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First Impressions of Growlers Bistro in Tuckahoe

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Have been hearing a lot of buzz about this place and read it was rated one of the top spots in Westchester recently in Westchester Magazine. I then read a pretty good review in the NY Times and was intrigued. I had heard great things about their beer selections, but very mixed reviews about the food. Many of the complaints were about portions and price, but there were some who didn't get a couple of the items (such as a burger which is essentially meat loaf). Never agreeing with the crowd, I had to try it myself and met some friends Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately when I got the call I had just finished lunch, so I knew food wasn't going to happen. The place is very industrial looking and is not for those looking for a warm vibe. In fact, it is a very cold vibe. We sat at the bar and the bartenders were very nice. During the course of the day I had an Alagash White, Ithaca Storm Front and Young's Double Chocolate Stout. All three were excellent and I look forward to trying some othhers. Towards the end of the night, one of my friends ordered two orders of ribs. There were five to a plate and they came with a homemade slaw and a tiny maple butter cornbread. The ribs, were absolutely delicious and as the chef/owner explained, they are smoked on the premises. I did not actually try the slaw, but the cornbread was very moist and tasty. My only complaint would be the lack of meat on the ribs, but the flavor was excellent, so I don't really want to nitpick. A group next to us, had an assortment of bruschetta that looked fantastic. The place was not overly crowded, but one could see it being very noisy when filled. Every person was incredibly friendly and definitely made me want to go back. I'll definitely have to try some more of the food to really get a true feel for the place, but the first impression was a good one.

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  1. I live nearby and have been several times. But not as much as I would like because of the price. The beer selection is very good, but the prices are even higher than NYC. I tried several of the food items, and wasn't impressed, and they were way overpriced for what you got. The first few months their service was horrible, but the seem to have worked that out and the last time I was there, New Years Eve for the day and early evening, it was great. I keep them as a backup for when I need a really good beer, but don't want to go to the city. The prices are what turn me off.

    1. I must have been asleep when this opened since it is very close to where I take my son for squash just about every day of the week, but with that construction going on, I've had to alter my route, which may be why I wasn't aware of it. I went to their website to have a look at their menu, and it seems as if there is a very small menu that doesn't include entrees. Or is there another menu at the place itself? The prices for food didn't seem outrageous to me, but I can't really comment on the beer since I rarely drink the stuff. I will definitely have to check it out, and it sounds as if it is I good thing to have waited until some of the kinks were worked out.

      8 Replies
      1. re: roxlet

        They have entree specials that are not on the menu.

        1. re: roxlet

          They don't have the prices listed on their beer menu, just the alcoholic strength. The menu has changed quite a lot, and the prices seem a bit more reasonable than before, but the size for the price isn't great. $10-$14 for the sandwiches is pricey for sandwiches on the small side. I plan on going back again to try more of the food some time soon, since I didn't eat the last time I was there, just had way too many Dogfish Head Barley Wine beers at 15% abv.

          1. re: JMF

            JMF, not sure if you meant the website or the actual menu when you are there, but the menu in the place has the prices as well as the alc. content. Most beers range from $6.00-$7.50. I wouldn't say more than City prices, but comparable. I was a little disheartened when I ordered the Ithaca Storm Front (excellent BTW) and it came in what looked like a wine glass.

            I didn't really look at the menu when I was there, but will try it out. What I had was good, but I don't consider $9 for about 15 bites of food worth it. I have heard the portions are embarrassingly small, but if it's good, I'd be willing to spend the extra buck or two.

            The service was good and seemed to be great with the tables. I had heard they got off to a very slow start....which made me question the incredible review it got only days after opening.

            1. re: jhopp217

              Those beer prices are much less than the times I was there. I paid $9-12 a beer. Where did you read an incredible review? If it was Yelp... could have been a shill.

              1. re: JMF

                Westchester Magazine. Top 31 Bars. I'm not saying it shouldn't be in it (haven't been to all), but to get that kind of press after being open for about two months is uncanny.

                1. re: jhopp217

                  If you put an ad in Westchester Magazine they will write you a great review. They asked me to write a drinks column for them, and hinted that they had a list of places to give good reviews of. I turned down the job.

              2. re: jhopp217

                You must mean the Ithaca Cold Front. That beer is meant to be drunk out of a tulip/wine glass/goblet to fully appreciate it. I just came back from 4 hours at the Growler and I have to say that I am now very impressed. they are striving to serve the best beers in the appropriate glasses, and their prices are now good for the quality they carry.

