I STILL remember the first time I had a Guinness properly poured and at the optimal (not too cool) temperature. It was in a small pub in a small town in Ireland, and it was like nothing I’d ever tasted — thick and rich and full of flavor. I wanted to drink it slowly, almost eat it with a spoon. I had dinner that night, too, but I couldn’t tell you what I had: The experience was all about the beer.
My first meal at the Quiet Man Public House, which opened in Peekskill in August, was different in many ways, but it brought that memory back. This is a place that takes its beer, and the authentic Irish pub experience, seriously. The space has been beautifully, lovingly renovated (the owner, Cathal McGreal, has also owned Hibernian Wood Design, which does restaurant and bar renovations, for 20 years). The outside is painted a traditional shiny black with gold accents, and you enter through the bar, which features 19th-century Irish church arches along a portion of the back wall.
In a corner by a window is a table with its own Guinness tap, where customers can pull their own pints (and those are full European pints of 20 ounces, not the typical 16). Ordering at the bar, whose teak top is made of reclaimed deck boards from the battleship North Carolina, you have about a dozen choices on tap, including the Irish trifecta of Guinness, Smithwick’s and Harp.
Beer makes its way onto the menu as well. Cheddar ale toast — béchamel, cheese and bacon sauce over toast with scalloped potatoes — is prepared with a stout. It’s a hardy, tasty cold-weather appetizer that I enjoyed with a pint of hard cider. There is also stout in the chili, which is part of another good starter: Irish nachos. The dish is made with potato slices instead of tortilla chips, layered with the chili and melted Monterey Jack.
Potatoes are the star of several offerings, including the shepherd’s pie, topped with light, buttery mashed potatoes, and bangers and mash, served with the same fluffy spuds. Both were solid versions of the classic dishes, though the side of whipped carrots and turnips that came with the sausages had a subtle taste of nutmeg that hinted at creative possibilities.
There’s a lovely beef stroganoff at the Quiet Man (“I’m not sure why this is on the menu, but it’s my favorite thing here to eat,” said our waitress on a recent evening). The burger, nicely seasoned with garlic, is an American classic. And the desserts include an excellent Italian cheesecake and chocolate mousse. But there’s no mistaking the restaurant’s culinary roots. One of the best entrees on the menu is the fish and chips — light and crispy and served with a sharp malt vinegar. And the Irish soda bread, made by a local baker, was warm and plump with raisins.
Then there’s the feel of the place. You’ll hear Irish accents from the tables around you, as well as from some of the employees. Photos of Irish heroes, from Oscar Wilde and James Joyce to Bob Geldof and the Cranberries, line the walls. It isn’t exactly like being in Ireland, but if you’ve been there, it may summon some memories.
Source: Emily DeNitto, nytimes.com