Local Beer Is on the Menu

Chef Steven Cardello presents a daily special behind the bar at Relish.

Chef Steven Cardello presents a daily special behind the bar at Relish.

Something about it feels a bit like a diner. Order a short stack of buttermilk pancakes with a side of bacon and the waitress won’t bat an eye—even if it’s well past noon. S’mores and apple pie milk shakes accompany towering turkey club sandwiches. But when the sun goes down, you can sit at the same booths and enjoy local weakfish over a warm, herbed fingerling potato salad and pea puree paired with a fresh-brewed, juicy IPA.

Relish in Kings Park is just one neighborhood joint that aims to take advantage of all Long Island’s harvest has to offer. On each breakfast platter you’ll find free-range, organic eggs from Raleigh Poultry Farm of Kings Park alongside hearty sunflower toast from Blue Duck Bakery in Southampton. Your coffee cup will be amply filled with Gentle Brew, whose aromatic, flavorful beans are sourced from around the world but roasted right in Long Beach.

Crispy duck breast comes from Crescent Farm in Aquebogue—the only remaining duck farm on the island. The land has been in the family for more than 400 years and they’ve been raising ducks since 1907.

Sister restaurant Reel, a fresh fish market right down the street, supplies Relish with a bounty of local seafood. Long Island clams and Montauk swordfish are frequently incorporated into daily specials. In fact, Reel and Relish will sometimes offer the same preparation but choose to showcase a different fish at each.

Check out the beer menu and you’ll really start to notice a theme—all the breweries are also local. Every single tap at Relish features a Long Island beer that has been carefully chef selected, so you know it’ll pair perfectly with the food.

Fresh local produce on its way into Relish care of Meredith Machemer.

Fresh local produce on its way to Relish care of Meredith Machemer.

Pomme, a Belgian ale from St. James Brewery, gets its namesake and crisp, delicate flavor from apples grown at Richter’s Orchard in Northport. The recipe is rounded out with Long Island hops and New York State grain. “It’s a local product. It’s best when it’s fresh and doesn’t have to travel far,” says Jamie Adams, owner and brewmaster. “We really want the location to influence the flavor of the beer.”

Relish also worked with us, Edible Long Island and the Brewers Collective to launch our spiced collaboration brew made with locally grown greengage plums. Chef and owner Steven Cardello used Peace Out Plum Stout—a name chosen by readers—as the inspiration for a passed menu paired with the collective’s beers.

For special occasions, Relish has been known to offer fixed menus with an optional wine or local beer pairing. That you can sit down to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner paired with beer is becoming more and more commonplace. Because beer styles span such a range of flavors, it’s easy to start a meal on a crisp, refreshing note and end with a rich, coffee porter paired with vanilla ice cream.

Every single tap at Relish features a Long Island beer that has been carefully chef selected, so you know it’ll pair perfectly with the food.

Despite beers rise in social status, BYOB is still mostly associated with a summer barbecue or house party. Even a few years ago our families gave us odd glances when we pulled 750-milliliter beer bottles out of portable carriers typically reserved for wine. However, since chefs are now experimenting with beer and food pairings, diners are more willing to follow suit.

The Trattoria in Saint James, in a small, unassuming shopping center, seats about 30 people. The menu is seasonal and local, with rustic Italian dishes ranging from house-pickled vegetables to red wine brasato (braised beef) with creamy polenta. The trattoria focuses on showcasing ingredients but does not serve any alcohol. Though once taboo, it’s not unusual to see groups sit down and open a few bottles of special beer alongside their usual wines.

Taking it one step further, the trattoria regularly hosts dinners with a set menu served with a range of beers from a featured brewery. The food is meant to stand up to and enhance the beer, and vice versa.

They’ve also been known to serve dishes that pair well with beer in general. Chef and owner Steve Gallagher has prepared several multi-course menus for Long Island Beer and Malt Enthusiasts, a local homebrew club. Members bring their own beverages—oftentimes rare or aged beer—so the menu works with a wide range of styles.

From left to right: Cindy Halloran, Steve Gallagher and Bartolo Rodas putting the finishing touches on the signature meatballs and polenta at The Trattoria.

From left, Cindy Halloran, Steve Gallagher and Bartolo Rodas putting the finishing touches on the signature meatballs and polenta at the Trattoria.

Long Island restaurants are beginning to create a genuine local dining experience by offering native ingredients in your dish and your glass. The emergence of 20-plus breweries on the island, combined with local farms, gives a greater opportunity for Long Islanders to truly eat and drink local.

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