                1. re: JMF

                  They also have happy hour with greatly reduced beer prices from 4-7pm. Brews like Ommegang Three Philosophers and Gulden Draak are reduced from $9 beers are $5. Also the small bites / starters are reduced $2.

          2. I would think for a nice beer selection and very good food at the same time, wouldn't it make sense to go to The Tap House? From the description here, the food at Tap House is leaps and bounds better.

            12 Replies
            1. re: MRS

              I still haven't been, but need to stop by there soon. Heard they have great burgers and wings, which I wouldn;t have initially expected.

              1. re: jhopp217

                I think you'll be pleasantly surprised and really enjoy it. I find that the different dining areas within the restaurant give you opportunity to have whatever vibe you may in the mood for. The bar area is rather boisterous depending on when you are there, and gives you that busy homey bar feel-if you want it. The back dining room is rather comfy and the upstairs dining room is much quieter. The private room downstairs is great for a party, or even a large dinner reservation. ( My husband made my 35th birthday party there and it was perfect)
                What I really love about Tap House is that no matter what you feel like eating, some variation of it is on the menu and its all done very well. Nothing haphazard at all. Burgers and casual food are great. Apps are terrific but the entrees are just as good.

                1. re: MRS

                  I do think the Tap House is very good. It's not overwhelmingly fabulous, IMO, but totally solid. You get a good meal for a good price. The burgers are very good, but I've not tried the wings. It's interesting that there are two beer-centric restaurants within a couple of blocks of each other.

              2. re: MRS

                The beer selection at Growler is way better than at the Tap House.

                1. re: JMF

                  I don't really like beer, so I'll take your word for it. However, I had thought that the Tap House was conceived as a gastro pub with a fairly extensive selection of beer.

                  1. re: roxlet

                    Tap house has a pretty good bottle beer list. The list is good, but the few times I went they didn't have many of the beers on the list. Their draft beer selection is pretty poor.

                    The constantly changing draft brew selection at the Growler is very good. When I was last there they had Dogfish Head Barleywine, which I had never had, and I know some of the folks from that brewery. That keg didn't last long, even though it is a 15% abv brew.

                    1. re: roxlet

                      the Tap house was conceived as way more than they ended up. just had a long conversation with one of the original employees.

                      1. re: JMF

                        There was a lot of drama when it opened. I know someone there now and I've never been , so I'll be silent on that matter

                        1. re: jhopp217

                          I think, in fairness to the restaurant and the people who are there now, what is was or wasn't supposed to be aside, it's still a fine/solid restaurant. We have eaten there dozens of times and never once had any sort of issue.

                          1. re: MRS

                            I agree. I was there recently and had excellent food. The bottled beer list is still pretty extensive, but I can't comment on whether it was all in stock or not. Growlers versus The Tap House is a pretty varied comparison....Growler's is definitely younger and more casual, the Tap House is more of an upscale with a much larger menu.

                    2. re: JMF

                      It's funny, when Lazy Boy opened in White Plains, it was my go to place for beers (and hanging out). Even now, they have the best beer selection around, but it's lost it's luster. They also, even now have some of the best and most interesting wings in Westchester.

                      1. re: jhopp217

                        Ditto. I even worked there as bouncer and beertender for awhile when they first opened. I still go 1-2 times a year for the Thursday wing specials and put back a few pints. (Although I rarely drink beer nowadays. I think opening a brewery and drinking beer every day for a year or two had something to do with that.)

                  2. OK, after revisiting the place for four hours today, during happy hour when prices are reduced for food and beer, I was impressed. They remembered my name from my last visit 25 days ago. They offered everyone tastes of all beers before you chose. one guy came in to buy two growlers (1/2 gallon bottles to go) and they let him try a taste of all 17 brews on tap. The food isn't to my taste, but is well prepared and most folks will enjoy it. The prices for food seem steep, but you will be satisfied. I got a sandwich and it came with fries and I was only able to eat 1/3 of the plate, and enjoyed it. The beer prices are now good for what you get. It is nice to see how hard they have worked to improve the place. Management seems to be both keeping an eye on the internet, and seeking out criticism from the clientele. All in all, if you are a beer aficionado, or friends with one and you like wine, and you are in the area, you will enjoy the Growler.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: JMF

                      The guy with the two growlers was my husband. He's rather picky about his beer, as you can see. He said the bartender was great about it. He'll be back and will bring home some more Devils on Horseback for me.

