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No-Bull Burger Purist, born and raised in NJ, the heart of the tri-state area and home to the oldest (and best) burger joints in the country. I don't need all the frilly toppings, happy servers or trendy decor, just a good burger...

Friday, November 13, 2015

The 76 House Does it Again...

I've provided a brief history of the restaurant below the photos in case you are interested in "the tavern that opened it's doors before America became a country"...

The '76 House
110 Main St, Tappan, NY 10983
(845) 359-5476

#1 The "Thanksgiving" Turkey Baguette

#2 Home-Smoked Brisket Sandwich

Build #1 
Roasted turkey breast, chestnut stuffing and a dollop of cranberry aioli on an artisan cranberry and pecan baguette. 

Build #2
Home-smoked brisket served open-faced over Texas toast, topped with melted Gouda cheese and crispy fried onions.


The vintage '76 House is steeped in American history. Its 18th century structure, creaky wood plank floors, and rumors of the ghost of a Revolutionary War criminal all add to the '76 House charm. It can be said that structures like the '76 House define autumn in New York State.

This is a great time of year to visit the restaurant, with the quaint surrounding neighborhood trees changing colors amid the crisp cool air, and it’s just a few miles from Sleepy Hollow, home to the Headless Horseman. 

A bowl of their onion soup smothered in melted cheese accompanied by a light snowfall are the makings for a truly comforting meal.

On to the food...

The Thanksgiving Turkey Baguette is a sandwich that you don't come by often. Its simple, rustic ingredients are nothing less than a full Thanksgiving dinner that you can hold in your hands. With its fresh ingredients and incredible bread, this sandwich is one of my all-time favorites. (Check the close-up photos below).

The Home-Smoked Brisket Sandwich had awesome curb appeal, but the sauce fell short for me. Although the meat was smoked to near perfection and tender, the sauce was non-sweet vinegar-based (eastern North Carolina-type BBQ sauce), with a thin consistency and a very strong acidity to it, which actually prevented me from fully tasting the flavor of the meat. The other elements of the sandwich: frizzled onions, Gouda cheese and Texas toast, were very good and although I would have liked to have seen more melted Gouda to counteract the acidity of the sauce, I don't think a handful of cheese would have helped. Again, the ingredients of this open-faced sandwich are all perfectly matched, but the volume of the sauce needs to be turned down, way down.

On my next trip, I'll be reviewing their specialty burger, "The '76 Tavern Burger" which is a full 1/2 pound black Angus beauty smothered with caramelized onions, mushrooms, bacon and bordelaise and Swiss cheeses. 
It's such a beast, it comes with a steak knife and fork.

The "Thanksgiving" Turkey Baguette

Home-Smoked Brisket Sandwich

Today's outing was so interesting I've attached a brief history of The '76 House below. But this blog is first and foremost about burgers and the pursuit of finding better ones, and since this review does not include a burger, I'll leave it up to you, the reader, to decide if you have a few extra minutes to read on the background of such a cool historic tavern.

2013: My first review of The '76 House burger -

76 House Tavern History:
The oldest bar in the country was built by Dutch immigrants in 1668 and has been serving the public ever since. Because Tappan, in the Catskill Mountains just north of New York City, was an important place during the Revolutionary War, the Old ’76 House saw a number of famous guests, including George Washington himself. Its most notorious guest, however, was British spy, Major John Andre, who was jailed at the tavern and put on trial at the church across the street (he was subsequently hanged about two blocks away). This place is a must visit, not just for the history and excellent food, but also because part of the actual bar is still original. You can literally sit and drink at the same exact bar that George Washington once tipped back a few drinks of his own.

The Old '76 House is not simply one of America's oldest taverns. Built in 1668, The Old '76 House had a profound effect on the outcome of The Revolutionary War. Through its long use as a meeting place for patriots, The Old '76 House established itself as safe ground for Americans when the air was rife with revolution and the tavern itself served as the "prison" of the Revolution's most notorious spy, Major John Andre. That is why The Old '76 House is often referred to as "Andre's Prison", not a real prison, in fact never having been a place of incarceration for anyone before or since. On the contrary, The Old '76 House has been a haven for many a weary traveler for more than two hundred years. This great tavern has accommodated on various occasions, every General of the west wing of the Continental Army including Commander-in-Chief General George Washington who, with his chief provisioner Samuel Fraunces, dined in the comfortable atmosphere of The Old '76 House.

The story of Major Andre and Benedict Arnold is one strewn with deception, fateful remorse, and mortal consequences. It is also a story which could have changed the outcome of the Revolution. Andre, a charming, handsome, young man, was adjutant general to General Sir Henry Clinton, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in North America. Arnold was a brilliant and respected general as well as a great friend of General Washington.

General Benedict Arnold, having been severely reprimanded by Congress and, in fact, court martialed, had become embittered and ready to betray his country. Truly a brilliant general, he realized the strategic importance of West Point and, drawing on his longterm friendship with Washington, sought to secure the command of the fortress. Washington, who regretted the treatment and reprimand of Arnold, granted his request and thus Benedict Arnold was placed in a position to betray his country.

Arnold began to correspond secretly with General Clinton about his plan to let West Point fall into British hands. As a result, Clinton sent Major Andre up the Hudson in the British Sloop-of- War, Vulture, on September 20, 1780 to meet with Benedict Arnold. Andre was rowed ashore at the long cove just south of Haverstraw, where the two men conferred until sunrise. Their plans for the handing over of West Point still not complete, they rode on horseback to the home of Joshua Hett Smith, which stood on what is now known as Treason Hill. There it was agreed that Arnold should have one of the links removed from the great iron chain which stretched across the Hudson from West Point to King's Ferry to prevent the passage of British ships up the river. Arnold planned to replace the iron link with rope, on the pretext that the chain needed mending.

Plans were completed and Andre hid his papers, showing the fortifications of West Point and the placement of soldiers, between his "stockings and feet". Toward evening he asked to be rowed back to the Vulture, but Smith said it was too dangerous and persuaded Andre to cross the Hudson at Stony Point and proceed to the British lines by land. Near Tarrytown he was stopped by three American soldiers who discovered the incriminating papers and took him to the nearest commanding officer. From there he was taken to Tappan, where Washington had placed his headquarters, and imprisoned in The Old '76 House - then called Mabie's Inn.

After a trial in the Dutch Church in Tappan, a court of inquiry reported that Andre ought "to be considered a spy from the enemy and that, agreeable to the law and usage of nations, it is their opinion he ought to suffer death." He was marched up the hill to a gallows at noon on October 2, 1780. As he stood beneath the gibbet he said: "All I request gentlemen is that while I acknowledge the propriety of my sentence, you will bear me witness that I die like a brave man." In 1820 Andre's remains were brought to rest in Westminster Abbey, London where he is regarded as a hero. Benedict Arnold died in London in 1801, shunned by friend and foe alike.

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