Bistro Invasion in Chappaqua, Katonah & Pleasantville
Bistro Invasion in Chappaqua, Katonah & Pleasantville Three notable openings in our area this fall are packing in “crazy for comfort food” locals with forward leaning bistro offerings – some approaching culinary levels associated with fine dining experiences. Each has it’s own appeal from exciting ambience and breadth of menu to sous vide (yes in a bistro) preparations in the kitchen. All three, Aesop’s Fable in Chappaqua, Pubstreet in Pleasantville and Whitlock in Katonah upgrade the local faire and are worthy “notable noshes nearby” for town-hoppers.
This traditional American Farm to Table restaurant from Tonin and Sose Veshta offers an eclectic mix of entrees, raw bar plus small plates, wood oven pizza and waffle dishes for casual diners.
Executive Chef Matthew Cook honed his skills at the acclaimed farmer-friendly Fat Radish on Orchard Street in New York City. Here he has brought the Radish’s fetish for locally sourced ingredients to Aesop’s Fable.
You can see the influences on his menu from the CSI Farms Dinosaur Kale Caesar to the house ground, grass-fed NY Black Angus beef he uses in his burger – served on a Dam Good English Muffin from Croton on Hudson.
The Small Plates and Aesop’s Market menus have a decidedly bistro feel with dishes like the Goat Cheese Croquettes and the Lil’ Potato, crispy smashed fingerlings with fire roasted onion, curry aioli and pickle. The entrée menu offers a Pan Seared Sea Bass with fire roasted Jerusalem artichokes with hijiki and brown butter and a Slow Cooked Upstate Black Angus skirt steak with sautéed mushrooms and a truffle-soy emulsion.
Add on the wood oven pizza and the waffle menu and we had to go back three times to fully appreciate the full extent of the menu.
On the first trip the Maine Mussels with white wine, garlic, herbs and crust bread and the deeply flavored Braised Brisket Tacos impressed. So we went back.
On our next visit we liked the Black & White Wood Oven Pizza, hand pulled mozzarella, black garlic and micro basil, and the Bunny Food salad with shaved local fennel, heirloom carrot, arugula, kalamata, mint, grapefruit and citronette. Their calamari had elite crispiness. Served with sundried tomato, kalamata, house pickled peppers and Romesco sauce it was a pleasant surprise from traditional faire.
An instant go-to stop for Chappaqua residents, Aesop’s Fable’s Saturday and Sunday brunch, with nine offerings of sweet or savory Belgian Waffles (unlimited mimosas when we were there) is a destination worthy attraction that foodies from surrounding towns will come back to. Their signature Chicken and Waffle is double brined in whiskey and buttermilk and served on a rosemary waffle with spicy maple syrup and watermelon. We also liked the Cheddar Waffle and the Smores Waffle for kids.
(13 King St., Chappaqua, 914,238.3858; www.aesopsfablerestaurant.com)
We had our first Lobster Mac & Cheese in Katonah’s Willie Nick’s when they were the only upscale bistro around. Always a favorite of ours, we were sad to see them close but The Whitlock, who recently took over their space, is a worthy substitute that hits high notes beyond Willie Nicks and most area bistro cuisine for that matter.
Whitlock operators Christina and Matt Safarowic, from Bedford Hills, are the ultimate townies. They named Whitlock after John Burr Whitlock, whose general store, tavern and mill that he established with Squire Wood were the area’s first businesses in the early 1800s. And Chef Matt’s sense of local pride extends to the locally sourced ingredients on his menu that will satisfy the most ardent locavore.
Much of Whitlock’s produce comes from Amba Farms in Bedford Hills, Blooming Hill Farm in Blooming Grove and Meadowland Farm in Clinton Corners. Westchester’s CM Meats provides the protein including a special blend Matt uses in his Classic Burger. Matt treks south of 287 (brave man) for Longford’s Homemade Ice Cream in Larchmont. And, of course, you will find brews from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company and Yonkers Brewing Company on tap.
Matt and Christina met when they both worked at The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry where Matt was the sous chef for David Dibari – who was named Westchester’s Best Chef by Westchester Magazine in 2015.
Whitlock’s most popular dishes are the Chorizo and Shrimp Burger, molded – not ground so it retains a chunky texture; and his Berkshire Pork Chop – slow cooked in it’s own juices. Other signature dishes include their Loaded Lasagna with béchamel, cheddar, broccoli, bacon and scallions; Korean Pork Belly with wild greens and sesame oil. and their creamy ricotta and pesto Gnocchi with pistachios and parmesan – which we liked very much.
When we were there, Chef Matt hit his highest notes with his Organic Murray’s Chicken – the single best dish we had in all three new eateries! Matt prepares this dish sous vide to retain its juices and then pan sears it to crisp the skin. It is served with coarse grits, wild spinach and local honey.
It was cooked perfectly and compared well with the juiciest white meat and crispiest skin that we’ve only experienced in fine restaurants. We also liked the creamy ricotta and pest Gnocchi with pistachios and parmesan. For these two dishes alone – The Whitlock is worth the trip and a return visit.
(17 Katonah Ave., Katonah, 914.232.8030; www.thewhitlockny.com)
Set in the Pleasantville Train Station, formerly occupied by the Iron Horse Grill, Pubstreet hits high notes for its exciting space and hopping social scene. Beautifully refurbished with full length white wainscoted walls and subdued lighting from hanging fabric covered pendants, Pubstreet has lots of charm. And on a Friday night the place fills up early with commuters scooting in from the Metro North, ready for their first weekend glass of wine and Pubstreet’s vintage contemporary bistro menu.
This new entry comes from Joe Bueti’s Village Social Restaurant. Like Village Social, Pubstreet is headed up in the kitchen by Chef Mogan Anthony of Chopped! fame. Chef Anthony spent his formative years with chef Jean George Vongerichten.
Chef Anthony approached the menu at Pubstreet with a decidedly bistro attitude offering comfort foods with global flavors. Here American classics are paired with international versions like the traditional Buffalo wings or a Vietnamese version with a lime glaze and peanuts. Pubstreet’s sliders come three ways, a traditional crabcake with remoulade, pork belly sliders with smoked maple syrup and a crispy oyster slider with kimchee tartar.
It’s the kind of place where you can get a traditional lobster roll or burger ora Japanese style rice bowl with crispy chicken pickles and sombol aioli. There’s a raw bar and a short entrée menu featuring Broiled Black Cod glazed with a blend of chili paste, made from ten different chilies and honey. Did we mention that Chef Anthony makes a mean ceviche and the Pubstreet Brownie scored big with vanilla ice cream, waffle cone hazelnut crumble and chocolate sauce.
Pubstreet has a great bar scene, where you will probably spend some time waiting for a table. Or get there early for a nosh before catching a flick at the Jacob Burns Film Center.
(20 Wheeler Ave., Pleasantville, 914.909.5408; www.pubstreet.com)
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