Ever since venerable Germantown neighborhood favorite The Mad Platter closed at the end of 2016 after more than a quarter century, locals have been wondering what would (or could) take the place of the casual eatery. Now we have the answer, and it’s a good one! Mother’s Ruin is the second outpost of a popular NYC restaurant and bar, and early returns seem to indicate that it will fit in just fine in Germantown.
The name of the restaurant is a reference to an ancient nickname for gin, and spirits are an important part of the plan at Mother’s Ruin. The owners have made a point of hiring very experienced bartenders and furthering their training so that they can break free of the exacting jigger measuring that many mixologists obsess over. This isn’t to say that the staff at Mother’s Ruin don’t intend to make quality consistent cocktails. On the contrary, they train to be able to free pour exacting quantities of spirits, a talent that has been lost in many bars. This allows them to work much faster to handle the volume of orders coming across the bar.
Another simplifying tactic is that the bar menu at Mother’s Ruin usually only features a few cocktails on an ever-changing list. While the bartenders will certainly mix up anything you ask for, providing they have the ingredients on hand, this mutable menu encourages patrons to visit often to see what’s new and seasonal on the creative cocktail list. Plus, it adds to the fun of the whole experience, and fun is the number one goal of the whole staff.
The main drinking and drinking room is on the ground floor of what was once a house before being converted into a restaurant, and the atmosphere is genuinely homey. Patrons gather around the bar and at small tables designed to encourage close conversation. Exposed brick and dark wood floors are illuminated by appropriately dim lighting to create a cozy vibe, which is familiar to fans of the previous occupants of the building. The long bar is 12 yards long, offering plenty of room to bend an elbow. The upstairs was once the owners’ residence and has been converted into a private dining space that may be available for overflow crowds on busy night once the team gets their legs under them.
The food menu is intentionally limited and unpretentious, but the small details definitely make it worth your consideration. Signature items include Mother’s Double Cheeseburger served with old bay waffle fries. Those delicious fries have been named the best in New York City, pretty high praise when you consider the competition. Another power order is their loaded shrimp roll studded with celery and drizzled with creole dressing. Elevated bar snacks include charred eggplant dip with pine nuts and exotic Ethiopian berbere spices and craveable Cholula honey chicken wings served with maytag blue cheese dressing, carrots and celery.
One way to ingratiate yourself with new neighbors is through consistent availability. Mother’s Ruin aims to be the neighborhood watering hole and a favorite of hospitality industry professionals looking for a late night spot, so they are committed to staying open until 2:00 am, 365 days a year. (Start making your escape plans now for next Thanksgiving and Christmas after the family heads home!) “An inviting bar experience paired with tasty food at a reasonable price; that’s our intention,” says Chef/Partner Nick Pfannerstill. “We strive to be the place where anyone can come three to four times a week, whether grabbing coffee, boozy brunch, or just bringing friends by for a night cap and some snacks.”
Although the New York Mother’s Ruin is open for lunch, Nashville’s edition currently serves first call at 5:00 pm, but expanded hours and brunch service may well be in their future plans. Until then, hit the doors right after work to make sure you can find a spot to join in the fun!
Barbecue Pitmaster International Consultant.
I am an Italian chef turned Texas BBQ expert. My journey started at Franklin BBQ in Austin, TX where I ate my first ever brisket. This experience would later change my whole life and cooking style.
I began cooking barbecue at Kerlin BBQ, where Pitmaster Bill Kerlin (nominated for Best BBQ in the U.S.) taught me everything I needed to know about smoking meats. After intense two years living in a trailer next to a pit, I began collaborations in Italy and the U.S. with different barbecue venues.
Later on, while working at LORO Asian Smokehouse in Austin, I met Aaron Franklin, experience which led me to be hired as a Cutter and Pitmaster at Franklin BBQ.
In early 2019, I was elected #1 Pitmaster at Brisket King NYC™ annual event.