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Jan 23, 2012 02:02 PM

First Impressions of Growlers Bistro in Tuckahoe

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.