Tag Archives: tavern

Red Hook Tavern

Red Hook Tavern is the recently opened endeavor of famed BBQ pit master Billy Durney, of Hometown BBQ. After mastering regional BBQ, he decided to take on the iconic old school NYC tavern style joint – typically featuring dimly lit wood grain interiors, a great selection of beer, wine and cocktails, a champion burger and a beefy chop or two. Think Minetta Tavern, Chumley’s or even McSorley’s. The outside even kinda pays tribute to Minetta Tavern. Similar font, coloring and shades drawn:

So did Durney achieve that iconic goal? In short, yes. There are some BIG hits here, but there are also some misses as well. Let me get into it so you know what to get and what to avoid.

We shared four starters among four people. We ordered the corn and nduja salad with radicchio cups, the wedge salad with bacon, the chicken liver pate, and the charcuterie board.

The corn and nduja was good, but it wasn’t as spicy as I had expected. In addition, the radicchio cups added a little too much bitterness into the dish. Maybe swapping out for some Bibb would be better.

The big hit for me among the starters was the wedge salad. It comes with a nicely cooked slab of Nueske’s bacon, and a surprisingly fresh pop of dill throughout. This is definitely big enough to share, so get this and share with another.

The charcuterie board was delicious, featuring lomo (my favorite – dry cured pork loin), salami and venison salami, along with a nice fresh slaw to cut the fat. I just wish there was more of everything.

The chicken liver pate was smooth, creamy and delicious. I could have easily crushed this by myself, which is what I recommend that you do. The only issue with that was that the toast was very dry and brittle. That bread needs an upgrade.

We shared four different entrees. We did the pan roasted half chicken, the 45-day dry aged strip steak, the grilled head-on spot prawns and, of course, the burger (we did two of those).

The prawns were overcooked, unfortunately, and that delicious chili, lemon and garlic sauce didn’t really get into the flesh, rendering them kind of bland unless you really dragged them through the sauce. The heads were delicious though. They come three to an order, but the waiter Ryan was awesome and asked if we wanted four pieces so that we could all get one. That’s the kind of service people will remember. Bravo, Ryan.

The Pat LaFrieda steak was very tender, nicely cooked, and had a great crust on it.

The addition of that finishing salt was essential, because it was otherwise just kind of bland in flavor. It didn’t have much punch or character to it, and certainly not much dry-aged flavor. 7/10.

One good thing about the steak is that for $49 it also comes with creamed spinach. I really liked this spinach. Finely chopped, not too creamy.

The chicken was better than both of the above entree items. It came with mashed potatoes and gravy, which was a nice touch, for just $28. The meat was juicy and tender, and the skin was crisp and well-seasoned. Get this!

But the star of the meal was this incredible burger.

Look at how perfectly cooked it is inside:

It comes with three perfectly crisped and seasoned potato wedges, and a half-sour pickle spear.

If you’re not into onions, you can remove yours from the bottom (the burger comes out sitting on top of an onion core slice). I generally don’t love raw onion on my burger, but this onion is somewhat steamed and softened, that way you don’t get that insane vaporous bite that destroys your mouth for two days. It also catches any juices that come out of the burger, making it a perfect flavor sponge that protects the bottom bun from sogging up.

It may look simple and pedestrian, but the bun is brought in fresh from a special bakery; the patty is a great mix of lean and fatty beef cuts that sport a really nice dry-aged flavor; the cheese is perfectly melted down the sides of the burger to create a lovely drape of full coverage – you never want for that melty American goodness; and the maillard sear on the outside even has a nice crunch to it for some texture. What a masterpiece. This might be a new favorite, especially at $22. While I generally prefer fries, the wedges were definitely good. I kinda wanted a couple more though.

The prices here aren’t too bad either.

I highly recommend this place. It’s tough to get a reservation, but if you get there early (or late, for that matter) you can probably score a seat at the bar pretty quickly.

RED HOOK TAVERN
329 Van Brunt St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Tavern on the Green

I scored a limited run Groupon for Tavern on the Green that was just $89 (plus a coupon code discount on top of that) for a four course meal for two.

We started with salads. I had the iceberg wedge. While the blue cheese dressing was a little bit watery, the other components of the salad were great, especially the diced tomato and bacon.

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My wife went with the caesar salad. I’m not sure if you can see it, but it was plated with some little anchovies as well. Pretty good salad.

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She also had the sea bass with roasted leeks and mashed potatoes. The skin was crisp and the fish was cooked nicely on the whole, though I had a few bites that were slightly overcooked.

