206 Thompson Street
New York, NY 10012
Reviewed and Photographed by: Jennifer Baker
Food & Service: The Malt House American Tavern can be found between the Washington Square Park arch and NYU housing on Thompson Street. Their first location opened in 2012 and they expanded last May to open shop in the more corporate business sector of the Financial District.
From the outside The Malt House has the contemporary look of most restaurants on the block with their new awning and painted glass. Inside their décor has a warm and inviting feeling, almost like being inside a cabin. The lighting is muted thanks to lamps mounted on the walls and a string of Christmas lights strung throughout, including around the bar. The wooden siding and brick walls extend from the bar area, with bench seating and a television and on to the dining area without television, featuring more formal booth and chair seating for dinner. Conversation in the pub is sustained at a murmur, dictated by the sounds of alternative music pumping through speakers.
What you can expect from The Malt House is pub food that is satisfying because of the execution. What separates Malt House from your “traditional” pub is their use of the freshest ingredients they can find for their dishes. The heaviness of items on the dinner menu in addition to the large portions makes dishes suitable for sharing family style. Most appetizers are either deep fried or cheese-filled, sometimes both. For instance, the Beer and Bacon Battered Onion Rings are enormous in size and stacked atop one another like a leaning tower. The bacon in the batter is subtle, but the onion rings themselves are standard, crunchy fare. The standout for first courses was the Steamed Mussels in a light jus of roasted tomatoes, chorizo, garlic, herbs, and white wine. The Mussels had a good steam to them resulting in a dish where the wine is fragrant and the meat goes down smoothly.
The dinner entrees are where The Malt House shines a bit more, bringing an authentic, trademark flavor to their menu. The Malt House Burger is their signature, thick, juicy and topped to the gills with a hearty side of French fries. It makes sense this is one of their top dishes since executive chef Armando Avila had previously worked at establishments like 5 Napkin Burger. The Grilled Chicken or Mahi Mahi Tacos have a marinade of ancho chile to kick things up a notch, with a nice cool down from the pico de gallo and fresh cheese. The Tacos are slightly bigger than the size of your palm and stuffed well. The Malt House also has fresh salads available. The Malt House Salad was refreshing and a nice change of pace including watercress, hearts of palm, cherry tomatoes, grilled chicken, and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. It’ll probably be one of best the salads you’ll get in a bar.
Truffle, or truffle oil, has become the new go-to for restaurants to add a particular flavor to their macaroni and cheese. And The Malt House isn’t the first nor the last to try this combo. They offer various versions of their Mac N’ Cheese in small cast iron pots from lobster to bacon to BBQ chicken. While the toppings are sparse, the creaminess of the Mac N’ Cheese is satisfactory, especially as comfort food.
Desserts at Malt House are also made in-house. The Crème Brulee has a creamy custard allowing the vanilla beans to shine through. The Choco Cake is a molten lava variety made with a rich dark chocolate, but seemed more solid than molten when splitting it open. The vanilla ice cream that comes with the Cake is one of the few things not made in-house.
The Malt House also has a wide offering of beer and ciders in addition to top choice spirits. The staff is quite attentive and accommodating and the overall ambiance on a weeknight was not loud or disruptive making this a nice spot for a date or to actually have a conversation with someone. Especially on a cold day, the wide range of deep-fried / cheesy items will satisfy any cravings and warm you up from the inside out.
Stop in soon and tell them DinnerReviews.com sent you!
New Yorker, Jennifer Baker has been writing since she entered the academic institution and continues to do so every moment she gets. Jennifer has a particular love for desserts (both eating and baking them) and while partaking in some of the sugary treats NYC has to offer, she has interviewed local bakeries such as Ivy Bakery, First Prize Pies, Hot Blondies, and Zugar Haus. Jennifer regularly posts about writing, books, baking, and food events in addition to reviews and hosting giveaways on her website: jennifernbaker.com. You can also follow Jennifer on Twitter at @jbakernyc and check out her site at www.jennifernbaker.com