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Just had a terrible experience at Birdsall House in Peekskill -- wondering if others have had better experiences?

I have to say that after my experience tonight at the Birdsall House, I'm not going back either. (and I really wanted to like this place, too). While the food was actually very good, the service and the management need to take some lessons on professionalism in the restaurant business. I brought four friends to this place, because I read about their recent opening, and the menu sounded inventive and yummy, and the prices weren't bad either.

Three of my party ordered the Hemlock Hill Burger, and when the server asked if they wanted fries with that, one said, no, what other sides do you offer == she mentioned the salad, and a polenta dish (possibly others, but am not sure). One took the salad the other the polenta. Others ordered the Risotto and the bbq pork belly w/pancakes & maple syrup (yum!).

We ate our dinner and enjoyed it all -- very tasty food. We asked for the bill, and when it arrived, we found that were charged extra for the "sides." So we asked the server to explain -- and she just said she'd get the manager. Well the manager heard our complaint and rather than say oh there's been a misunderstanding, the server should have indicated that the sides were extra, he just said, well, they were on the menu as extra... but then he turned and said in a very huffy manner -- "you want these taken off the bill, I"ll do it." Then he came back and yelled, "here's the bill, with the sides removed, please pay it now, and don't ever come back." He *slammed* the mini clipboard with the bill onto the table and strode away. O. M. G. We were dumbfounded. We did nothing to deserve to be yelled at (and especially at a NEW restaurant who is trying to build up its clientele!) He did come back and apologize, but the damage was done. I went there because I heard about the place and the yummy food and wanted to bring my dining club there -- so I checked it out first.. Good thing I did.. as I would never go there again and would never risk bringing my group to experience what had happened there.

SO.. my recommendation: go there if you want some great food, but beware of nasty (!) management and service that is taking this as a lark, not a real job...

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  1. Wow, I can't believe that! I was actually choosing between Birdsall for dinner last night, having read a few great reviews on Yelp, and The Cookery, but we ended up at The Cookery. Definitely glad we chose The Cookery, and less enthused to try Birdsall now... hopefully that was an anomaly, but it stinks that it ruined your meal.

    1. This is interesting that you bring up this topic about sides being extra. I had noticed that when I checked their menu, and if you look at their website you'll see that fries are included at lunch (it used to just list the sides and say you got your choice of one but now I see it includes a side in the description of each item). For dinner, it does clearly say that the sides are $4 each and they are not included with the item description (note the burger costs the same at lunch and dinner). I don't like that, and I actually avoided going there for dinner one night because of it (I have been meaning to get there for lunch but I haven't been able to find time yet).

      Anyway, Liz Johnson posted about her meal there and mentioned that she ordered the fries (which she said were not very good, BTW). I asked her whether she had gone for dinner and whether they were extra. She said yes they were extra, but then defended them saying that she and her dining companion had commented how reasonable the bill was.

      Obviously how you were treated after the fact was totally inappropriate. I wonder if you're not the first who has complained about the unexpected $4 charge for fries or other sides.

      1. It does sound like you had a very bad experience at Birdsall; I don't blame you for not wanting to go back. But I have to add that I had a very good lunch at Birdsall a few weeks ago. At lunchtime, fries are included with the burger (which was really excellent, juicy, charred on the outside and pink on the inside, great beefy flavor). The fries were excellent, too -- perfectly cooked, salty. My friend and I both polished off all our fries, they were that good. My interactions with staff were quite pleasant, and our waitress was great. I hope what happened was a horrible anomaly and I'd encourage others to give the place a try.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kat_in_Ossining

          I have to say that the food *was* really really good..LOVED the pork belly w/pancakes and maple syrup -- very inventive mixture of flavors. It was the way we were treated (or mistreated) by the manager after our meal that turned me off to the place. I mean, the WHOLE RESTAURANT heard him screaming at us. (the place is not that large). I"ve never been treated like that before, and I won't stand to have that happen again. They just lost my business and the busines of my over 600 member dining club. (and that's not very smart, eh?)

        2. Went today for lunch. The menu was a little strange- no salad entrees. We ordered burgers, and they were very slow coming out ( 25 min), and came out overcooked, and the fries were lukewarm. They probably would have been good warm. The meat was sort of dry and salty also. There was some type of seasoning on it that must have had salt in it. Don't think I will be back

          1 Reply
          1. re: rkaene

            I was going to ask if the fries were included at lunch, since they were not listed on a lunch menu I checked a few days ago, but I just checked now and they seem to be back.