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My wife went with haricot verts for her side item. These were crisp and buttery, lots of flavor.

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I went with the sirloin steak, 12oz, dry-aged, with creamed spinach, roasted fingerlings and au poivre sauce.

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I was suprised at how tasty this shit was. I was half expecting some throw-away cut of steak with tons of gristle, but it was really nice. 8/10.

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Here’s the gravy getting poured on top:

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I mistakenly chose the roasted baby vegetables as my side. These were terrible. Bland. I should have gone with the creamy whipped potato option instead, but I thought it would be an overload of potato items since they were already in both entrees.

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The shared carrot cake for dessert was flavorful and moist, but it sort of had the texture of a fruit cake. I didn’t mind it because I love carrot cake, but my wife, who is a baker, wasn’t too impressed.

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Good deal. If it ever comes up again, grab it.

TAVERN ON THE GREEN
Central Park West & 67th Street
New York, NY 10023

Church Street Tavern

I went to Church Street Tavern with my wife and the founder of The Dishelin Guide and the DishEnvy app to finally check out their acclaimed burgers. The talk is accurate. These burgers are fantastic! We tried two: The Wellington and the CST Burger.

Let’s start with The Wellington: the patty is topped with mushroom duxelles (french for chopped mushrooms, onions and shallots sauteed with butter and herbs), foie butter and a cheesy pastry crisp that mimics the puff pastry that typically surrounds a Beef Wellington dish.

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You can see it sticking out the side here like a piss-clam tail, or a limp geoduck phallus.

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I guess those words aren’t the best to use when describing delicious food, but that’s what comes to mind. Anyway, I was expecting the burger to be wrapped in the pastry, just like traditional Beef Wellington (pictured below), but that wasn’t the case.

The burger was good. It was cooked to a nice medium rare, and the toppings were delicious. The bun held up nicely, didn’t crumble and wasn’t too stiff.

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The better burger of the pair, however, was the namesake CST (Church Street Tavern) Burger, which was topped with bacon-onion jam, aged cheddar, and arugula.

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It was seved on the same toasted brioche bun, but this burger had a much better flavor to the meat, perhaps from better seasoning and searing. Cooked to a perfect, juicy medium rare, this burger really hit the spot. I’d definitely go back for another.

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The big surprise of the evening, though, was this amazing porchetta sandwich that we saw on the menu.

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It’s a nice, tender pork sandwich with sauteed spinach and melted Swiss cheese. There were even some crispy pork bits in there for texture. The spinach had a nice hit of garlic to it without having any chunks of the breath-killer hidden inside. And the Swiss was surprisingly tasty to me. I didn’t expect to like Swiss with Italian pork, but it worked. I highly recommend this sandwich.

The fries here are equally satisfying. They’re slightly more squat and thicker than most places, but they’re cooked perfectly and generously-yet-simply seasoned with salt and herbs.

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The bar here is pretty nice too, and at happy hour you can get $4 select beers. I had a Session lager:

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CHURCH STREET TAVERN
313 Church St.
New York, NY 10013

NYC’s Oldest Joints

New York City can’t really compare with Europe when it comes to old establishments that have been slinging drinks for centuries, but it certainly can hang when it comes to restaurants.

Delmonico’s Steakhouse (94*/100) is rumored to be the world’s very first fine dining restaurant (year 1837). The restaurant, at the time, innovated many dishes that are now well known and popular, like Chicken a’ la King, and Lobster Newberg. They are also the namesake of the “Delmonico” cut of steak, which is typically a boneless rib eye.

Fraunce’s Tavern is a very old joint, dating back to 1762, which is actually now a Revolutionary War museum. It was the location of George Washington’s farewell/presidential address, and later his funeral procession, but it may have shuttered once or twice between then and now.

McSorley’s Old Ale House is NYC’s first Irish bar, and it is a place known for limited options. For example, the clientele was limited to men from 1854 until 1970 when it was forced to allow women into the bar. Their motto was “Good Ale, Raw Onions and No Ladies.” As far as beer goes, you can either have dark beer or light beer. You get two mugs that are mostly filled for the price of one beer, mostly because it is faster to pour two half-assed mugs than it is to properly pour a full mug while waiting for the head to settle. While there, you should man-up and try the liverwurst and onion sandwich. If you’re really feeling manly, spread some of that super spicy dijon mustard onto the bread, which is usually sitting at each table.

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Pete’s Tavern is the oldest continuously operating establishment in NYC. It opened in 1864 and has not closed or switched locations since. Great fun things to see in here, like the cash cage:

Old Town, which is just down the street from Pete’s, is one of NYC’s oldest and most awesome bars. It opened in 1892 and has remained relatively unchanged since. The beautiful high tin-patterened ceilings beckon you to a time when things were less technological and more raw. They also put up a pretty solid burger.

