Located on Thompson Street, only a few blocks from my alma mater, I was immediately struck by how crowded The Malt House appeared on a chilly winter week night. From your usual hipster suspects and NYU locals to corporate parties looking to inject some spark into their after-work dinners, there were plenty of happy patrons. In a neighborhood that often finds itself divided by age, vocation, and sense of community, it was fascinating to see a place that attracted all types. Brick walls, sconces, and dark wood furniture all helped to cultivate an atmosphere that felt classy yet lived in.
Owners Darren Shore and Eoin Foyle hail from Ireland, providing an old world sense of charm alongside delicious American comfort food. The lighting is sleepy though the bustling masses of patrons mitigate any drowsiness you might feel going in. It’s a bit like living in a period piece, but everybody has smart phones and the food is more than a set piece.
The meal began with a crispy, crackly bang as we were served a towering appetizer trio of bacon-fried onion rings, fried cheese curds, and fried tempura pickles. Each was golden and breaded with a salty, crunchy outside. I couldn’t get enough of the white cheddar cheese curds, which were perfectly gooey and succulent bits of cheese. Imagine the best mozzarella sticks you’ve ever had, then marry them to your favorite tater tots! Additionally, while pickles usually send my taste buds into sour hysterics (recall that I am a supertaster), I found the Malt House’s to be tastefully sliced and refreshingly delicate in both texture and flavor.
Chicken Wings came next, and they were very tasty. The Malt House goes the extra mile and bakes, fries, AND grills their wings. They came with a creamy Roquefort sauce (presumably to mellow out some of the spiciness), but I found them mild and tasty.
For entrees, we were equally spoiled. I tasted the Malt House Burger, the Steak Sandwich, the Lobster Mac & Cheese and the Malt House Salad.
The burger stood out with ample amounts of hickory-smoked bacon, sweet onion marmalade, and a large, baked bun actually branded with the initials of the restaurant. Its medium rare innards were very juicy and slathered with cheese. It also happens to be GIGANTIC! A devilishly delicious selection, and a good choice if you haven’t eaten all day and don’t plan on eating anything later that night!
If the burger was the Malt House King, then I consider the Steak Sandwich to be its princess. Thin slices of steak under a canopy of gruyere and arugula made for a very dainty sandwich, light in texture but filled with rich flavor. In particular, the rich garlic aioli really brought out the fresh ingredients on the sandwich, which I would describe on the whole as buttery and savory.
Made with a blend of white cheddar, parmesan, and gruyere cheeses, the Mac & Cheese can be considered another strong choice on the menu. The noodles themselves were firmly textured and the sauce was thick, but not too rich. The lobster claws on top acted as an odd, meaty garnish. Frankly, it really boiled down to classically good macaroni with some lobster plopped on top. I didn’t feel like the lobster was incorporated in the most creative way, but the ingredients were all tasty and fresh.
With ample servings of grilled chicken and a zesty balsamic vinaigrette, the Malt House Salad also presents a decidedly healthy option, though I’d probably recommend one of the meaty sandwiches over it. If you want something light, get the steak. Again, it’s a very good salad, but The Malt House is the kind of place where you’ll want to soak up those extra calories of flavor.
For dessert, I tried the Choco Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and the Crème Brulee. Served beneath a ruby curtain of fresh strawberries and blueberries, the Crème Brulee managed to be decadent yet refreshing, and I adored it–easily one of my favorite items on the menu!
Befitting its name, The Malt House has an impressive selection of craft beers and other alcoholic beverages! I recommend the Milk Stout. It’s so creamy it almost tastes like coffee.
If you’re in search of food, drink, or warmth, pay this tavern a visit!
The Malt House
206 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012
Hours: 12 PM-4 AM
Telephone: 212 – 228 7310