The newest in a mini chain of gastropubs – one in the Financial District and one in the Bronx – Clinton Hall has made an appearance at the Seaport on Fulton Street, thanks to the Howard Hughes Corporation and the hospitality group, The Lure Group, whose efforts are gentrifying the District.
It was a lovely summery/spring evening when my guest and I arrived; sitting indoors wasn’t what we had in mind. Fortunately, en famille-style tables are on two sides of the gastropub, and the breezes that came off the river were delightful. We took seats.
Presently, our busy server, Aldana, came to deliver the menu and take our drinks order. When I asked about Clinton Hall’s rosé wines, Aldana mentioned what sounded like Verve Rosé. I ordered a glass. If it was supposed to be sparkling, it wasn’t. It had no nose to speak of (perhaps it was the plastic glass), and it had a slightly bitter taste. I turned it back – at those prices ($26), the bar tender should be more aware of the pour. I asked to see the label. Aldana brought out an unopened bottle. “OH! Verve Clicquot!” Lynn, my guest, and I exclaimed in unison. Nearly effervescent, the rosé delivers a refreshing fruity and full-bodied flavor. We didn’t order the bottle, instead we ordered two glasses of Margerum Rosé, from the Central Coast of California, a dry sparkling rosé, which offered a fresh, tingly taste that had a slight acidity and a nose of lemon and fruit scents. Kudos to the sommelier and suppliers.
Our main course came: Lynn ordered a burger. LaFrieda, the family-owned butchers, supplies many of the top restaurants in New York. Their meat was tasty, tender, moist and done to perfection. The mystery was why there were fries protruding from a hole in the center of the burger. I ordered the “Fish Off the Hook” – cod on a bun, served atop a bib leaf. The top of the bun was spread with an unknown sauce, and I’ll know the next time to ask for it on the side. The fish was battered and deep fried and was fresh, flakey, tender and delicious when I cut into it. The side of tartar sauce had a hint of chipotle and a shot of malt vinegar. The fries were beautifully done – thin and crispy, and the side of onion rings was something I’d not had in a long time. The fresh onions were battered and deep fried and were divine. Yum. The fresh, crisp salad didn’t have any dressing per se. Instead, it had a wonderful salsa that was so delicious I could have gobbled up the cardboard dish on which it was served.
There are 20 types of burgers; they range from sliced ribeye beef patties to plain burgers, bacon burgers, bacon and egg burgers, chicken, Italian truffle, “fondue,” turkey, chick pea and fried chicken parmesan-crusted burgers, ending with pulled pork burgers. Most are smothered in a variety of cheeses and can be paired with draft beers, ales and largers. Additional items on the menu include sausages (classic bratwurst, French/Cajun smoked pork andouille and chicken and apple). The desserts on the menu satisfy a sweet-addict’s dream. Both the supercraft draft beers and ciders and the burger selections will be rotated according to the seasons.
The Clinton Hall Garden Bar (as opposed to a pub, which serves food) is a long, charming, greenery-adorned pergola opposite the Clinton Hall gastropub. At the bar, guests can order top shelf cocktails and a wide variety of wine and beer.
Opposite the Garden Bar are several long tables, where guests can bring their drinks to sit, chat and play games. We watched two groups seriously involved in Jenga, and chess is also available to players.
In addition to other games, many of which are situated on the second floor, the Clinton Hall Seaport Self Pour station is a “sip and stroll” concept. (Drinking in public in Manhattan was decriminalized in March of 2016.) Upon inquiry, I learned that games such as Cornhole, are played in front of the Self Pour station, which may interfere with purchasers of the brew, or set an inappropriate example for children playing the game.
Clinton Hall’s presentation is a trendy spin on a traditional beer hall and the food is star worthy. I wouldn’t hesitate to return when I’m in the neighborhood. Clinton Hall at Seaport is open Monday through Friday, 11:30 – 2 am, Sunday until midnight. Visit clintonhallny.com, phone 212-363-6000.