                      1. re: foodiemom10583

                        I was the guy who spoke with him as he was making his choice.

                        1. re: JMF

                          When I mentioned your post, he said, "That's probably the guy I was talking to." He was there because I recommended it based on your positive comments regarding the beer selection, JMF. Yours, too, JHopp.

                    2. I have been three times, on the very early side, as I went my my children. Nice. Keeps what is nice about living in a burb but feels *city*, not the usual trying-too-hard-to-be-interesting-and-end-up-being-Blahhhhh. Nice tight menu, but still across the spectrum from pub-to-trendy. Good beer goes w/o saying, I think. Great addition to the food scene.

                      1. After a day of work around the house, my husband requested I find a good place for dinner with great beer. I remembered the conversation on this board about Growlers, so we headed down to check it out. We had a little trouble finding it since it's set back from the main road a bit. The inside reminds me a bit of the big, airy restaurants in Irvington (Day Boat, Red Hat) in those old industrial buildings that have been repurposed. It's a bit stark inside, but has a trendy feel. That said, I was a bit confused to find a lot of families there with infants and toddlers (this is the same confusion I experienced at Bar Taco, where we were surrounded by screaming, misbehaving children-- something I wouldn't expect at a place with "bar" in the name) and the toddler at the table next to us was hurling her books and toys across the restaurant. I mention this only because we expected this to be more of a grown-ups only place (given the "beer" in the restaurant's name, foolishly I suppose) but this is clearly a family restaurant up until bedtime. (We left around 8:30 and the kid crowd was still going strong.)

                        The food is a step above the usual pub type food (so I guess these kids were young chowhounds!), and the beer list is extremely respectable. We shared a flight of beer-- $18 for 5 six ounce pours, a GREAT way to heavily sample some of their excellent beers. We tried Peak Organic Simcoe Spring Ale, Firestone Walker Union Jack (IPA), Captain Lawrence Brown Bird, Lagunitas WTF, and Peak Organic Mocha Stout. Since I am just physically unable to stomach more than a beer and a half in one sitting, this was an amazing way to get to try a good number of beers off their lengthy draft list (my faves were the PO Spring Ale, the Brown Bird, and the Mocha Stout (amazing, like a beer milkshake)).

                        Their small bites were more appealing to us than their sandwiches. To start, we shared the Murray's cheese plate, hot pretzel bread served with whole grain mustard, and spinach artichoke dip. The cheese and dip were served with crispy bread chips. The pretzel bread was awesome (wonder if it's house made? seemed like it)... spinach artichoke dip was pretty standard, how could it be bad really, and the cheese plate was great. Then we shared the growler fries, mac and cheese, and gumbo. Loved the mac and cheese! Better than my usual standard at Umami in Croton. The gumbo was tasty though by that time I was getting full. Their "famous" fries come laden with bacon bits and parmesan. The temperature was a little uneven but they were good for a bar snack.

                        Service was a bit frenetic but accommodating and they seem especially knowledgeable about beer. We overheard the lady next to us asking for a Coors Light, and the waiter very nicely guided her to a beer with similar qualities that he said he thought she'd enjoy (Jonah Bronks Kingsbridge-- he said it's a new brewery from the Bronx that they have a good relationship with). I liked the total absence of pretension in his answer-- that's the kind of place this is. Beer lovers without being beer snobs.

                        It's quite a trek for us so I can't say we'll be back often, but I definitely recommend this place for beer lovers looking for some above average pub grub, even with little chowhounds in tow.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                          This is a great review of your experience and it certainly sounds appealing as a great, casual place to hang and have some interesting upscale "bar food". But, the notion of screaming children ( and I have a 4 year old, so it's not like I am a child-hater) is a MAJOR turn-off to me when I go out to eat.

                          1. re: MRS

                            To be clear, there were no screaming children at Growlers (the screaming children were at Bar Taco on my first and last trip there). The very small child next to us was getting restless and a bit noisy and when she started hurling things across the restaurant the family left in a hurry. I always hesitate to mention things like this in reviews because I don't want to come across as a grouchy person who doesn't like kids (I'm a teacher and I have 70 "kids") but more often than not when I'm going out with my husband we are looking for a place with other adults to have a grown up night out. I would have liked to have known that this was more of a family place before going because I might have gone elsewhere. But beer lovers have kids too, so it's a good place to have in the area.

