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, February 27, 2011
1839 Central Ave.
Lunch & Dinner Monday through Saturday
On our weekly travels from the Hudson Valley to the Adirondacks we frequently find ourselves in the Albany area around lunch time. For many years we have looked (without success) for a family owned bistro style eatery with easy Northway access to frequent. I was intrigued by Daniel B.'s comments about a new place called Garden Bistro on FussyLittleBlog. My interest was piqued when an e-mail from Table Hopping's Steve Barnes at the Times Union confirmed that we should give it a try. Garden Bistro is just two miles west of Interstate 87, in a strip mall on Central Avenue (Route 5). It is without question the type of location that I try to avoid like the plague. My experience with strip mall dining is right up there with airports. When we ventured inside the restaurant, I had to stop myself from leaving. It has all of the charm of your high school cafeteria, but with nicer furniture. The dining space is one room set with a few dozen tables that look to seat around 60 diners, deuces and four-tops cheek by jowl with no booths or even a plant to provide a little privacy. A single lonely water color hangs on the back wall near the bar. A half wall topped with the requisite ivy planter hides the rest rooms in the opposite corner. I should mention here that the place was also packed, and it was obvious that people were not coming for the atmosphere.
Monday, February 21, 2011
|George, Dennis, Joe, Bob & Frank|
Here's what we look for -
* Locally owned and operated restaurants only. No chains. "Ethnic" eateries would be great.
* We like a glass of wine with dinner. We don't need a Wine Spectator Award wine list, just a nice selection.
* We like a kitchen that actually prepares locally sourced products from scratch - home made stocks and sauces and dressings. We don't need Beef Wellington; we need a chicken that is butchered and cooked in the restaurant's kitchen, not Sysco's. We are looking for real food, classically prepared. No crustacean "foams". No "deconstructed" anything. Please.
* We are looking for good food, a decent bottle of wine, friendly service, and a pleasant atmosphere. We are not looking for four stars with four waiters at each table. We want to relax and have a good time. Two stars will be fine. One star is fine too. Bob prefers three stars and cheap.
* Lastly, they need to be open on Wednesday for dinner, and a separate bar would be nice.
Please give us your recommendations by leaving a comment.
We look forward to hearing your ideas and trying some new places. Thanks in advance.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Reservations: 845 454 4930
Dinner: Tuesday through Sunday
Lunch: Tuesday through Friday
Continuing our quest for the perfect neighborhood eatery, we found ourselves out on Titusville Road last Wednesday, getting to know our new favorite bartender Jen, who works the stick on Wednesday. It had been many many years since any of us had been here. Our most recent visit predated the current owners, who have been running the restaurant for about three years. Bob wanted to give it a try, and the Ulster County contingent made the drive across the pond.
The bar area is most comfortable, with a cozy U-shaped bar seating a dozen or so people. Our Wednesday Boyz crew of six were joined by a like number of regulars. We assigned bar seating by height, to deal with the very low ceiling at the far end of the bar. I like to try and guess the "flavor" of an establishment based on its bar glassware. The quality of the wine glasses and the size of the cocktail glasses can tell you all you need to know about a place. The ratio of beer mugs to martini glasses speaks volumes, and can accurately predict whether the appetizer list will include chicken wings, (Yes - for $7.95), and whether the salad dressing comes on the side in a portion controlled cup. (Yes again.) If you think I'm crazy, start counting bar glasses. If they have more martini glasses than beer mugs the salad will come dressed. The predominant bar glass at Paddock was a margarita glass, which threw me completely . At least a dozen were piled up at the ready. Ready for what I have no idea, unless they get an early start on Cinco de Mayo.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
During the holidays the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie and the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) in Kingston had collection boxes at the back of the theaters after each performance. The Ulster County beneficiary of those donations was The Queens Galley in Kingston, a local "soup kitchen". Their program seeks to serve "real food, restaurant style, on real plates" to anyone seeking a meal. Anyone who is hungry can dine with dignity. After a recent meeting at UPAC, the visionary young lady that runs The Queens Galley, one Diane Reeder, asked if she could provide some refreshments and hors d'oeuvres to say thank you to the UPAC staff and volunteer board. While she had us all cornered in the lobby, she told us the story of Queens Galley. It is a story worth repeating.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
47 North Front Street
Kingston, NY 12401
Update - May 2013 - A more recent review of Boitson's is posted here.
Dinner served Thursday through Monday
Boitson's Bistro appeared on our culinary radar soon after they opened in uptown Kingston last summer. Their days of operation were problematic for my Wednesday Night Boyz crew, as the restaurant closes Tuesday and Wednesday. Luckily a few of us found ourselves in Kingston last Monday for a meeting at UPAC, and we took advantage of the opportunity to stop at Boitson's for dinner. We were very glad we did. I liked the place as soon as I walked in the door.
We love bistros and the physical theme at Boitson's is decidedly that of a Parisian bistro, complete with a dozen white marble topped tables lined up along the dining room's long banquette against the left wall. Padded bentwood bistro chairs line the opposite side of the tables. The opposing wall offers a gorgeous bar with seating for nine, topped with a matching white marble slab and metallic barstools. On top of the slab sit stainless wire "trees" of hard boiled eggs reinforcing the theme - shades of Cafe Des Artistes. Tucked into what is left of the room is a small semi - exposed kitchen, with just enough of a view so that you can watch the chef in action.
We arrived around 6 PM and grabbed the three seats at the end of the bar, next to the kitchen pick up service area. The "specials" blackboard hangs next to the kitchen, and announced the day's offerings of fresh Bluepoint ($1.75) and St Simone ($2) oysters from New Brunswick, along with a half chilled lobster as apps. On our arrival we were the only people in the place. That was about to change in a hurry.