            On the topic of lunch salad entrees, I thought they've had one in the past. But that illustrates another problem I have with then -- other than the burgers (plain and veggie), nothing seems to be guaranteed to be on the menu from one day to the next. It would be nice to know that there is something you know will be on the menu when you get there that will really appeal to you. They've had a blackened chicken sandwich that sounds really good, but I haven't seen that on the menu recently.

          2. Interesting phenom on sides now being extra, outside of steak houses that is.

            I was all set to make a reservation at a restaurant (Rowayton Seafood) for an upcoming event and apparently a po-ta-to is extra!

            It seems it is now imperative to check a restaurant's menu in advance, to find out if they can't afford to throw in a starch, along with the salad that they can't afford to throw in. How sad.

            Thanks for the horrific report on Birdsall!

            2 Replies
            1. re: anonymouse1935

              Geez, what could a potato cost that they can't throw it in with a meal??? Unless this is some crazy way of helping keep portion sizes down (for lighter priced meals and thinner waistlines?)

              1. re: Nancy C

                It's obviously a way to get you to spend $14 for your burger at dinner while still being able to list it on the menu for $10.

            2. Finally got to Birdsall last night for the first time. The space is really nice, very attractive and well designed. It was quite crowded but the vibe was great. The beer selection is impressive (when I couldn't decide between three options, our waitress offered to bring me samples of each. She did, and I finally picked one.) Our food was mostly delicious. The beet salad and the chicken liver pate were both excellent and very well done. The Hemlock Hill Burger was about as good as a burger gets. The lamb was okay, but I didn't feel like the dish worked. We were too full for deserts. As far as the great sides debate, they are clearly marked on the menu as being $4 each--and who really cares. We skipped fries with the burger, but if you really need fries with your burger, $14 seems reasonable for a well prepared, local, organic, beef burger with yummy onions and condiments.

              All in all, I loved Birdsall House. It is exactly the kind of place the area needs and is a great addition to Peekskill. I probably won't go often since it didn't feel that kid-appropriate (it was a rare date night), but I will when I can. I certainly hope that the petty griping and sniping on this site doesn't keep anyone from trying the place!

              1. BTW, I noticed on their website a few weeks ago that they had "Where the Hell is Peekskill" on their homepage, along with a link to directions (including from Manhattan). I guess maybe their NYC customers would find it amusing but as a local I found it insulting. I emailed them and they did not respond, but it was quickly changed to "Where is Peekskill".

                5 Replies
                1. re: MisterBill2

                  Just got the new issue of Westchester Magazine today and they commented on the inappropriate comment on their site (which unfortunately for them was obviously still up when the review was being written). The review itself is kind of mixed:


                  1. re: MisterBill2

                    The reviewer doesn't seem at all bothered by the "Where the Hell is Peekskill" comment--he uses it to illustrate the point that many wonder about the owners' "mysterious" move to open a place in Peekskill given their success in Manhattan. Personally, I wasn't at all offended by the comment either--the guys just sunk a huge hunk of cash and energy into a business in town, so any making fun of the place is obviously self-deprecating.

                    As to the review, yes very mixed indeed. I agree that the beet salad was "absolutely flawless." My burger was excellent and served rare (as ordered)--but the reviewer obviously had a bad burger (twice). When we went, 3 of our 4 dishes were quite good--and one wasn't. So I'm not shocked to hear that there are other hits and misses on the menu.

                    1. re: dma1250

                      My problem with the "where the hell" comment is that for a local person who doesn't know their history and is looking for information about the place, it looks like some NYC folks who have the same opinion of Peekskill as the SNL writers do. Let them save stuff like that for pages pointed to from their NYC websites.

                      At least they don't refer to it as "upstate".

                      1. re: MisterBill2

                        Plenty of people who live in Westchester either don't know where Peekskill is, or don't want to believe it's a place where people would go for food. Witness the thread here recently about where to eat before going to the Paramount.

                        Birdsall House is a terrific addition to our area restaurants, and my family has quickly made it a destination of choice. I can say from experience, though, that the food quality is much better at dinner than lunch.

                        1. re: Elisa515

                          Peekskill? Really? If they haven't gotten to Zeph's, they're missing out. I can't believe those interested in outstanding food wouldn't go to the ends of Westchester and even, gasp, Rockland and beyond to find great food, witness Crave in, gasp, POK.

                          As much of a wasteland as Westchester is for great restaurants, one has to be willing to travel. Zeph's is worth the trip, as is Crave and Restaurant X.

