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#71 – VENISON NACHOS at WATERFRONT ALE HOUSE

Once again Time Out New York released their Top 100 Dishes of the year and once again, story I’m going to eat my way through every one. And no price point or subway delay will stop me. In no particular order, here’s my take on their Top 100.

For the first few years I lived in New York, I’d often hang out at pubs (usually the Irish variety) for an after work drink or to meet up with some friends. These are the places we would go because they were cheap (by NY standards), plentiful (there’s really one on every corner in this city), and allowed us to talk without competing with loud dance music. And often I’d order something to eat (since I like to eat) like chicken wings, sliders, or nachos.

But now it’s been years since I’ve been to this sort of pub. I don’t usually go out for drinks much anymore and if I do, it’s to one of the hip, much more expensive cocktail dens in the city. And of course, my food snobbery has overtaken any possibility of a dinner comprised of bar food.

So it was strange, yet somehow refreshing to step into Waterfront Ale House on Second Avenue (they have a sister – or brother – location in Brooklyn). We were here to get the Venison Nachos before a movie next door. So it was ironic when we were offered a bowl of complimentary popcorn. If only I could have taken it to go.

We had come specifically for the nachos and had dinner plans after the movie, so I didn’t examine the menu too closely. I did notice they had quite a beer selection consisting of interesting local and craft ales. I also noticed that the nachos with venison chili cost a whopping $17.95! I’m sure venison meat is a little pricey, but that’s quite expensive for an appetizer and quite expensive for nachos.

Well, I must say when the order came, we got our money’s worth. This was a giant platter of tortilla chips! They were topped with a mound of the usual: sour cream, melted yellow and white cheese, tomatoes, jalapeños, and onions. But the classic bar snack is updated and slightly refined with the addition of plump black olives and a venison chili. The chili wasn’t quite as gamey as I had hoped, although there were some really nice earthy bites of venison meat. Yet it had deep earthy flavors with notes of cloves, cinnamon, and chili. It was warming and unique. And worked quite well on top of nachos.

Somehow we managed to finish the entire platter between two of us (so you can imagine we skipped the popcorn at the movie). I’m not quite sure I’d spend this much on nachos again, but I can probably say these are definitely some of the best I’ve ever had.

And everything about Waterfront Ale House was surprisingly warm and refreshing – the service was good, the menu was interesting, and the bar food was far from tired. Does this mean I’m going to start hanging out at pubs for dinner again? That might be a whole different food blog.