The Malt House – A Surprisingly Good American Tavern You Can Afford

The next time you are in the NYU area and crave a great hamburger, a glass of beer and other American munchies (chicken wings, onion rings, etc.), stop by The Malt House. You won’t be disappointed.

2The Malt House Exterior

3The Malt House Interior

Opened by two Irishmen four years ago –and so successful that a two-floor second branch opened in the Financial District eight months ago — The Malt House serves the kind of American comfort food that goes with sports nights, meeting friends after work or over the weekend for brunch. Chef Armando Avila hails from STK and 5 Napkin Burger, and he’s put together an enticing menu.

4Onion Rings

5Cheese Curds

6Chicken Wings

At a recent press tasting the outstanding appetizers were the Battered Onion Rings with a wonderful bacon flavor ($11). It was hard to stop scarfing them down. The only reason I stopped was to try the amazing Panko fried Cheddar Cheese Curds ($11). Instead of landing with a thud, as some cheese curds often due, they were light and airy and went down like butter. Only my fear of cholesterol overload kept me from mainlining them. The ample portion of spicy BFG Wings (Baked Fried and Grilled) with Roquefort Sauce was tasty, although I prefer my wings a bit more crisp ($12).

7Steamed Mussels

8Malt House Burger

9Mahi Mahi Tacos

A huge pot of steamed mussels was served to us as an appetizer, but portion was meal sized. The excellent mussels were steamed in a sophisticated and satisfying sauce – a mix of roasted tomatoes, garlic, chorizo, herbs and white wine ($19). For anyone watching calories, this would be the entrée to choose.

But my absolute favorite main course was the Malt House Burger – a juicy, tasty mix of chuck, brisket and short rib topped with onion marmalade, pickles, smoked bacon, lettuce, red onion and Queso cheese ($16). Amazing! And I’m not really a burger person. But this one was irresistible. I also liked the accompanying chunky cut fries with sea salt.

The Mahi Mahi tacos were also excellent – soft tortillas layered with black beans, cilantro, tomatillo relish and sour cream over a good-sized portion of fish ($15). In the past, I’ve found fish tacos a bit of a disappointment, but these hit the spot. Definitely try them.

10Mac & Cheese with Barbecued Chicken

11Steak Sandwich and Salad

12Malt House Salad with Grilled Chicken

Unfortunately, the Mac & Cheese ($12) with BBQ Chicken didn’t work ($+4)). The barbecue tasted like it came out of a bottle and overwhelmed the Mac & Cheese below. The menu offers different Mac & Cheese toppings, including Bacon, Lobster and Truffle Oil. I would go with the Truffle Oil. Sometimes simple is best.

Similarly, the open-faced Steak Sandwich, with Gruyere Cheese on top, was a big disappointment ($16). The steak was tough. And the Gruyere didn’t add much in the way of taste satisfaction. Others liked it better than I did.

But I did like the restaurant’s Malt House Salad ($12), a mix of tiny greens with a good balsamic dressing. You can add grilled chicken, steak or lobster. While our grilled chicken was okay, it was nothing special. If I had my choice, I’d order it plain as a side dish to go with the Malt Burger.

13Blackboard with Beers of the Day

As you may have gathered, food at The Malt House is highly spiced and extremely rich, which is why it goes so well with beer, whether it’s your favorite craft beer (mostly $7 a bottle and a few much higher) or a Beer Flight ($10). There are also Whiskey Flights ($28), and a reasonable selection of moderately priced wines ($9 –11 a glass) plus cocktails.

Happy Hour (Monday –Friday, 4 – 7 PM) is a great after work option, with $4 – $5 draft beers, and Oysters $1 a piece, among other food choices at bargain prices. So is the Malt House’s “Bottomless Brunch.”

14Crème Brule & Cheese Cake

The desserts ($9 each) were adequate, with Cheese Cake a bit better than the Crème Brule. But who really needs dessert with this kind of menu?

Bottom line: The Malt House is a surprisingly good American tavern at prices you can afford. My only caveat is that as the night progresses, it gets noisier. But it’s an exposed-brick, cavernous bar and large side room, so noise pretty much goes with the territory. If this is your type of scene, you’ll love it. If you prefer less noise, arrive early.

Hours: Lunch/Dinner   12 Noon – Midnight, Mon.- Fri.
Dinner               4 PM – Midnight, Sat. – Sun.
Brunch               11 AM – 4 PM, Sat. – Sun.
Happy Hour        4PM – 7 PM, Mon. – Fri
Wine Nights        7 PM – Midnight, Sun.- Mon. (1/2 price on bottles of wine)

The Malt House
206 Thompson Street (Between Third and Bleecker)

Photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag

About Eleanor Foa Dienstag (36 Articles)
Eleanor Foa Dienstag is a veteran author, journalist, photo-journalist and award-winning corporate writer. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, the New Republic, the New York Observer, Ms., Travel & Leisure, and many other websites and publications. Eleanor is the author of three books. Her most recent, available on Amazon and Centro Primo Levi is MIXED MESSAGES: Reflections on an Italian Jewish Family and Exile. It is a multi-layered memoir about Eleanor’s personal journey, her father’s exile from Fascist Italy and the Foa Family journey, whose Italian-Jewish roots go back to the 1500s in northern Italy where her ancestors were famous printers. WHITHER THOU GOEST: The Story of an Uprooted Wife, also a memoir, was acclaimed by Business Week for its insights into corporate life. Her third book, In Good Company: 125 Years At The Heinz Table, offered a unique view of a quintessential American company. Eleanor served as staff speechwriter to the Chairman and CEO of American Express. In 1983, she founded Eleanor Foa Associates ( It provides a wide variety of corporate writing and marketing services. Eleanor is past president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), received speechwriting awards from IABC, and was awarded literary residencies at Yaddo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). She resides in Manhattan.