Where to Eat in the Hudson Valley
Foodies of all types have discovered the Valley and its wide variety of top-flight restaurants. One chef even predicts we’ll soon be vying with California’s Napa Valley as a dining destination. Find out what all the buzz is about with these profiles of local eateries
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Chef Anthony Accomando stands just outside the dining room of Antoine McGuire’s Oyster & Ale House, his popular Haverstraw eatery
Haverstraw’s Happy Hybrid
“A little French, a little Irish and a whole lot o’ fun!” proclaims the menu at this upbeat Haverstraw hybrid that’s part bistro, part pub, with a dash of old-time New York oyster house thrown in for good measure. Anthony Accomando, the 31-year-old chef who owns the place with his friend Peter McGuire, 40, says the idea was to honor McGuire’s Irish roots by offering pub grub, but with French touches that reflect Accomando’s own training at the French Culinary Institute.
“Our shepherd’s pie is the perfect example of how we married classic French cooking and Irish pub food,” he says. “It’s a French lamb stew, braised in wine, served in a dish lined with puff pastry and topped with mashed potatoes.” Other Celtic-Gallic specialties are beer-battered Brie, corned beef gratin in a béchamel sauce topped with Gruyere, and Dublin-style fried oysters remoulade. Grandmere’s roast chicken would fly in any language. “It’s comfort food, but people are surprised at how light it is,” Accomando notes. “Even the Guinness braised short ribs, which are cooked the traditional French way but with Guinness — the flavors are quite clear.... The raw bar is huge,” he goes on. “We get the absolutely freshest oysters. The Raw Deal is one of our signatures: three oysters, three clams, shrimp, and mussels in a galvanized bucket — it’s the average man’s seafood tower.”
Served in a metal bucket, the Raw Deal is the restaurant’s signature shellfish dish
Antoine McGuire’s opened in the old Mardoff’s Bakery building on April Fool’s Day last year — a date chosen as “sort of a gag,” explains Accomando, because delays by the state Liquor Authority had locals joking about whether they’d ever get in the door. The space is divided into a bar (the oyster and ale side), with exposed brick walls, beams and a pubby atmosphere; and a softly-lit dining room with red banquettes and a black and white tiled floor. Peter McGuire acts as host, when he’s not at his day job, putting out fires in the Bronx. “The restaurant is the main draw, but we get a nice little bar crowd,” Accomando says. “We have three huge TVs, tuned to sports, news, and the cooking network — so you can get all the information you need in life.”
Local farmers supply much of the meat and produce. Prices are fair, with the most expensive entrée only $23 (the filet mignon, Gaelic style). The wine list comes sorted by price ($25, $35, and $45), while the beer list is divided into imported and domestic brews by type, some of which are from local breweries like Defiant in Pearl River and Captain Lawrence in Pleasantville.
“It’s a sophisticated but comfortable place,” says Accomando, who grew up in Haverstraw and once helped out at his parents’ eateries. (Mom runs the J&B luncheonette; his father owns Babe’s Bar & Grill in West Haverstraw.) “You feel you’re in a hip, happening place.”