A new pop-up series in New York City is centered around beer that is paired with novel plant-based food concepts. Aptly called “&Beer,” the idea comes from Overthrow Hospitality, restaurateur Ravi DeRossi’s group that continues to infuse NYC with exciting plant-based concepts.
This month, the series kicked off with Mushroom & Beer, a concept helmed by chef Juan Pajarito—a former Line Cook and now Executive Chef at Overthrow’s vegan fine-dining concept Avant Garden. The chef crafted a dozen mushroom-centric dishes that feature produce grown by producers across New York.
“I’ve wanted to open a singularly focused mushroom restaurant for a very long time but have been told it was a ridiculous idea and finding a chef that wanted to as well was close to impossible,” DeRossi said in a statement.
“When I approached Chef Juan from Avant Garden, he was super excited. He’s one of the most brilliant chefs I’ve ever come across. When he said he was interested, I knew we had to do it.”
Mushrooms take center stage
During the Mushroom & Beer run for the spring/summer of 2023, chef Pajarito and DeRossi developed the menu concept from one signature dish at Avant Garden: the Hen of the Woods Mushroom, a complex dish with four different preparations of the mushroom that has been a best-seller at the fine-dining restaurant since it opened in 2015.
“We felt like this single dish could be expanded into a complete concept, after-all it was an impetus for turning our entire group vegan,” DeRossi said. “And with the rising popularity of mushrooms—both in food and pop culture—now felt like the perfect time to try.”
The menu features oyster mushrooms in a tempura beer batter served with ponzu hot sauce; beech mushrooms made decadent with cauliflower cheese and nori butter; and enoki mushrooms with smoked apple barbecue sauce.
The mushroom dish that inspired it all, the Hen of the Woods is served here with celery root puree, pickled hon shimeji, and rosemary.
A Lion’s Mane dish features the mushroom as part of a dumpling with daikon sauce and micro cilantro while the humble crimini gets spruced up with tomato cream sauce, garlic spinach ricotta, and basil oil.
What about dessert? The chef has you covered with a dish that incorporates black truffles and chocolate into ravioli that is served with blueberry sauce and vanilla ice cream.
And what about beer?
The new &Beer space is next door to another Overthrow concept, Proletariat, an English-style vegan craft beer bar that offers over 20 select drafts and a rotating list of hard-to-find bottles and cans.
This means that the pop-up will be supplied with a steady stream of brews curated by the group’s Beer Director Ramon Manrique Hung.
At the 14-seater &Beer, patrons can expect to find a rotating list of both local and European beers that range from sours, lagers, and hoppy brews. Currently on tap, Mushroom & Beer is serving Closer (an American Pale Ale from Root + Branch Brewing); It’s the Life (a Farmhouse Saison from Pen Druid Brewing); and Happy Medium (a Lager from Threes Brewing). A variety of bottled and canned beers are also available.
The & Beer space—which is kept intentionally minimalist with exposed brick walls and a wooden bar top—welcomes diners with a marquee-style front window that nods to the nature of the space, where tables act as the stage with new talent showcasing plant-based creations as the stars.
Overthrow’s vegan concepts
Co-founder of NYC’s cocktail destination Death & Company, DeRossi, a former visual artist, has always had an eye for great restaurant concepts. In 2016, the restaurateur vowed to transition as many of his then 15 restaurant holdings to be completely vegan to align with his own lifestyle.
Since then, his empire—which operates under the motto “eat, drink, start a revolution”— has grown to encompass a variety of creative concepts such as Ladybird (a tapas and wine bar that sits in the former space of Bourgeois Pig); Rabbit (an upscale concept with a storybook menu inspired by Alice in Wonderland); and Cadence (a soul food eatery that has climbed the ranks to one of Manhattan’s finest restaurants).
With &Beer DeRossi aims to continue infusing Overthrow (and NYC at large) with new concepts and talent, all the while further redefining what vegan food can be. On the deck for the &Beer—which will serve as a concept incubator—might be pop-ups centered around Egyptian and Chinese cuisines, sushi, or barbecue.