by Alice Levitt
4087 Route 108, Jeffersonville, 644-6366
There's pub food. There's gastropub grub. Then there's the Brewster River Pub & Grill.
The former Brewski on Route 108 in Jeffersonville is a true pub, still aimed more at the aprés-ski beer crowd than the gourmet set. A new coat of blue paint on the walls give an inviting feel to the formerly dingy watering hole, which closed after a fire last year. Its new owners are fine-dining alumni, and both the creativity and quality of the food reflect that.
I started with a simple green salad. The greens were fresh and the tomatoes were far from the practically albino specimens I've been seeing around lately. Nothing too notable, until I added the maple-balsamic dressing.
The Vermont staple is usually good, but this was truly something special. Fruity, maple-y and somehow slightly buttery, it was among the best I've tried. Not a surprise, given that Chef Billy Mossinghoff previously worked at One Federal in St. Albans, which has my other favorite maple-balsamic dressing. At Brewster, it was so good, my boyfriend ended up ordering a second cup of it. One simply wasn't enough.
My trip to Brewster River Pub was inspired in part by a recommendation from a reader, Justin Marsh, who referred to the "Porky Pig" sandwich as "smoky deliciousness."
Clearly, I had to try it. The pulled pork sandwich was indeed smoky. If it had just been smoked, I probably would have been thrilled. Instead, it was braised after smoking, leaving it not so much meltingly tender as just melted.
I like my pulled pork with some texture, served in meaty chunks instead of skinny strands. This meat, while flavorful, disappeared into its hearty, egg-washed bun.
My favorite thing on the plate, which also included almost excessively creamy mayonnaise and a pickle, were the fries. The skin-on spuds were ideally soft inside and crisp outside. They were nicely salted, too.
Though the Brewster River menu focuses much of its attention on giant burgers, Pittsburgh-style sandwiches and pub staples such as fish and chips, a few higher-end options are sprinkled throughout. Jerk chicken with mango salsa was a special Sunday night, but I was curious about the risotto.
To be honest, I didn't expect much of $11 risotto. I was wrong. The rice, mixed with snappy snow peas and tender chunks of mushroom, was worth twice the price. The arborio itself was cooked perfectly, with a mild textural bite.
The dish was slightly saucier than I'm used to, which I appreciated — it left plenty of creamy white-wine-flavored sauce in which to dip the chicken. Ah, the chicken. Its marinade left it crusted in herbs and flavored with a hint of citrus and a floral note that I couldn't quite place. It was juicy, too, perhaps a little too juicy. The very center piece was slightly pink. I cut around it and devoured the rest.
I didn't have major plans to finish with dessert. It wasn't listed on the menu, and I was in a manly pub that I suspected might eschew the sweet stuff. But there was dessert. I skipped the crème brûlée in favor of the fried brownie sundae.
You read that right, and it's every bit as magical as it sounds. Imagine a meltingly moist brownie, almost verging on molten, coated in crispy, deep-fried beer batter. Holy cow. Cover that with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and a cherry on top.
I am stunned that no one thought of this before, but am so glad the folks at Brewster River did. I wouldn't be surprised if other restaurants soon follow suit. At least, I hope they do.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to email@example.com.