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

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Brasserie 292 - Poughkeepsie, NY

Brasserie 292
292 - 294 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

(Phn) 845-473-0292
Lunch: Monday - Friday
Dinner: 7 Days
Sunday Brunch
After decades of being culinarily deprived, Poughkeepsie's city center is suddenly awash in wonderful dining destinations. The Artist's Palate established the beachhead, along with Crave, and then Bull & Buddha and Karma Lounge, and now Brasserie 292 - all in walking distance of each other. 
Some will define a brasserie as a bistro with beer taps. They came to popularity in nineteenth century Paris, run by Alsatian expatriates, and offered the food – and beers – of that region near the German border. Brasser means brewer – and early brasseries did focus on the beer, but more modern versions now pay just as much attention to their wine list. Authentic brasseries offer the comfort food of Alsace, dishes like choucroute garnie and boudin sausage, and escargot a l'Alsacienne and Kassler – cured pork with a smoke finish. It is, without question, my favorite style of cooking, and my favorite type of restaurant. Finally, we have our own brasserie right here on Main Street, Poughkeepsie, and a very fine one at that.
The brasserie concept was actually a Plan B for the partners, who considered a few different formats first. General Manager Chris Crocco, who holds court in the dining room, worked at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain and Mesa Grill in New York. His brother Dan, who runs the kitchen, has his own culinary CV, including stints with James Beard winner Melissa Kelly at Primo in Rockland ME, and our friends Eddie and Lucia Lauria at Aroma Osteria. They are joined in this enterprise by Alex Serroukas, whose local establishments include the Double O Grill's in Rhinebeck and Wappingers, and The Standard at Crossgates in Albany. This new venture is a stretch for all of them; stylisticly a brasserie is like nothing they have done before.

The look and feel of Brasserie 292 is, well, a brasserie. This is the real deal, complete with a “blade” neon sign, lots of stainless, and black and white patterned tile-work, and period looking milk glass lighting. Our new favorite bartender, Leia, will be waiting for you just inside the door, polishing her white marble bar-top. The main dining room seats eighty in a mix of banquettes and two tops that can be strung together for larger parties. It is an efficient use of too little space, and is complemented by a smaller row dining room alongside which can squeeze in another two dozen patrons.

Our Wednesday Night Dinner Crew stopped in last week on what was actually their opening night. The menu is printed in a bistro type set used a century ago, and goes nicely with the d├ęcor. I was thrilled to see so many brasserie classics listed. Onion soup ($7) leads off on the menu, followed by steak tartare ($11/$18) and my favorite - escargot. I stole a fork-full of the tartare from my dining companion. It was a nice portion of chopped tenderloin, assertively seasoned with back pepper, Worcestershire and mustard, and flecks of cornichon pickles and served with slices of baguette. Very nicely done. My escargot was served in the shell, doused with a little garlic butter and parsley sauce, and offered up with a pair of slightly too small snail tongs, which were a little too tight to handle properly. I had visions of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and wondered if my snail shells were going to end up across the dining room in Denise Chickery's lap. (They behaved and stayed put and were quite tasty.)

The menu also lists a raw bar offering daily specials of clams on the half shell, or oysters, which will rotate according to availability, along with crab salad ($14) and shrimp cocktail ($12). An appetizer special reminded me of a similar dish prepared in a similar fashion at an old favorite haunt - La Rive Restaurant in Catskill, now long shuttered. A prepared salt cod – baccala - is blended with seasoned potato, and served in a crock as a spread. It is what baguettes were created for. This kitchen's version was great. Another bistro / brasserie classic is the Belgian staple – moules frites ($14), nicely done here, especially the frites. Twice cooked, I think, crispy and delicious and what french fries should taste like. The juicy plump mussels were served in a white wine and butter bath, laced with some smoked ham bits, fresh and sweet and tasty. We washed all of this down with a few bottles of a white Bordeaux, a Chateau Jacquet, very reasonably priced at $26, and a red Petalos, from a great producer, Alvaro Palacios, for $38.

We tried a plate of duck confit ($24), nicely cured and crisped before service, another classic dish that I will look forward to ordering again. A pan seared salmon, was served on a bed of wilted spinach ($23). The menu also offered a roasted cod ($23) or a tuna steak seared au Poivre ($25). The menu lists a daily special for each day of the week - bouillabaisse ($26) on Friday, cassoulet ($20) on Monday, and a whole roast chicken, served for two diners on Wednesday's ($20 per person).

All in all, for a first night's effort the place passed with flying colors. In fact, the greatest compliment that I can give the place is that if I had not known it was their first night open, I never would have guessed it. Our server, Kayleigh, was attentive and charming, and put up with our antics. Everyone else in the dining room chipped in on an as needed basis, which suggested that they had some extensive training before the opening – and also that they were probably pooling tips, which in my book always improves the service. To say that Brasserie 292 is a welcome addition to the Poughkeepsie dining scene would be something of an understatement. We liked everything about the place and will certainly be back soon.

If you do stop in please let our other readers know about your visit in the comments section.
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Hudson Valley Wine Goddess said...

Sounds good! I will have to try it.

Robin | My Melange said...

OMG. I am salivating all over my keyboard. I have been waiting patiently for them to open. I love a good French brasserie - and to have one, a GREAT one, within walking distance makes me jump for joy.