Clemson Bros. Brewery in Middletown, NY
By now, just about everyone in the Hudson Valley knows just how delicious and thirst-quenching the craft beers are at Clemson Brothers Brewery in Middletown, New York.
However, the mouth-watering food that comes out of the kitchen at Clemson is now turning more than a few heads. Their menu is something that is definitely worth making a trip to the brewery, even if you're not particularly enamored with beer.
You'll enjoy a tremendous meal, share good conversation with family and friends as well as a fantastic ambiance. Date night never, ever had it so good! And, with two spacious dining areas, there's seldom an issue dealing with long lines.
The force behind a great menu is having a great chef on the premises; someone who considers it an honor and privilege to cook for you, the customer.
Clemson Brothers Brewery is lucky to have just such a culinary professional on hand, in the person of Master Chef, Seth Antona.
During his fifteen years working in the food-service industry, chef Seth Antona has pretty much seen and done it all. Having worked various positions from busser, dishwasher and line cook to server and bartender, there's not a whole lot that can faze Seth.
Hard working and innovative, Seth knows just how to handle the high-intensity pressure that comes with being head chef at one of the most popular gastropubs and breweries in the Hudson Valley. It may not be rocket science, but being the captain of the Clemson Brothers Brewery kitchen brigade is not exactly a piece of cake, either.
A rock-solid chef has to have the right personality to bring out the best in his crew. That's number one. Great organizational skills and time management also play a vital role in keeping the ship running smoothly.
Bringing a ton of energy, ingenuity and leadership to the team at Clemson Brothers Brewery, Chef Antona commenced his culinary journey with a part-time gig at a local catering hall in Orange County.
Thrown in at the deep end, Seth had to learn how to sink or swim fast, since the banquet and catering facility hosted an endless array of weddings, birthday and corporate functions.
After several other stops along the Hudson Valley bar and restaurant trail, Seth eventually worked his way up to the position of sous-chef at Carmine's Italian-American Restaurant in Port Jervis N.Y.
Seth credits Carmine's executive chef and owner, Keith O'Connor, with taking him under his wing and teaching Seth a great deal about different cooking techniques and the nuances of various International cuisines.
Seth was working as the sous chef at the First Class Club at West Point when he heard about a possible job opportunity at Middletown's Clemson Brothers Brewery.
After interviewing with owner Kenan Porter, Seth landed the position of sous chef in October 2017. After six months, he was promoted to head chef and, as they say, the rest is history.
Chef Antona's flair for giving his own unique spin on classic pub fare has made Clemson Brothers a must-try spot for, not only craft beer lovers but hard-core foodies, as well.
But, the funny thing is, though, that Seth Antona's initial career goals were not in the kitchen but, the classroom, of all places!
" I've always loved cooking and being in my family's kitchen, helping out with meals," explained Seth.
" However, at first, I considered it to be just a fun hobby. My focus was on going to school to become a history teacher and make a difference in the lives of our young people. But, with encouragement from my future wife, I fully realized my passion for the industry and decided to pursue cooking as a career."
Aplez.com asked the chef what gave him the most satisfaction about being a chef and what are his biggest challenges in the kitchen at Clemson.
" As a chef, I am driven by the gratifying feeling of being able to create dishes that make people happy. It's all about the flavor blends and creating a dish that people remember fondly long after they have enjoyed it at our table."
" As far as challenges, I would have to say that it is always a fine line between keeping up with the latest food trends while also finding the time to develop my own fresh ideas and recipes. You never want to push the envelope too far over the edge where your food is not approachable. Yet, the main fear that almost any chef has is becoming stale."
Clemson Brothers Brewery debuted a revamped menu at the start of 2019. But, let's allow the chef to tell you about the changes in his own words.
"The new menu contains some of our established favorites as well as quite a few new dishes such as the Brew-tine Fries, our savory Rueben Burger and the Oh My Cod, which is fun to eat twist on your classic fish and chips dish, but made into a sandwich."
"And, by the way, I want to emphasize that our Brew-tine Fries are hand-cut and topped with Mozzarella cheese, shredded beef short rib and our signature Clemson Brown Ale gravy." "
"The goal here is to develop a seasonally-based menu, which will highlight select dishes that include the best flavors and ingredients of Spring, Summer and Fall."
A brand-new appetizer that's making considerable noise with the bar and happy hour crowd is the outrageous Black Dirt Onion Dip.
You will not be able to stop eating this dip, that's made with sour cream, scallions, Clemson stout, onions and Applewood smoked bacon. It comes with a side of homemade kettle chips.
Fear not, though, Pierogie fans; that ultimate plate of comfort food is STILL on Seth's men!
These savory dumplings make for a great change from the Mac and Cheese variations that one usually finds on most pub or brewery menus.
We asked the chef what inspired him to add this somewhat unusual dish to the menu.
Chuckling, Seth said that" I actually did not grow up eating Pierogies. In fact, I was introduced to them by my wife, when we met eleven years ago. They were a huge favorite in her family."
"When deciding to put them on the menu, I felt that Pierogies were a very underappreciated dish and that they would integrate well with the other dishes on my menu
"Here at Clemson, one of our goals is to stand out; to try to serve food that you can't find anywhere else."
Another old fave that returns to the menu is their classic French Onion soup which contains stout broth. The stout gives this warming bowl of soup a real taste kick. And, there's just the right amount of both Provolone and Swiss topping the broth. They don't skimp on the cheese, but there's not so much that it overwhelms the rest of the ingredients.
When looking over the menu, you'll see the words "house-made" come up all the time. There's a very good reason for that and it can be summed up in only one word; pride.
"We try to use as many in-house ingredients as possible including our whole-grain mustard. Most of our sauces and dressings are also made from scratch. You could say that this is the craft beer philosophy at work in ALL facets of the business."
There is a lot going on in the food that's being served here. We asked the chef how he manages to strike that delicate balance between familiarity and innovation.
"While I did not create the initial menu, over time I have been able to modify and fine-tune many of the dishes as well as add my own signature creations. I have always been passionate about food and craft beer."
" Working at Clemson has given me the chance to be able to combine those two areas of interest. That's one of the things that originally drew me here."
You'll be happy to know that chef Seth and the Clemson brand support local businesses.
They believe that a high tide truly does lift all boats and are very active in the surrounding community.
" I currently work with three different food purveyors as well as a neighborhood bakery for our bread deliveries. Being able to source ingredients from multiple vendors does so much for the quality of the food. it also helps to keep food costs down and ensures that I have what I need to make the best dishes possible."
You could say that the kitchen's mantra is "Hudson Valley Fresh"!
We could have easily continued our conversation for another hour, but Seth had to get back into his kitchen to prep for the dinner rush.
Before leaving, however, we were curious as to what kind of food Seth enjoys the most when he's off the clock and relaxing at home with his wife.
"I have a love for all types of seafood, specifically oysters and the science and benefits of aquaculture and oyster farming. While I love oysters in all their forms, simple raw oysters are my all-time favorite way to eat them. Nothing goes down better."
Seth told Aplez.com that he is also into comfort food and two of his go-to meals are his family recipe pot roast and braciole.
: I never get tired of eating them. Home cooking done right just doesn't get old."
The chef asked this writer to be sure to remind everyone that Clemson Brothers Brewery is now open seven days a week. So, there's even more time for you to kick back, celebrate and relish the moment!
Location and Hours
22 Cottage Street
Middletown N.Y. 10940
Sunday to Thursday 11 AM to 9 PM
Saturday and Sunday 11 AM to 12 AM