A dozen or more great beers on tap, ranging from Belgian whites to local crafts or rare foreign delights, home made Granny’s Apple Pie vodka and rum punch, and a blackboard spread of daily specialties with a Southern flair, this is not your average gastro-pub. Smack on the corner of 2nd and 30th, between Kip’s Bay and Murray Hill, this neighborhood gem of a saloon was a random find when Firecracker and I met up with my stepsister, Mitch Bitch. MB was in town for a conference and as a blonde out-of-towner, she is doubly handicapped when attempting to use the subway, so we had to find someplace close.
The Waterfront Ale House seemed a likely candidate for a bite and a beer, and despite a harried waitress having trouble seating us at first, it was a fine time on a Friday night. The blackboard listed their weekly beer selections and daily meal specials, which all sounded quite tempting. For meals we had a crabmeat, spinach, cheese and crawfish dip with toasted baguette, a fried oyster po’boy with wasabi mayo, and a grilled veggie sandwich with fresh mozzarella on focaccia, with sweet potato fries. The decor is old woods and snug tables, with dozens of sauce bottles rimming the walls, including HP Fruity, which would go perfectly on one of their signature wild game burgers.
The food was excellent- the crab dip was warm and cheesy, a bit salty but thick and chunky with white lump crab, served in a crock so you could scoop out every bit. The oyster po’boy rivaled some I had in Louisiana- the oysters were succulent and just cooked through, dusted with cornmeal for a crispy bite and a juicy center. The baguette was just chewy enough with good crust, and there was just the right amount of tang in the mayo. It came with house-made mustard cole slaw that was light and unique, with big chunks of crisp cabbage. MB’s veggie sandwich was quite good, cooked in olive oil and still fresh-tasting- portobello, eggplant, squash with a nice melted slice of fresh mozz and good focaccia bread that wasn’t too greasy. The sweet potato fries were excellent, some of the best I’ve tasted- full of flavor, just crisp enough, with no soggy ones to be found. The sweet potato flavor really came through, you could tell they were fresh made.
The menu board had many other temptations- wild game is a specialty, and a buffalo burger with house-made ketchup was the night’s burger; they also had venison chili, and venison sausage, pork chops in a blueberry bourbon sauce, and others. Their regular menu leans more toward standard bar fare with a tilt at wild game, bratwurst and barbecue. The beer selection is one of the best I’ve had at a restaurant, including the infamous Spotted Pig, which has a more daring, hedonistic menu and casked ales. I sampled 5 or 7:
Flying Dog Doggie Style pale ale, the beer of the week, was a hoppy IPA with good flavor, amber color and malty notes. Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen was on tap and is always a classic, but my faves were the Palm Amber and Brooklyn Helles Keller. The Palm is a fine dark Belgian, a hoppier brown. The H-K is a real find, but it seems that Brooklyn Brewery made it special and won’t be making it again. It’s worth a visit to this alehouse to try, if you like their beers. It’s like a punched-up pilsner, reminiscent of the superior Keller Pilsner that High Point Brewery also made as a one-shot. Let’s hope this style garners popularity and both breweries add these to their rosters permanently. Other Belgians I had were the Gruut Amber and an excellent white that was similar to Delirium Tremens.
The gals had vodka-cranberry and Stoli Blackberry as usual, but did try shots of the house-flavored Granny’s Apple Pie vodka, which was a bit strong but very tasty for a straight vodka shot. It reminded me of homemade cherry vodka I’ve had a the Metropole Russian restaurant in Minneapolis. They steep apple slices and spices in it, imparting a golden color and lots of flavor. The homemade Caribbean Rum Punch was fantastic and potent, too. Lots of fruit juices and a hell of a kick. Our bartender was Milan, a friendly guy who we closed the joint with. He was drinking anejo with a chaser, and we talked for a long while. It’s a place we’ll definitely visit again. 3 meals and drinks all night was about $55 each, and we drank a lot.
So much that on the way home we accosted two gals visiting from Australia, and chatted them up for who knows how long.