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The People’s Pub In Chatham Ramps Up For The Season

By Joanna Virello

A friend from Claverack who loves hyper-local beer suggested that I check out The People’s Pub, a new establishment in Chatham, New York, opened by Angus Van Beusichem and Gray Ballinger, who grew up just a few miles south in Harlemville. Along with a few other friends, they constructed a new food and craft beer mecca in the old Welsh bar on Main Street, the former Peint o Gwrw. Once I heard they had a beer list that pays homage to a great number of small breweries from all over the U.S. — as well as something called Free Bird Wings rubbed with “ancho chile” — it was all over. When we arrived at The People’s Pub and learned it was $1 Oyster Night, I could barely contain myself.

Inside The People’s Pub, we were greeted by a large stuffed bear and cruised by the ornate 19th-century American Gothic bar en route to the stunning main room with its old-school tin ceilings and exposed carved beams. The room is strewn with leather two-seaters and a fireplace that glows near the back. We were seated next to the kitchen, giving us a clear view of everything that was coming out of the open kitchen and the food prep by CIA-trained Chef Kouri Killmeier and his swift staff.

Ramps For The People

Last summer while building out the restaurant, Chef Kouri [above] and Van Beusichem (who did the bulk of the construction) needed a break, so they went swimming at a local watering hole. They stumbled upon a ramp “goldmine” and harvested enough to get through the summer season. This year they have already been back to their secret spot and have foraged around 10 pounds so far. They are featuring a weekly ramp specials. My advice: get there early. The ramp pesto was sold out by the time we got there, but we did get our fill with a dish called Ramps on Ramps, [below] which was ramp tempura with a ramp aioli served on a sliced log plate. Simple yet so fresh and flavorful.

“There is nothing like an early season ramps — they are just so fresh and not abrasive.” says Von Beusichem. Chef Kouri would like to preserve and pickle enough to get them through the winter and he wants to incorporate ramp kimchi, pickled ramps, pesto and purees into future offerings.

The place is billed as a pub, but the cocktail menu is full of interesting $12 options such as The New Fangled (Albany Distilling Dark Rum, Luxardo Marchino, Dry Curaçao and bitters), The New York Ass (Bootlegger Vodka, fresh lime and ginger beer) and The Chatham Reviver (Ballast Point Gin, Cocchi Americano, Dry Curaçao, lemon, Chef Handsome Homemade Bitters, with an absinthe rinse.) I went with a New Fangled that was nice and sweet with a large hand-cut cube of ice and a lemon peel garnish; it packed a new-fangled wallop. We got a pint of The Chatham Brewing/The People’s Pub Citracot IPA to savor as well. That collaboration was a big success for me and I’m not a huge fan of IPAs.

Drinks served, we ordered six oysters, three Blue Points from Long Island ($1) and three west coast beauties from Oregon ($3). They were served with three mignonettes, one that was made with carrots and ginger, another that was a dill, pickle and vinegar concoction, and the third was “secret” traditional recipe. All three were quite good.

After the mignonettes and fresh oysters, we moved on to the risotto fritters ($16) and the Brussels sprouts ($7), both worthy of ordering, especially the fried Brussels sprouts all bacony and sweet. The fritters were a delicious meal in themselves and the tomato broth they sat in was perfection. The buttermilk chicken sandwich ($14) was satisfactory but the Spanish octopus ($17.50) was a showstopper. It was charred with vermicelli noodle salad dressed in lime and herbs. I could have eaten two.

A very popular item at The People’s Pub is The People’s Burger ($13.50), made with Kinderhook Farm beef, and fries, served with a healthy heaping of Parmesan cheese, garlic aioli and fresh garden herbs. The staff nailed it.

And about those wings ($11): Van Beusichem, one of the owners, elaborated on the thoughts behind the recipe.

“Chef Kouri’s goal when creating his infamous Free Bird Wings was to encompass all the things you want in a wing: juicy but crispy and spicy, and he chose a flavor profile that satisfies almost everyone’s tastes,” says Van Beusichem. “It pushes approachability without being too esoteric.” Our less esoteric verdict: beyond satisfying — thanks especially to the citrus zest.

We’re looking forward to returning to try the rest of the menu, and The People’s Pub has spring and summer specials planned that will be sure to get us there. Next month sees the launch of a Sunday brunch, with a menu that includes a chicken and waffle sandwich with bacon and maple syrup aioli. In mid May, the Upstairs Espresso Bar will open, featuring coffee selections using No. Six Depot Roastery in West Stockbridge, Mass. and dairy products from Hawthorne Valley Farm. And on May 22, The People’s Pub is collaborating with Sloop Brewing on a four-course beer dinner with four of their beers and food pairings from Chef Kouri.

The People’s Pub
36 Main Street, Chatham, NY
(518) 392-2337
Kitchen hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 4-10 p.m.
Bar hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 4 p.m. - 1 a.m.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/23/17 at 09:23 PM • Permalink