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89th And Broke

I'm a young professional living in Astoria (formerly of Williamsburg, the UES and Murray Hill - I move a lot!). I'm always looking for something fun to do or the best place to grab a drink and dinner at an affordable price around the city. Have a suggestion? Email me at Laura AT 89thandbroke DOT com.

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Do I Taste Hormel Chili?

I knew it was going to be a long day when I suggested to my friend Doug that we should get nachos after work – and it was only 9:30 a.m.  While the Wharf is usually our go-to nacho spot, we decided to try some place new.  After a little research, Doug found the Waterfront Ale House and we figured some place that would name their nachos the “Super Nacho Platter” had to be good.

After working in the Murray Hill area for almost two years, we all were a little surprised that none of us had ever heard of this bar before.  Once we walked in though, we knew why this place wasn’t in our usual bar rotation – we were the youngest people by far in the bar.  It also was more of a restaurant than a bar, with families coming in with young children for dinner.  We quickly got a table and snacked on the free popcorn.  Unforunately, the wait staff wasn’t very proactive about refilling our popcorn bowl, which I was a little disappointed about.  We ordered our nacho platter with sour cream on the side, and I also got the beer of the week.  I can’t remember the exact beer I had (it was a Goose Island), but I liked that they had a decent beer special ($5) and exposed me to something other than a Bud Light or Blue Moon (when I’m feeling classy).  

Finally the nachos arrived and immediately, I could tell they weren’t super.  I could easily polish these off on my own and Doug was already making arrangements for us to make a second stop for nachos at the Wharf.  The nachos were covered in chili, jalapenos, olives, tomatoes and cheese, but unfortunately this was dumped all in the middle, so several chips did not have any toppings on them.  Doug quickly made a comment that this was canned chili on top of the nachos and was annoyed that there was huge chunks of tomatoes.  While I liked that the chips were crunchy and not soggy, I constantly had to make my own nachos by pulling cheese off certain chips, breaking it in half and placing in on naked chips.  Way too much work.  If the toppings were evenly spread in a layered format, I wouldn’t have to do all this work.  The whole platter could have used more toppings though – except for the chili.  I felt like I was eating half a can of Hormel chili (wait, is that a kidney bean in my nachos?), when I wanted more olives, more peppers and more tomatoes.  And while we didn’t eat sour cream, Doug and I both noticed that it didn’t look like sour cream – but more like ranch dressing or blue cheese.

While these nachos weren’t the worst I’ve ever had (I am happy this place actually used real cheese), I won’t be ordering nachos from Waterfront Ale House anytime soon.

Guest Post by Doug Feingold, Columbia Correspondent

Discovering great nachos is like winning a title belt – while they should be honored and celebrated (i.e. eaten frequently), they also must defend their championship on a semi annual basis. Thus, after a few months of the Wharf parading around the city as number one, we decided to identify a new number one contender -the Waterfront Ale House. After seeing a few comments on other blogs commend the nachos at the Ale House, we decided it was worthy for a match. Unfortunately, as soon as I tasted some strange combination of tortilla chip and bbq sauce, the Ale House hit the mat – the ref reached ten – and it was over. Wharf in a round one knock out.

First off, I’m not sure what was in that side dish. They claimed it was sour cream, but it looked more like a ranch or chive dip. Whatever it was, I wanted nothing to do with it. Second, it broke my main rule – a proper chip to topping ratio, hopefully with each chip receiving at least some manner of toping. In this case, the toppings were grouped in the middle. While the contingency scenario was in effect – enough topping for each chip to receive some in a dip – that was easier said than done. Grabbing just one chip to dip was not an option. Instead, the chips were stuck together via melted cheese. At times we were forced to grab like three or four chips stuck together and take a mouthful of tortilla. If that’s what I wanted, I would have bought a fifty cent bag of Doritos and called it a night.

The worst part of all though was the topping themselves. The menu hinted that these nachos were unique because the toppings were composed of a thick chili base. However, this chili tasted like it was straight from a Hormel can, drenched in Kraft barbeque sauce. It was such a strong taste that it covered up everything else on the plate. I cannot even remember what else was present.

In the end, the nachos entered the ring with a giant entourage and lots of buzz. Once the crowd settled in their seats though, they couldn’t even land a jab. Titles are meant to be defended, but I think the Wharf will be going on an extended victory tour this time around.

The Basics
Name: Waterfront Ale House
Location: 540 2nd Ave between 29th and 30th 
Who to bring: Anyone over 45
Price: Typical NYC for nachos. $$.
Overall: 2 stars.  Crunchy chips aren’t a reason to come back.

Waterfront Alehouse on Urbanspoon

1 comment to Do I Taste Hormel Chili?

  • Caryn

    Fear not, friends. I stopped by the Wharf last night and already told Riley that we’d possibly be there on Friday for a quick happy hour drink. And by “we” I mean I plan on being there, please come so I don’t drink alone. We can be in nacho heaven in just two days.

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