                          2. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                            I think it is going to be hard to survive as any kind of casual restaurant in Eastchester/Tuckahoe if you don't make families feel welcome. These are very family oriented communities, where people move because they have kids. I live in Eastchester, have 3 kids, and while I haven't been to this place, I am always looking for places where I can bring my kids and get something interesting to eat. I do not like the current trend to singles-friendly places like Fig & Olive, and suspect that some of these places will not survive because there really isn't a "young singles" scene in this area. We need more family friendly neighborhood spots, not fewer.

                            1. re: rgny

                              I agree and disagree. While not young, I am single and it's nice to go to a place like Haiku with a date for a drink and some sushi, without the clamoring of children. That being said, I have no problem meeting friends for drinks at a place like Piper's or Mickey's and having the kiddies running around. I think places like Growler's are a little odd, albeit I had a great time when I was there, because it's not really a kid friendly menu and the acoustics don't play well with kids (especially babies) making a lot of noise. I think we have plenty of restaurants that cater to both scenes you speak of, the problem is with the social contract....parents bringing their kids to non-kid friendly places and single people expecting more from the neighborhood burger/Italian joints.

                              1. re: jhopp217

                                For the most part, I think that the presence of young children depends on when you go out to eat. But rgny is right. If you like a restaurant, you hope that families will go, which will help a place survive. It's rare to find young children after 8PM.

                                1. re: roxlet

                                  we avoid going out before 8pm ( leaving our almost 4 yr old home w/ the sitter) for that very reason.

                                  1. re: roxlet

                                    It's a catch-22. It's great to see families keeping local places open, but there are times when you wanna grab a bite to eat, as an adult, during dinner time. I always appreciate it when parents with little ones bring them out before 6pm. To me, shows they are considerate of others. That all being said, if the kids are acting up, it's not the atmosphere most likely, it's the lack of parenting. That's a thread that has been beaten to death though.

                                  2. re: jhopp217

                                    Plenty of kids go to Haiku. Just early. The scene totally changes from 7pm to after 8pm. I have been there with my ds about 7:45 coming home from a late appt. and we were starving. It definitely became a couples scene after 8pm. We have also been there at 5 or 6 pm on the weekends and it was filled with kids. Now mine is 10-1/2 so is now well behaved which opens things up for us.

                                    We haven't been to Growlers because my dh is on medication with strict instructions not to drink alcohol. When my dad comes up from FL we will probably go but early.

                                    Unfortunately with the economy how it is. Some people chose to go out and take the kids rather than pay $12-15 an hour for a babysitter. I was and am lucky to have grandma on the weekends although now I have to fight off my BIL/SIL for her services as they have 2 kids under 4 yo.

                              2. There is a Groupon for Growlers today...

                                http://www.groupon.com/deals/growlers...

                                1. Went to a Sara Evans concert at Empire City last night (please don't use that as judgment against my opinion as I'm a metal head by nature...the concert was for my wife) so it was a no brainer to have dinner and beers here prior.

                                  Since my main focus was the beer it was also a pleasure to actually walk away with a full stomach filled with some great food as well. Yeah the place is stark and basically a sports bar with food but when you're a beer oriented place what more could you want? At least they're not all cookie cutter glitzy like Yard House. And here they know and respect beer that's for sure.

                                  We walked in and sat down and immediately were greeted by Bernadette who was attentive and friendly the whole evening. After receiving our drinks a barkeep named Zach walked over to chat beer. I was wearing a Hill Farmstead Brewery t-shirt so it was easy for him to notice someone with a passion for beer. We chatted about Hill Farmstead, Captain Lawrence, brewing a house beer on their new Elmsford pilot system and just beer and food in general. He later came back with a liter swingtop of his homebrew for us to try and comment on. Very cool.

                                  Any rate...the beers are priced OK to me and served in appropriate glassware from the beers I ordered (CL DIPA in a smaller tulip and Victory Prima Pils in a shaker pint glass).

                                  Food was excellent. We had the Hush Puppies as an app and my wife devoured her Veggie Sandwich while I overstuffed myself on Wild Boar Chili and the Brisket Sandwich. All the food was great and the Growlers Fries with Parm, Parsley and Bacon just threw it over the top. We ended up taking home 1/2 each of our fries for our sons to gobble on tonight with their dinner.

                                  Overall this place was exactly what we were looking for and we will definitely head back here when visiting the casino again. Maybe even make the trek back just for beers if they have another Captain Lawrence meet the brewer night as well.