Chumley’s – may it rest in peace – was an old speakeasy buried in a Barrow Street courtyard in NYC’s Greenwich Village. While not as old as some other joints on this list (1922), it has great character. Trap doors, hidden stairways and secret hallways allowed for covert gambling and drinking during the Prohibition era. Rumor has it that the term “86” originated when unruly guests were escorted out the second Bedford Street door, which held the address “86 Bedford Street.” The place recently suffered a collapsed wall and has been closed and undergoing repairs ever since. Apparently it will stay closed, however, since neighbors living in the courtyard had been complaining about the noise emanating from the tavern for decades.

Keen’s Steakhouse (96*/100) was established in 1885 as a men only club (an off-shoot of The Lambs Club), but in 1905 a woman (Lillie Langtry) took the establishment to court and won her entry. The bar here is incredible, and the place is famous for having lots of historical memorabilia on the walls, including churchwarden pipes, and for their mutton chop.

White Horse Tavern opened in the west village in 1880 but was known more as a longshoremen’s bar than a literary center until Dylan Thomas and other writers began frequenting it in the 50’s and 60’s. It became a hub of Bohemian culture. It is one of the few major gathering-places for writers and artists from this period that remains open. It has become a popular destination among tourists these days due to that literary history.

Ear Inn was established in 1817 as a housing joint for sailors. Food, beer and whiskey was made on the premises to feed and water the sailors. The bar actually had no name. This “clubhouse” to sailors and longshoremen was simply known as “The Green Door.” Then in 1977, new resident-owners christened the place the Ear Inn. The new name was chosen to avoid the Landmark Commission’s lengthy review of any new sign. The neon BAR sign was painted to read EAR, after the musical Ear Magazine that was published upstairs.

Minetta Tavern

After coming here a few times for drinks back in the day, the place has taken on new ownership. Now there is a massive buzz about their amazing “Black Label Burger,” so I had to give it a try.

My wife and I decided to sit at the bar for our meal.

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We started with a pair of cocktails. For me, it was the Bull Shot, which was made with vodka, oxtail broth, lemon, and worcestershire sauce. It was really great, and super manly.

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My wife had a spicy bloody Mary with jalapeños, southwest spices, pickled okra, celery, and pickled green bean. It tasted very fresh.

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We ordered the Black Label Burger, which, for $28, comes with a shit load of fries. I didn’t realize, though, that it didn’t have any cheese. That sucked.

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Anyway the burger meat was perfectly cooked to medium rare (even though I ordered medium), and the sear on the outer crust was crispy and packed with crunchy meat flavor. It was topped with sautéed onions and I also put the lettuce and tomato on top as well.

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The fries are the best I’ve ever had. For real. And they give you enough to feed three people with ease. These are so perfectly seasoned and so crispy, that you may be tempted to run to the bathroom quick and jerk off thinking about how good that first fry was before going back for more.

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Speaking of jerk-sauce, they are served up with a really nice house made mayonnaise. Very nice. Contrast with the hellishly disgusting pickle they serve alongside the burger. Thank God it wasn’t already ON the burger. It was a sweet pickle, but flavored with cinnamon or some nonsense. Eww. All in all, a great meal. The Minetta Burger is served with cheese and costs over $10 less. Maybe next time I will try that. Cheese is absolutely necessary on a burger. Anyone who tells you otherwise can go fuck themselves.

SECOND VISIT

On a second visit, my wife and I had a psychotic meal with the man behind The Dishelin Guide and the Dish Envy app, which is soon to be released for public consumption. This was sort of a two-way celebration. First, it’s been four years to the day since I started this blog; and second, for our friend’s app.

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Alright enough bullshit. Let’s get down to business on this fucking incredible food we had. As an appetizer, we shared the black label burger. Our food companion had never tried it before, and I was convinced that my last experience could be better. We added cheddar cheese to it, because every burger needs cheese. It isn’t steak – it’s a burger, people! With that addition, I was correct. This was WAY better than my last burger here. Juicy, perfectly cooked, and really great with the melted cheese. You could still easily pick up all the great beef flavors going on in the grind.

