Omnivore and Chronicle food critic Brandon Watson slammed The Beer Plant for its many misfires during his first visit, though found some redemption during his return. The Tarrytown spot opened in September heralded as the city’s first vegan gastropub boasting a "100% plant-derived" kitchen and bar (read: botanical cocktails). Local vegan chef Laura "Lou" Mustachio helms the kitchen, which offers familiar pub fare including sandwiches, hearty plates, and bar snacks. It’s also a boon for craft beer aficionados with 30 beers on tap.
Watson had been anticipating his first visit to Beer Plant. Unfortunately, the kitchen delivered a memorable meal for all the wrong reasons:
Not to paint with too much gloss, but my first visit was the worst dining experience I had in 2016 – by leaps and bounds the worst. It was the kind of worst that, for a critic, almost crosses over into damn good time. Much of that had to do with the staff, who were almost acrobatic in their ability to glide over our portion of the bar while tending to clusters of their friends (and at least one on-the-clock server) on either side.”
Watson also pegged the disappointment on the intensely loud and dark space, the overpowering smell of peppermint in the air, and an underwhelming cocktail. The stumbles continued to the menu but were less jarring — from barely cooked carrots to Hops & Chips that didn’t live up to the hype.
Luckily, things improved upon Watson’s second visit — most notably with the food —causing the critic to deduce that the problem from the first visit was not with chef Mustachio's menu, but the execution of it. The Ploughman's Plate featured rustic house sourdough with accompaniments that all earned praise. The buffalo cauliflower wings dish was dubbed an “unqualified success.” Watson also complimented the Reubenesque and winter vegetable pie.
Watson concluded with a warning:
Even the more niche vegan dining scene is becoming crowded, so every meal counts. The packed dining room and contradictory standards right now make the Beer Plant seem to be an employee's paradise. Once the novelty wears off, they will need to focus more fully on the customers.
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