I like fancy-pants dining as much as anyone, but my favorite eateries are pubs and bistros. So when I heard last April that a wacky hybrid French bistro/Irish pub called Antoine McGuire’s had opened in Haverstraw I intended to make the 60-something-mile pilgrimage to check it out. Sad to say, I spend so much time chained to the computer that here it is, three months later, and I haven’t been yet. But a friend with a more leisurely life (as in: not a freelance writer) tells me it’s really good, and definitely worth a visit.
Anthony Accomando, the cheery young chef who owns the place with his friend Peter McGuire, says the idea was to produce pub food honoring McGuire’s Irish roots with French twists that reflect Accomando’s French Culinary Institute training. That means a menu with delicious sounding offerings like beer-battered Brie, filet mignon with Irish whisky cream, and corned beef gratin in a bechamel sauce topped with Gruyere. “We have lamb on the menu as shepherds pie,” Accomando says. “It’s a French lamb stew, braised with wine, and then we stage it in a dish lined with puff pastry and topped with mashed potatoes. It’s a perfect example of how we married classic French cooking and Irish pub food.” Hurry over, if you want to try that one. He’s thinking of trading it for another lamb dish for the fall menu. “Maybe lamb baby-back ribs with a homemade Belgian ale barbeque sauce. The lamb is finished on the grill,” he allows, when pressed for the recipe. “But the rest of it’s a secret.”
Owners Anthony Accomando and Peter McGuire
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There’s a raw bar, and pub staples like a hangar steak sandwich and a burger, although the latter comes dressed up with Gruyere, caramelized shallots, and country-style bacon. “A summer idea was a deconstructed lobster roll as a special,” Accomando says, describing it with such enthusiasm that I realize I’m licking my lips as I type. “We line a mold with toasted challah bread, then add a layer of lobster meat poached in butter, and top it with micro greens and a drizzle of Old Bay mayo. It comes out kind of warm and gooey. People expect a lobster roll to be chilled, so they say, ‘wow.’”
Prices are good, with the most expensive entree a mere $22. The wine list comes sorted by price ($25, $35 and $45), while the beer list — about 40 strong — is presented in wine-list style, divided into imported and domestic brews by type: ales, stouts, pilsners, porters and so on, some of which are from Keegan and other local breweries.
So far, Accomando says, the response has been “phenomenal,” especially the simple late-night menu, served from 10 p.m. to midnight. “It’s things like duck leg confit — the kind of things you’d find if you were stumbling home drunk from a bar in France.” And has he had much experience stumbling about drunk in France? “I was just there for two weeks once, but it made a lasting impression,” he replies.
The late-night menu has proven particularly popular with off-duty restaurant-biz people, including chefs. “It’s flattering but nerve-wracking,” Accomando says of this development. “Chefs from X20 and Xaviars have been in, and Peter Kelly himself has even popped in.”
Set in the old Mardoff’s Bakery building, the bistro-pub is divided about evenly into a bar and a dining area with red banquettes and a black and white tiled floor. Here’s where you’ll find Peter McGuire, meeting and greeting, when he’s not on duty as a fireman.
If you’re in the neighborhood, do check it out and report back to me. I have to live vicariously until I get all these deadlines out of my hair!
Antoine McGuire’s is open daily for dinner; lunch on weekends. Visit www.antoinemcguire.com for more info.