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The three of us shared both the cote de boeuf and the pork shank. Take a look at this fucking delicious chunk of beef. It comes with two hulking marrow bones and a wedge of salad. Who cares about that bullshit? Not me, so I didn’t photograph the salad. Anyway they present it to you like this before they take it back to slice it up:

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Here’s the slice job. Very beautifully plated:

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The meat had a great crust all over and was still nice and pink throughout the eye of the meat. The fat cap was a bit underwhelming and gristled, but the flavor of the eye made up for that in spades. If this was a legit steakhouse review, the score would probably be a 9 for flavor. I’ve had better, but this is just a really impressive dish to pull off on a regular basis. We need to give credit where credit is due. Well done, Minetta Tavern. Delicious.

My wife took down most of the pork shank. Unfortunately the skin didn’t get crispy like we expected, but the meat was fork tender and really tasty.

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On the side we had these really nice potatoes that were described as “punched.” Basically, baked, crisped and flavored with rosemary salt and garlic while being pressed. I absolutely loved them, but I was so focused on the meat that I didn’t get a chance to really savor my portion. I just kinda wolfed it between bites of meat.

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For dessert we tried the cold nougat ice cream pie thingy. It was really nice, almost marshmallowy in texture on top, and with the flavor of a cold candy bar on the bottom. It was topped with a chocolate cherry sauce and some crushed pistachios.

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Here’s the William:

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Oh and I slammed one of these too. haven’t had one in years and it was fucking great. I will need to stock up the fridge at home now:

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MINETTA TAVERN
113 MacDougal St.
New York, NY 10012

House of Brews

This place has a huge selection of beer, including one of my favorites: a 15%ABV Goose Island Bourbon County stout that will fuck you up in no time. Tonight, however, my buddy and I sampled some stuff from this brewer, who was offering free pints to patrons that were interested in their shit (the Imperial Stout was legit):

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The main reason for our visit was burgers. Of course my puss-bag friend went with a turkey burger because he’s watching his girlish figure, but I took down the Brew Burger with American cheese and jalapeños.

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It stacked up nice: not too tall, and easy to wrap your mouth around. Kinda like Peter North, for all you ladies out there.

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It was cooked to a perfect medium, and the bun held up under strict scrutiny. No soggy bottom, and, despite the toasted under-portion of the top bun, there was no flaking or crumbling.

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Fries were pretty solid too. Nice and crispy. I’ve had better at several places, but for a $12 base burger (served WITH fries) this is a steal.

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Wednesday night happy hour has 2-for-1 Bluepoints and $5 select drafts to boot. Not too shabby.

HOUSE OF BREWS
302 W. 51st St.
New York, NY 10019

The Spotted Pig

It was PACKED when we arrived at around 1pm on a Saturday, even after all these years of being in business. Good for them! We were looking at roughly an hour wait unless we grabbed a seat at the bar. So we put our name down on the list to be seated, and headed upstairs to the second bar in hopes of scoring a seat a little faster. To our great fortune, a group of four people were getting up from the bar to be seated at their table. When I went to grab a pair of stools for my wife and I, a woman slid over one seat and was claiming the two bar stools in the middle of the four. I asked her politely if she could move over in one direction so that my wife and I could sit, but the loser wouldn’t move.

Four spots open up and she jumped into the center two, by herself, while waiting for her guest, who wasn’t even there yet? That’s just bad social etiquette. She was nasty, too, and had horrible breath. When I explained that there are four available seats and four people who want to sit, she started to argue “but we are getting lunch.” Newsflash: so are we! And she was getting aggressive and loud! So I alerted the manager. He politely asked her and her guest, “Ken,” who had lightly shoved me at one point after his date called me “scary,” to move. They wouldn’t move . The manager kindly sat us right away when they wouldn’t shift, I assume effectively jumping us ahead in the wait line. We ended up with a much better seat anyway, downstairs, with plenty of elbow room.

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My wife had one of the $14 cocktails called “Novo Mundo,” made with a Brazilian rum type booze (cachaca), egg white, sugar and lemon.

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I had a pair of Naragansett beers, which I like to call Manhattan’s new PBR, because it’s cheap, in a can and because I’ve been enjoying it way before it made it onto the Hipsters’ radar. They always seem take what I like and fuck it up. Whether it is gentleman’s caps, twisty butcher mustaches, vintage graphic t-shirts, bacon, beards or beers. Fucking animals.

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We ordered some starters. The pickles were WAY the fuck overpriced, at $6 for what is typically a free amount at a place like Keens. The deviled egg was a little pricey at $4. Both items were tasty. The pickles were bright and tart, and consisted of carrots, gherkins, radish and green beans.

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photo by my wife
photo by my wife

For the entrees, my wife ordered sisig pork. It had some bits of pig ear and other nice things, topped with a runny fried egg. Essentially this is their English “bubble and squeak” dish, but with Filipino spices and herbs like cilantro. It was good, lots of pork meat, but too salty, and a little greasy as well.

