early ’00s, Peekskill is a town on the rise with a unique arts scene, growing music venues, and of course, awesome food.
The crown jewel of this town is a standalone red building that is just off the main drag. Birdsall House was opened in 2010 by Tim Reinke and John Sharp as a gastropub with a top-craft beer lineup. While competition has popped up in the years since 2010, Birdsall continues to set the standard in Peekskill.
An incredible seasonal menu is on constant rotation with classics like the Birdsall Reuben, smoky chicken wings, and the smoked brisket nachos. Those regulars are joined by specials like braised short ribs, cast-iron New York strip, and roasted cod. With a loaded menu however, the burger is the real star.
Birdsall’s burgers ($18) are a half-pound house-ground and seasoned brisket blend, served with a half-sour pickle and mixed greens on a brioche bun with fries. There are four topping choices offered, with the two most recent being the Carolina barbecue, featuring bacon jam and buttermilk-fried leek rings, and the Umami, with house-made kimchi butter, portobello mushrooms, and cilantro aioli.
Birdsall’s burgers, in all their half-pound, briskety glory, stand out even without toppings
Toppings aside, the burger itself is what stands out. The delicious blend of ‘Sterling Silver’ brisket and house-ground beef is “as good, if not better than, Angus beef,” according to Executive Chef Krista Espinal. The blend is ground in-house and seasoned with paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and ancho chili powder. “It has an earthy and sweet flavor which really makes the burgers unique.” Brioche buns from Eli Zabar in New York City hold all that meat together.
The burger is super juicy but definitely controllable—it won’t fall apart like many other burgers of this size. The freshness is evident in every single bite and you’re bound to come back to taste each of the topping styles after trying it plain.
Finally, there’s the ketchup. While most restaurants serve commercial, bottled ketchup, Birdsall makes their own. A blend of tomatoes, onions, vinegar, and spices helps to bring this recipe to life. The real secret is the brown sugar and molasses. It turns it into a hybrid between smoky barbecue sauce and sweet ketchup. Chef Espinal is proud to not serve Heinz in the restaurant.
This burger is a treat and completely worth a trip up north. It’s juicy, delicious, and loaded with huge flavor. It will pair perfectly with one of their beers on tap, or a cup of their famous smoked brisket chili. Grab some friends and head to Birdsall House’s outdoor beer garden for one of the top county burger experiences.