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, September 30, 2012
Westport Hotel and Tavern ~ Westport, NY
6691 Main Street
Westport, NY 12993
Open 7 Days ~ All Year!
We stopped in at the Westport Hotel and Tavern yesterday, after coming across Lake Champlain from Vermont on the ferry to Essex. It was immediately apparent that this restaurant held one significant advantage over most Adirondack restaurants at this time of year. They were open.
The new owners, Jim and Jayne Vance, have plans to brave the North Country winter and cater to the locals through all four Adirondack seasons - summer tourist season, ski season, mud season, and black fly season. I assume they know what they are in for, as the family owns a number of other local businesses including the Victorian Lady Bed and Breakfast down the road, and the Lakeside Motel at the Westport Marina.
The family focus on hospitality was in evidence as soon as we saddled up at the bar with our new favorite bartender, Vinny. A sign at the entrance offered lunch daily from noon through 2 PM, but it was 3 PM when we arrived. He went into the kitchen to ask if they would prepare something from the abbreviated "tavern menu". The chef's response was that we could have anything we wanted, and we were offered the full dining room menu to choose from. Try doing that at le Bernardin. One point for nice.
While our lunches were being prepared, I checked out the completely renovated facilities, which include three intimate dining rooms, and an outdoor patio for dining al fresco in summer. The rooms can also be booked for private parties. The inn also has ten guest rooms, which invites an overnight stay starting with a show at the Depot Theatre, cocktails, a leisurely dinner, and a room.
The menu offers a little something for everyone, starting with pub fare like quesadillas stuffed with chicken, steak or duck confit ($11), burgers ($11), BBQ ribs ($16/$21) and chicken ($12), and personal thin crust pizzas ($11), up to full entrees like rack of lamb ($26), baked lasagna ($14), broiled diver scallops ($26), and duck a l'orange ($18). All entrees come with a salad.
After perusing the menu, we returned the chef's courtesy by ordering dishes that would require them to fire up every piece of equipment in the place - frialator, grill, broiler, oven. (I didn't realize this until after we had ordered. Sorry!) We started with apps. A special of six fried duck wings came with a tangy dipping sauce. The portion was much to big for an appetizer, and would actually make for a nice lunch with a glass of wine. Mary's order of spinach / artichoke / hummus platter ($11) showed up sans hummus and double spinach cheese dip, which was great too. A pile of grill charred pita was plated with bowls of warmed dip, topped I think with a slab of gruyere cheese. Very nicely done and also enough for a light lunch all by itself.
We of course do not do light lunches so we ordered a steak and a pasta for our main courses, along with what turned out to be a a really nice bottle of wine - an 06 Campo Viejo Riserva Tempranillo. The restaurant offers two steaks on the menu a filet ($26) and a rib eye ($23). I ordered the latter, medium rare. What looked like a 12 oz.boneless cut arrived with a perfect warm red center, plated with some uninteresting pre-peeled baby carrots and some very interesting organic freekah mix. I first had freekah this summer when I stopped in at Westport's Champlain Valley Milling to pick up my supply of organic bread flour. They offered me some freekah to try. It is made by roasting immature green wheat kernels, and has taste and texture similar to farrow. Wonderful stuff!
Mary's vegetarian white lasagna ($12) stuffed with a cheesy blend of sliced carrots and broccoli was just as good, and too much to finish after the gargantuan appetizers.
At this point a gentleman who turned out to be the owner stopped over to introduce himself. Most restaurateurs will go out of their way greet regulars. Jim stopped over because he did not recognize us, and wanted to make sure we were enjoying ourselves. We certainly were.
The Westport Hotel and Tavern is serving up some good family style cooking with the warm hospitality of your local tavern ~ and that is a wonderful combination. More importantly for the locals, they will be serving all winter ~ which makes them my new favorite Westport restaurant!
If you do stop in please let other readers know about your visit in the comments section.
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