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The burger I ordered was good, perfectly cooked. The bun was great, durable and grilled. The negatives: the Roquefort cheese was a little overpowering of the burger meat, and it definitely could have used a slice of tomato and some lettuce. I’ve had this burger in the past, about 10 years ago. I think it may have cost around $16 back then. It’s $21 now, but since it comes with “fries” the cost is very fair.

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The shoestring potatoes had fried garlic slices and fried rosemary mixed throughout, and tasted and felt, crisp/texture-wise, like the old school potato sticks snacks.

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The banoffee dessert was very good – not too sweet; just right. Essentially this English dessert pie is made from bananas, cream and toffee made from boiled sweetened condensed milk.

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THE SPOTTED PIG
314 W. 11th St.
New York, NY 10014

Old Town

Old Town is one of NYC’s oldest and most awesome bars. It opened in 1892 and has remained relatively unchanged since.

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Even the urinals are old, and big (for big cocks): the kind that used to be at the Village Idiot, Ear Inn, Gallagher’s and Pastis.

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Anyway the burger here is supposed to be pretty good, as is the burger over at Pete’s down the block, so my buddy had the brilliant idea that we set out to try a few burgers in the area in one night. We ended up hitting three places, because we have massive balls swinging between our legs. Here is the Old Town burger:

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This was easily the best burger of the night. Juicy, nicely cooked, a good amount of cheese. Nice and simple. The only down side was that the fries were a bit under-seasoned, and the bun was a little hard or crumbly after toasting. Stick with the potato bun!

OLD TOWN
45 E. 18th St.
New York, NY 10003

Ear Inn

My buddy, whose opinion I value when it comes to food, swears by the burger at Ear Inn, and also the atmosphere here. Here he is, giving you all the finger in front of my beer:

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It’s an old timey bar, been around for quite some time. It’s housed in a historic building on the far west end of Spring Street in Soho, and it used to sit on the Hudson, before the landfill was added upon the building of the twin towers.

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The burger here is solid, and hats off to my friend who pointed my appetite toward this joint. The star of the show is a nice 8oz fucker served with a salad and roasted potatoes. Nice – I commented that it tasted like a good steak as I was eating it. All it needs is a potato bun and it’s a winner. Take a look at the food porn below:

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EAR INN
326 Spring St.
New York, NY 10013

TJ Finleys

TJ Finley’s is a bar in Bayshore, Long Island. It is actually my favorite bar on Long Island, by far. I’ve been coming here for quite some time now; I’m somewhat of a regular. They have a really amazing beer selection – both on tap and in bottles/cans – I’m talking hundreds to choose from, and many obscure and interesting. But not only that… This place has some of the best pub food I’ve ever had. My all-time favorite sandwich is here: a brisket sandwich with thick bacon, cheddar and BB! sauce. It’s fucking mint. The burgers are pretty amazing too, with my favorite being the breakfast burger.

A little over a year ago I joined their beer club, which essentially means you have to drink 100 different beers from various regions of the world: 50 US, 10 German, 15 Belgian, and 25 other. I currently have something like 11 left. Toward the end it gets harder to find stuff that you want to try to plug in the holes, but the great part is that I get to keep going back and eating the delicious food.

Do yourself a fucking solid and go here. Get a burger, or the beer & cheese fondue, or the smoked BBQ and ribs on Saturdays. You won’t be disappointed. They also throw some great parties for Oktoberfest and St. Pats, and they even have a pour your own beer thing going on at certain booth tables. Yup – you just pour yourself and they keep track of the ounces for you. pretty sweet.

the brisket sandwich - fucking amazing
the brisket sandwich – fucking amazing
beer selection
beer selection
beer & cheese fondue with pretzels
beer & cheese fondue with pretzels
the bar
the bar
beer selection
beer selection
breakfast burger
breakfast burger
bistro burger
bistro burger
more brisket
more brisket
burger time
burger time
ribs & sweet potato tots!!!
ribs & sweet potato tots!!!
beer club list in progress
beer club list in progress
brisket sandwich collage
brisket sandwich collage

 

UPDATE!!! On 11/28/14 I finally finished my beer club. I went out with a brisket sandwich, nachos, and a truffled french fry poutine as well. FUCK YEAH!!!

my 99th beer
my 99th beer

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this is what happens when you drink near a pen and paper
this is what happens when you drink near a pen and paper
The List
The List

TJ FINLEY’S
42 E. Main St.
Bay Shore, NY 11706