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.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
The Village Tea Room, New Paltz, NY
10 Plattekill Ave.
New Paltz, NY
Now before you go rolling your eyes about a Tea Room and Bake Shop on Rambler, rest assured that the purpose of the post is not to tell you about their afternoon teas with finger sandwiches and cookies and scones. (which I'm sure are just great.) The content of the post is true to the Rambler mission ~ to seek out quality, farm fresh, "bistro style" meals, to enjoy with a decent glass of wine, in comfortable surroundings, for a reasonable fare. Read on...
The restaurant is hidden away one block south of 299 in a historic wood frame building that once housed the village tailor shop. It has the look and feel of nineteenth century roadhouse, with a small dining room and kitchen on the first floor, and a second dining room upstairs for busy nights. An outdoor patio supplies much needed additional seating during the summer months. Two college age servers worked the floor on Tuesday night. The setting and the decor is a simple "country casual", and absolutely charming. In addition to putting out six days of breakfast, lunch & dinner, the ambitious proprietor - one Agnes Devereux - also serves afternoon tea. Oh yes, in her spare time she also does catering. The bake shop opens at 8 AM weekdays and 9 AM on Saturday and Sunday. The website boasts a long list of local farms and markets where Ms. Devereux sources her recipe's ingredients. It will only take the experience of one meal for diners to appreciate her dedication to quality.
We arrived a little early for our 6:30 reservation, and were seated at one of four French country farm tables in the first floor dining room. Our foursome started with a bottle of Paul Dolan Sauvignon Blanc, also available by the glass. Appetizers included an offering of mixed green salad ($7) which was served with a shallot vinaigrette dressing and available with Ewe's blue cheese or Nettle Meadow goat cheese (from Thurman NY, for an additional $2) The salad could easily serve as a meal in itself, especially with the added cheese options. Ms. Devereux uses Murray's Chicken local farm system in Pennsylvania for her chicken liver pate, which was right up there with the best I've tasted. Served with a sweet red onion marmelade, cornichons and course mustard, I made myself a half dozen little finger sandwiches on the toasted baguette slices that accompanied the plate.
Entree selections rotate to reflect what is popping up in the garden. Last week we were offered a roast half chicken ($23), also from Murray's, served with apple chutney. Fish cakes ($21) served with a side of green beans and basmatti rice infused with cardamon. My favorite was a fantastic confit of duck. The hindquarter was classically prepared, aged in duck fat until the meat was just ready to fall off the bone, but held intact by a skin re-fired to a perfect crisp complexion, with just a kiss of seasoning. Just a peck on the cheek; not enough to mask the full aged flavor of the duck. What made this dish truly special was the fact that the best part was not the duck itself - as wonderful as it was - but a small crock of baked white Tuscan style cannellini beans served on the side. It was just spectacular - finished with a salty pecorino sheep's milk cheese melted in at the last minute to finish the dish. I asked our server if she could convince the kitchen to share the recipe. She suggested I e-mail Ms. Devereux, which I did was soon as I arrived home. The next morning it was in my mailbox, and I'll share it with you at the end of the post with strong encouragement to give it a try.
The ladies took advantage of the in house bakery to order a home made dessert, the week's special - a lemon raspberry layer cake with coconut frosting. Yum, and a perfect ending to a great meal.
Here's the bean recipe ~