                          I can't say I believe the hype on Birdsall nor have a warm cozy feeling on it (dinner vs lunch, why is that?), but no matter. Zeph's is good enough for now, and heck, I may even venture to wherever it is in the woods that The Cookery is!

                2. Sounds like you experienced new-business jitters because I was just there and the manager could not have been nicer or more accomodating. Food was delish. And as for the other comments here slamming "where the hell is Peekskill?," I have lived in Somers for decades and many people still don't know where it is. You guys are awfully provincial - nothing wrong with some harmless irony. You should be glad that Peekskill may finally experience the renaissance I've been hearing about since the 80s!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: LivingInSomers

                    Some guy from Manhattan opens a new restaurant and that's the renaissance? What about all of the artists who have been there for the past several years?

                    1. re: MisterBill2

                      99% of nyc operators that come to westchester fail. they are used to putting out a higher ticket item. in new york people exspect to get robbed , west rest are mostly destination spots . they dont have thousands of people passing by everyday. In 2 years they will sell it and it will be another burger joint because ppl from nyc will not come and eventually niether will the ppl. from Somers.Oh and where the hell is Peekskill?

                  2. Birdsall just got a very good review in the New York Times. It got a "Worth It" rating (the second best) and the review is very, very positive.


                    Also, while one of the owners is from NYC, the other is a Peekskill native.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: dma1250

                      very nice review! I'll have to check it out.
                      Maybe this restaurant deserves a thread with a more positive title!

                      1. re: DGresh

                        Thanks for the nudge; I've been meaning to start such a thread for awhile.


                    2. I had a good experience at Birdsall last Saturday night.

                      The food was excellent and the beer selection great.

                      If the sides are listed on the menu as extras you need to pay for them


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: TBones

                        I've been going to the Birdsall House since it opened. The beer menu is interesting and changing. the food is excellent. A great addition for any town.

                        1. re: bernie77


                          I started a thread with a positive title about Birdsall--any chance you can report on your experiences (with specificity--you know how much Chowhounders like that!) on that thread? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/721598

                      2. We go to Birdsall with some regularity. While I would not say that every single time has been excellent, it has always been very good. The food is always fresh, we love the beer menu and with one exception the service has also always been good. Went for lunch last weekend and had a very yummy grilled cheese and chili.

                        p.s. I am a Peekskill resident and have to say, not the least bit offended by the "WTH is Peekskill?"

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: A.Peekskill

                          Any chance you can make a more thorough write up of what you like there...and put it in the thread with a positive header about Birdsall?


                          Were there any new seasonal items on the menu? I have been working too many evenings lately and haven't had a chance to stop by in at least a month.

                        2. We just had excellent food and fine service tonight so they must have improved. We will return. The Hamburger was exactly as ordered and generous and real not frozen fries were excellent and included. The beet and goat cheese salad was creative and my husband had bratwurst with homemade potato salad. the chef is from the C.I.A. and all is plated appetizingly. The only downside was the noise on a Saturday night at 8PM. We were told that it is quiet before 7:15. This is a welcome addition to the limitd choices in the Peekskill area.

                          Birdsall House
                          970 Main St, Peekskill, NY 10566

                          1. SHOCKING!!!!!! Have been there severl times and as recently as this past Sunday we had a great brunch.

                            1. We went recently on a Sunday night . Not only did we we have a great dinner, but were lucky enough to be there for a "Saision", which I am told is a session in Gaelic, as in jam-session. Various Irish musicians and a singer wondered in one by one (although clearly they knew each other from before) and before you knew it they were putting on quite an impromtu musical event. What a wonderful place - and the beers on tap are great, too. I am now torn between this place and the Peekskill Brewery.

                              BTW, last summer, after finishing shopping at the Farmers Market, I stopped in for a beer. To my surprise, there were over two dozen young people sitting in the booths along the far wall. I soon found out they were all from the CIA school on a field trip to meet the restaurant's chef. Neat...

                              Peekskill Brewery
                              55 Hudson Avenue, Peekskill, NY 10566

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: taursus41

                                Went for a weekday lunch. Food was very good, service however is in desperate need of help. Lunch took almost 45 minutes to come out of the kitchen, salads and sandwiches. The place was not very busy. Food came after we asked ( 45 mins). Waitress left the check and disapeared. Went and found her, she was filling milk speaking with another worker. Gave her the check, she put it down and continued filling the milk. Had to almost beg to give them our credit card. Too bad, because the food was very good. Grilled cheese amazing! Too bad the service is not on the same level as the food.