Food

Chow Down on American Tavern Fare and History at the Malt House Financial District

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Before weary travelers flocked to trendy gastropubs, rough-and-tumble roadhouses, and strip-mall sports bars, there was the American tavern. A source for ales, home cooking, and political trivia, the all-welcoming local tavern helped launch dining in the colonies. That history is front and center at the newly opened Malt House Financial District (9 Maiden Lane; 646-682-7577).

Darren Shore and Eoin Foyle loved the financial district, and knew they wanted to open a modern tavern in the neighborhood, but couldn’t find a space that fit their concept. After opening the first Malt House location in Greenwich Village and experiencing success, the duo set their sights on creating another all-welcoming pad, but with extra amenities added on for good measure.

After securing their larger space in the FiDi, the owners had multiple floors to play with. They opted to divide the Malt House into sections designed for any kind of diner who walks through the door. “We just wanted to be a tavern,” Shore says. “We’re both Irish — we didn’t want to do an Irish bar. We wanted to do all-American.”

The main floor features picnic tables for group dining as well as smaller tables for couples, while the bar offers a massive beer list and plenty of conversation for solo diners looking to learn more about the magic of hops. “The Board Room,” located on the second floor, offers a private room for business meetings and parties, complete with a private bar.

And the basement reveals something entirely new: The Armory, a pseudo-speakeasy with dark red leather couches and framed American flags (each with its own story), serves craft cocktails like old-fashioneds and American mules, although guests will still be able to find plenty of Irish and Scottish whiskey.

Larger plates include striped bass and a rib eye steak, although generous portion sizes are evident throughout the menu. True, the history books of yore might not account for salads as a colonial-era staple, but there are four to choose from here.