One recent Friday afternoon around 2pm I found myself in NYC, and to celebrate the commencement of summer hours, we decided to take advantage by having a late lunch during happy hour. I had a coupon for a retail establishment, and we noticed that just around the corner was a place called Heartland Brewery. Although I hadn’t been there before, Phil had, and he highly recommended it, suggesting we go there for an appetizer and to try their seasonal Summer Apricot Ale.
He had me at Brewery.
Being that it is a brewery, I thought it would be best to try one of their house beers and one of their seasonale, allowing us to share and sample each. We ordered their house lager, the Cornhusker and the Seasonal Summer Apricot Ale. We also ordered the appetizer sampler. Get this: it’s called the “Heartland Pu Pu Platter” – if I wasn’t in to sampling as many things as possible, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to ask for it out loud.
The sign out front says “Brewery and Rotisserie” which has me skeptical, as the vision in my head that of Boston Market with beer on tap. Can’t judge a restaurant on it’s tagline, apparently. I was impressed from the second I walked in. Dark wood on the floors some of the walls, with a design theme that is chic yet sporty and homey. There are stairs everywhere. If you aren’t seated on the first floor you will be led down a curved staircase to the bar area where there is a mix of seating options, great lightening and a very, very comfortable feel.
Drink Something New: The Brews
House Cornhusker Lager
This beer was very, very light and refreshing without lacking in the flavor department. If you’ve read my earlier Drink Something New posts, you know that I have come to enjoy malted beers and Belgians, and that I am not a big fan of hops. This beer had virtually no hoppy taste and was very smooth. A great light lager for anyone who likes that kind of beer.
The Seasonal Summer Apricot Ale
This was absolutely delicious, and up there on my favorite beers list for sure. The second you fill your mouth with a sip of this beer there is a rush of flavor. It isn’t overly sweet or fruity, just a strong classic ale taste with citrus notes. It has a smooth finish, not too hoppy and definitely no “dirt” taste. Although it is a very strong taste, it isn’t too heavy or thick, which is perfect. I STRONGLY suggest that you try this beer if you’re in New York City this summer.
Eat Something New: The Food
Like I said, we ordered the Heartland Brewery Pu Pu Platter appetizer sampler, a sampling of their “5 house dishes.” The presentation was great and extremely unique, unlike any other plating I’ve ever seen, especially for a place this casual. It came in a stacked tower, as you can see here, each level devoted to one of the five dishes.
From the top down:
Pulled pork sliders:
I am not a big fan of pulled pork or BBQ in general because I like to taste all of the ingredients I am eating, including the meat. Often times I have found that BBQ style food is drenched, even sometimes drowning, in BBQ sauce, not allowing for any other flavors to come through. These pork sliders surprised me and I liked them more than I had thought I would. Cooked very well, tasty sauce, soft, fresh bun. I only ate half because I wanted to save room and it was the first thing I ate, but if you like pulled pork or even just BBQ, these would be a good choice.
Fried Pickle Spears:
These were, hands down, the best fried pickles I have had to date. And yes, I’ve had fried pickles a number of times. It was a pickle spear cut the way they are usually served with a burger or sandwich in a restaurant. It was fully intact, breaded and fried. The pickle was still perfectly crispy and juicy and tasted like a pickle. Sometimes, when left in the fryer too long I assume, the pickle part of a fried pickle loses its pickle tastes because the breading is too thick or it is too greasy. Not the case at Heartland. The breading, and this goes for all of the breaded items, was perfect. The food obviously is not frozen and the breading is added by hand. It is crunchy and crispy, not at all soggy. The best fried pickles I have ever had.
Like the pickle spears, the mozzarella sticks were perfectly breaded and came in long strips that almost looked like they could have been string cheese in a former lifetime. Very tasty!
The skewers were my least favorite of the five, to the point where, if I was to return and order this sample again, I would ask to substitute a second helping of one of the other 4 to replace this one. The meat was cooked perfectly, not tough or dry and slid right off of the skewer. However, there was almost no seasoning, they were cold, and they alternated with what I think were pieces of tomatoes. It just didn’t go. Very bland and the fact that it was cold didn’t make it any better.
Buffalo Chicken Wings:
Pretty standard appetizer, but Heartland did them very well. I don’t like Buffalo Wild Wings’ wings because of all of the thick breading. I like to still taste some of the chicken. Heartland’s wings are tender and juicy, and the sauce has a great taste and has just the right amount of heat.
Overall I highly suggest this place, hope to return, and think you should try to make it there this summer. Being a brewery, they brew their own beer and it is really very good. The food was good and the atmosphere was classy and relaxed all in one. A great place for happy hour, a dinner date, or even a casual night out.
Have you ever been to one of the Heartland locations?
Do you prefer Breweries to other types of restaurants?
What’s your favorite Brewery in NYC?