Restaurant Review: The Peekskill Brewery

Chicken-liver parfait with onion jam, red wine gelée, and hazelnutsPeekskill Brewery                       ★★
47-53 S Water St, Peekskill 
(914) 734-2337; peekskillbrewery.com

Hours: Tap Room: Mon-Thurs, 3 pm-midnight;
            Fri, 3 pm-1 am; Sat, noon-1 am; Sun, noon-midnight
Pub: lunch, Mon-Sat, noon-5 pm; brunch, Sun, 11 am-4 pm; 
        dinner, Mon-Thurs, 5 pm-10 pm; Fri-Sat, 5 pm-11 pm;
        Sun, 4 pm-9 pm
Appetizers: $5-$13; entrées: $13-$16 (Tap Room), 
                   $13-$26 (Pub); dessert: $8 (Pub) 

   ★★★★—Excellent      ★★★—Good  
   â˜…★—Average             ★—Poor

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Okay, so let’s all try to get together and accept the fact that there was a bad brewpub fad in the ’90s when it seemed that every Podunk town had a bar that brewed beer. It soon became obvious that the beers at the average brewpub were amateurish (and their standard pub fare was nothing to write home about, either). Like dinner theater or singing waiters, it seemed that those ’90s-era brewery + restaurants took on two disparate tasks and managed to excel at neither one.

Cue the magical Sam Calagione of the fabled Dogfish Head Brewery, who, in 2011, teamed up with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, as well as other brewers, for Eataly’s Birreria. Finally, the restaurant world would see a top-tier brewing team paired with equally elite restaurateurs. The fans went wild; at Birreria, the cask-conditioned ales (hand-pumped from wooden barrels) were a beautiful complement to Birreria’s rustic, house-made salumi; imported cheeses; and excellent grilled sausages, meats, and fish. Birreria’s Manhattan rooftop biergarten doesn’t hurt the enterprise, either.

Taking a page from Eataly’s Birreria, Peekskill Brewery made some big moves in 2012—not the least of which was decamping from its tight 55 Hudson Avenue digs. PB now occupies the glorious, four-story former furniture warehouse at 47-53 South Water Street. Not only does the new space afford room for more beer production, it also offers room for growth. Look for the Tap Room on the first floor and the slightly more formal Pub on the second floor. The owners have toyed with the idea of a future third floor public-arts space, a fourth-floor banquet hall, and, like Birreria, a rooftop biergarten with views of the Hudson River. But the biggest move occurred just before PB relocated. In the fall of 2011, PB’s owners, Morgan and Keith Berardi, lured Jeff O’Neil, Ithaca Brewing Co.’s star brewer, to take over their tanks. Since then, Peekskill Brewery has gone from a small-town brewpub to a serious brewery with beers on tap across Westchester and in New York City.

 

Fish and chips, PB-styleBut what about the restaurant? Perhaps the comparison to Birreria is unfair; Chef Sean Corcoran’s menu—by demographic necessity—must cast a wider net than Manhattan’s Birreria (which benefits from population density). In PB’s starters, you’ll find perfunctory pub grub like blah deviled eggs and chicken wings joining several better, more carefully crafted dishes. These include elegant miniature jars of chicken-liver parfait served with onion jam. Also good, fat slices of brawny pork terrine with bacon, pistachios, and whole-grain mustard (we also loved the oniony house-made pickles—the crunchy cauliflower is wonderful). Though skinny and rather blonde, our two soft pretzels with caraway béchamel were snapped up quickly. 

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At PB, the beer is a main draw, so it’s wise to nominate a designated driver. O’Neil is known for his sour beers, a style intentionally infected with specific strains of yeast that produce a mineral tartness that pairs well with rich foods. Peekskill’s Simple Sour and Amazeballs are good choices for the start of a meal, though we could have wished for more guidance here. One of my guests ordered an impenetrably black Common Ground (cold-steeped with ground coffee beans) that was delicious in its way, but was too titanic for the beginning of a meal—this is a dessert brew. Also look for a short wine list, an on-trend spirits list, and great cocktails. Of these, we loved the Pickleback—C.R.E.A.M. Ale, house-made pickle juice, and The Irishman whiskey.

The first floor of Peekskill Brewery’s new digs, located in a former furniture factory, houses a welcoming tavernOn each visit, we couldn’t help but think that PB’s kitchen focuses on its starters and snacks at the expense of its mains. A striving main of pan-seared duck breast with farro, coriander, roasted carrot, duck confit, and mostarda was disappointingly spun toward the gloopy and sweet end of the spectrum. Worse, we encountered a dish of rubbery, overcooked mussels in which a solid third remained unopened. Fish and chips, part of the more standard pub fare, was marred by sodden and floppy fries, though its milky fish was delicious beyond a shattering beer-batter crust. 

While the second-floor dining room is spare and modern (and offers glimpses into an open kitchen, and, if you’re lucky, sunset river views), a middle section open to the first-floor bar carries loud chatter and the blue glow of TVs into the room. If noise is a concern, request a table located away from the central, open space.

After mains, shareable plates of locally made cheese from Murray’s make an excellent segue while, inevitably, you’re still nursing a beer. To end, homey cookies with a shot of spiced milk are the perfect sendoff. After this (and all those beers), you’ll sleep like a baby. 

To pair the perfect entree with the perfect Peekskill Brewery beer, check out Westchester Mag’s definitive PB taste test.

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