"It's the most luscious barbecue I've ever had at a bar."
Looks can be deceiving at Waterfront Ale House. Seventeen beers on tap? By the looks of the homey neighborhood bar a block down from the Kips Bay movie theater, it's a nice surprise, but not a stretch of the imagination. House-smoked meat on the premises that's actually really good? Now that knocked the wind right out of me.
Owned by Sam Barbieri—a local barbecue enthusiast, national barbecue competitor, and member of the The New York BBQ Lover Meetup Group—the modest bar smokes all their meat and fish in-house. This week I ordered the Pulled Pig ($8.95), a small brioche piled high with hickory-smoked pulled pork lightly covered in a thin "Carolina" sauce. The vinegar-heavy sauce was nice and bright and literally made me cough the first time I brought the sandwich to my lips. You won't need to add any condiments to this sandwich. The meat, however, is what really won me over. The hand-shredded pork shoulder was tender and fragrant with the warm smell of hickory. It's the most luscious barbecue I've ever had at a bar.
The Pulled Pig comes with a choice of waffle fries or sweet potato fries. I chose sweet potato fries ($0.75 extra); hand-cut, skin-on, they were chewy with a bit of crispness at the ends. I like sweet potato fries (unlike my French fries) a touch soft, so these fit the bill. And although the fries come with a brown ale honey mustard sauce for dipping, generously seasoned with salt and pepper, they're more than fine without it.
For those who love French onion soup, Waterfront Ale House also makes their own version, pub-style. The Crock Of 4 Onion Porter Soup ($6.95) comes covered with a thick crackly layer of melted Emmentaler and Parmesan garnished with scallions and diced red pepper. Breaking through the crunchy top revealed a dark broth rich from the caramelized onions and malty from the porter. It can be a little salty, but the broiled cheese alone makes it worth ordering.
With Thanksgiving in mind, I ordered a pint of the Heartland Smiling Pumpkin Ale ($5). With notes of cloves and cinnamon, the beer tasted more like pumpkin pie than pumpkin, but it was appropriate for the holiday and the slightly sweet beer paired well with the malty onion soup.
For an unassuming bar in Kips Bay, Waterfront Ale House exceeds expectations. The next time I'm in the area for a movie, I'll be making a quick pit stop for barbecue, cheesy soup, and one or two of the seventeen beers on tap. It beats nachos with day-glo cheese and mummified hot dogs at the movie theater any day. And by the way, Waterfront Ale House offers takeout. If you happen to have a big bag with you on the way to the movies, do with that information what you will.
Waterfront Ale House
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