Monday, January 28, 2008

Edison's bright ideas on beer

As someone who covers the restaurant industry, I can attest that places of all stripes are upgrading their beverages, from McDonald’s (soon to feature espressos and sweet tea) to Taco Bell (look for fruit smoothies) to any independent with a wine list. As a consumer, I’m convinced the tastiest manifestation is what’s happening with beers. Even taverns are diversifying far beyond the big-national lagers to offer specialty brews of all types and flavors. And we in Port are fortunate to have a leading proponent of the trend, though you’ll have to brave Plandome Road and the Plandome-Stonytown Intersection of Death to get there.

Edison’s Ale House boasts not only one of the area’s best beer selections, but also a literary history of sorts. The place was the focus of a great non-fiction book by Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer, called “The Tender Bar.” The memoir recounts Moehringer’s experiences of growing up in Manhasset and spending much of his youth in Dickens and Publican’s, as Edison’s was formerly known. Moehringer’s uncle was a bartender there, and he details the mini-society that was centered on the bar.

I had gotten a taste of that scene because Dickens was a regular haunt of mine (among the local bands I saw was one called Twited Sister), and Publican’s was my home tavern through much of my college years.

Back then, the exotic bar on tap was Michelob Light. Today, you can pick off a beer menu that—sorry, Edison’s kitchen—is more intriguing than the food line-up. Among the choices: Magic Hat #9 (an apricot-tinged quaff whose name alone would appeal to any ex-hippie), Blue Moon (a wheat beer served [and probably best consumed] with an orange slice), Blue Point (a Long Island brew) and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (a longtime favorite of micro-brew aficionados.

The food menu many not be as exotic, but it does the trick. The specialties of the house include ribs, fajitas and burgers. My favorites include the chicken pot pie, the chopped steak, and the Mediterranean-style chicken.

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