Harry Potter, the royals, the Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin … all bits of British culture that Americans love. British food, not so much, but David DiBari (The Cookery, The Parlor) is hoping to change that with the opening of his Dobbs Ferry gastropub, The Rare Bit. “I was enamored of the food and curious about the culture,” says DiBari, who traveled to London with co-owner Scott Broccoli. “Most British food gets bastardized as soon as it hits the pub scene. We wanted to do something that was different and outside the box.”
Along with Chef Director John Poiarkoff (previously executive chef at now-closed Restaurant North), the team took oft-maligned pub-grub classics and gave them a new spin. There’s ethereally crisp fish and thrice-fried chips; lamb tartare dressed with anchovy-condiment Gentleman’s Relish on bubble-and-squeak hash browns; Welsh rarebit with aerated Guinness-cheese sauce; and an addictive escarole salad with shreds of white cheddar, toasted oats, and piccalilli (curry-pickled cauliflower) dressing.
English classics, like jammy-yolk Scotch eggs with house-made pork sausage, beef-mushroom-and-stout pie with traditional suet crust, and bloody Sunday roast with puffy, custardy-center Yorkshire puddings, are done with reverence — and a splash of modern technique. “We wanted to bring in the Sunday roast,” explains DiBari. “We’re family dudes. It’s a family town, and that just screams family.”
And it’s not just the food that’s getting an upgrade. The bar, with a selection of beers, affordable wines, eight cocktails on draft, and a serious gin program, is way cooler than your average pub. “We’ve all traveled to England. I’ve been to Ireland and Scotland, as well. What I noticed on recent trips is there’s a craft-gin revolution over there,” says Poiarkoff. “We wanted to make that a focus of the cocktail program.” Each of the 13 types, served with tonic, is paired with an individual garnish to accentuate its aromatic profile.
Full commitment to the pub concept also dictated an overhaul in décor. The result is a whimsical hodgepodge of greenery, mirrors, tiles, wood, bumblebee wallpaper, and chandeliers (“I was in a chandelier mood,” DiBari quips of the build-out. “I needed them all over the place.”)
As is the case at The Cookery and The Parlor, expect to see a three-percent kitchen-share surcharge on the bill to benefit back-of-house workers who are legally prohibited from tip sharing. “We could raise prices, and you don’t know that it’s not just lining our pockets,” says Broccoli. “We’re telling you this is for the guys and girls who are doing the hardest jobs in the restaurant.”
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