Another in the fine line of Small Bites products: First Taste: Antoine McGuire’s in Haverstraw. SCF fans, please enjoy again.
My first thought when leaving Antoine McGuire’s a few weeks ago? When can I come back? That’s a good sign indeed. The place is gorgeous, the food is great and the service was friendly and fun.
One of my favorite dishes, the Lump Crab Meat Refrigerator Cake:
Soft, sweet crab meat with a delightful crunch of panko on top.
An Amuse Bouche, beet and fennel salad:
We shared the Old School Oysters Rockefeller ($9):
Chef Anthony told me that he researched the recipe and found that originally at Antoine’s in New Orleans, where the dish was invented, it was made with pureed herbs, including tarragon. So that’s how he’s recreating it. No spinach. It’s warm and soft and crunchy and grassy all at once.
Here’s the crab cake again:
Besides the crab, it has diced red peppers, lemon toasted panko and herbs.
They had a few oysters on the specials, so we tried some of those, too:
Very fresh and shucked nicely.
Mom does not do dairy, so we asked for the cheese in the Roast Pear Salad with Blue Cheese, Candied Walnuts, Field Greens and House Vinaigrette ($8) on the side:
Pears and nuts were sweet, dressing fit nicely. I put cheese on my bites!
We sat in the bar area at one of the high tables. Here was our view:
The walls are made from reclaimed bricks from Haverstraw’s old yards.
Just to the right of the bar, you’ll find the specials board, and some high tables at the front of the bar area, made of the same marble and wood.
We arrived about 7. At first, the atmosphere in the bar area was relaxed and quiet. But by the time we started getting our entrees, the noise was really building. I don’t know what it’s like in the dining room, but if you’re looking for a quiet night, the bar area on a weekend is not the place to be. (On the other hand, if you’re looking for a fun crowd, it definitely is the place to be.)
On the specials board, you can see the wine by the glass, the featured beers and the oysters that are available that day.
The wine list is especially good for a gastropub like this. They’re priced at $25, $35 and $45 a bottle, and include some adventurous choices like Torrontes, Sylvaner from Alacase, Nero D’Avola from Puglia and Counoise from Languedoc Roussillion. Much better than the usual: “Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio?” options.
Beer lovers will be happy, too. There are ales, lagers, stouts and porters, plus some domestic light beers, cans (PBRs!) and a few cider choices, too.
Between our apps and our entrees, Anthony sent out a fun little dish to share: Le Petit Dirty Water Dogs ($7):
So this is a good way to describe the Antoine McGuire’s schtick. It’s half Irish-half French, just like its owners. (OK, Anthony isn’t French, but he cooks classic French.) So they’re serving a New York street hot dog, but they’re putting it in a cute (and very French) lion’s head crock, and giving it a fussy French name. But other than that, it’s pure pub. You can share. you dig out your hot dog from within the sauerkraut and top it with the ketchup, mustard or relish. Lots of fun.
Another good example. Fish and Pomme Frites ($15):
Sure, it’s fish and chips. But it’s got a funny French name and a little sprig of dill on it. The fish was flaky and good and the batter was crispy. We really enjoyed it.
We also got poulet grand mere —
— and the Double Cut French Style Pork Chop with Wild Mushrooms and White Truffle Sauce ($18):
My only (minor) complaint was that these two dishes came with exactly the same sides. But you know what? This isn’t haute cuisine, it’s a pub. So you should go in with that attitude. You’re getting excellent food in a beautiful but casual setting. You can choose among a cold beer and some clams or a chilled white wine and some oysters. You can get a salad and burger, or Oysters Rockefeller and a double cut pork chop. French bistro? Irish pub? It doesn’t really matter. It is the best of both worlds.