Welcome to our list of favorite dining destinations in New York's Hudson Valley and Adirondack regions. We visit restaurants, wineries, barbecues, and a smattering of off the beaten path culinary destinations like maple sugar shacks and fromageries. My friends and I have been dining out together weekly for over twenty years. The locations we write about are our favorite destinations. We are not claiming they are the best, just our favorites. The posts are not "reviews" in the classic sense. - we offer only our picks, not pans. We will leave the criticism to others. We are a happy blog. We much prefer a good bistro to "haute cuisine", especially if they also have a nice bar. We prefer a crock of cassoulet and a bottle of Beaujolais to just about anything else. If you enjoy simple home style rustic cooking with a decent (but not too expensive) bottle of wine, then pull up a chair and join us.

This Month's "Well Said!"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

Ferran Andria

Friday, April 9, 2010

36 Main Restaurant & Wine Bar, New Paltz, NY

36 Main, New
Paltz, NY
Phone: 845 255 3636

June 2012 Update ~ 36 Main has been sold.  The restaurant is closed for renovations, and will reopen later this summer.  

Summer Hours
Open 7 days from 5 PM
Winter Hours
Wednesday through Sunday from 5 PM
I knew that I was going to like 36 Main as soon as I glanced at the black board listing of wine specials. Many of my favorites were listed. All around the perimeter of the dining room were more wines on display and above the back bar rows of wine bottles peer down on the customers. I don’t think Kathy Combs, the proprietor of 36 Main should pigeon hole herself by describing the place as a “wine bar” but it is certainly one of her strong suits. Too many wine bars don’t have a kitchen worth mentioning, but that is definitely not the case at 36 Main. The official wine list is always a work in progress, but focuses on good quality affordable selections. There are a few Burgundies there, but they actually seem out of place among the South American Malbecs and Spanish Albarinos and Riojas, all very reasonably priced. My white wine of choice to serve at home – a DuBoeuf Macon Village is offered by the glass for $6, or $22 for the bottle. I pay $11 per bottle retail so the markup is most reasonable. I really appreciate it when a place goes out of its way to offer a selection of good quality, reasonably priced wines by the glass. If anyone asks me to suggest a really good inexpensive red, I always go with Concha Y Toro. You can spend $100 for a single vineyard premium Concha, but their “jug wine” – Frontera - is a great “house” red. Here they offer it by the glass for $5. You can’t go wrong with that. You can move up the ladder a little bit to one of my favorite Beaujolais – a Moulin au Vent from Jadot for $36 or an Estancia Reserve Meritage for $45. Charles Krug is the most popular name on the list currently. Kathy plans on doing a tasting of Charles Krug wines with dinner at 36 Main this Thursday evening, April 15. In total sixty selections are offered, not counting specials. Thirty five were priced under $40. That’s reason enough to stop by and we haven’t mentioned the food yet.
My Wednesday night troops and I like to seek out “bistro style” neighborhood restaurants that offer the style of cooking that your mother would cook on Sunday (especially if you grew up on a farm in the Basque Region of Spain). Traditional family style “peasant food” - cassoulet or paella; not mocha dipped yearling scallops topped with crustacean foam. You get the drift. Adam Sternberg, the chef at 36 Main, may take his kitchen to places your mother never dared to go, but the menu is still grounded in the fundamentals. Appetizers include a seared foie gras ($15), served with apple and chestnut tortellini. Last week I tried the crispy pork shanks ($9) fried and tossed in a very spicy smoked Thai chili sauce, not unlike a fancy spicy chicken wing, only better. Last week the kitchen had some yellow fin tuna, which was offered as a sashimi appetizer, or seared as an entree. We had a serving of each for the table and both were spectacular. The calamari ($10) is worth trying. Dredged in graham cracker, and served with a sweet chili and cucumber garlic sauce. At first it sounded like it shouldn’t work, but it does.
I’ve tried the grilled veal chop ($28) a few times, finished with a marsala and wild mushroom reduction and served with shoestring potatoes. I like to order a side of broccoli rabe ($5) with this dish. The pan roasted Atlantic salmon ($25) is served with a shrimp risotto, which sometimes appears as a special on its own which is worth watching for.
In addition to a very nice wine list and a solid menu and kitchen, 36 Main has the little extra touches that make a place memorable. You are started off with a great basket of bread, which I believe is from Bread Alone in Phonecia. (If you get to the olive bread before your dining companions notice it, you can avoid an argument later.) A family style tossed salad is offered between courses. The staff is competent and professional, but more importantly they seem to really enjoy what they are doing. Waitresses that are not waiting on you will come over to say hello and ask how everything is. Theresa, who minds the bar more often than not when we stop in, always has a smile and always remembers what wines we like. It’s a fun place to visit in a comfortable, casual setting. Add good food, a nice bottle of wine, a table out on the patio, and you have the makings of a wonderful evening. We highly recommend it.
In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I am friends with the owner of 36 Main. I am also friends with many, if not most of the restaurant owners that appear in this blog. This is a list of my favorites. When you eat at someone’s restaurarant regularly for years you become friends. You’re supposed to. If not, you’re both doing something wrong. In this case, we were friends first. I still like the place. So there. I feel better now.
36 Main on Urbanspoon

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