BY COL. ANDREW J. SMITH
Not long ago I was traveling up Route 303 in Valley Cottage and abruptly noticed that the landmark eatery, “The Pie Man”, which was there for more than a generation, was no longer there. I decided that soon I had to find out what happened. Well, today was the day so I dropped in which is now named, “Brookside Tavern and Smokehouse”. I was early so I had the chance to chat with the help. The very cheerful Austen informed me that it was still under the same management as the Pie Man but the owners just decided maybe six months ago to completely revamp the format and converted to BBQ.
As they opened I had decided on my choices so I began with the totally new to me friend pickles which I had heard of but never tried before. For my main I had my seltzer and lemon wedge with their pulled pork platter with French fries and their house coleslaw. I had thought of having their special of the day cheese steak but I had had that the night before somewhere so went for the pulled pork.
My friend pickles came before I knew it and they were different from what I had expected. They were in what I think was an Italian spiced batter, nicely crispy, with a western-spiced dip. I found them tasty and held the batter as I swirled them in the dip without coming loose which often happens and that loses my respect as it should cling to the core until you chew it. So it passed the test. But I have to say that now, just as I have a long-running contest with whose Cobb salad is the best (which was on the menu here by the way but I’ll save it for another day), now I have to find out who has the best fried pickles.
So as I was finishing my pickles the equally helpful and friendly Sam who educated me on their variety of BBQ sauces which I put to good use on my main course. It arrived and I can report that the pulled pork was Kansas City styled with the sweet sauce. The fries appeared to be hand-cut as they were very large and differently formed rather than the uniform packaged fries are. The slaw was very nice with just the right amount of sugar and celery seed.
All in all I enjoyed my experience there as I did getting to know the very cordial help. It was clean and the new design was tastefully done. The entire meal cost $26.55 and was well worth it. So stop by there next time you pass nearby and tell them I sent you and that I’ll be back soon.