Cross Roads Food Shop is Hillsdale’s New Hot Spot
David Wurth outside his cafe and restaurant in Hillsdale, NY.
Chef David Wurth has been living and cooking long enough in the Berkshires and Hudson Valley to know that a successful business must have crossover appeal. With the Cross Roads Food Shop, he has created the quintessential rural restaurant—a neighborhood hangout by day, destination dining by night—that attracts locals and weekenders alike. In the morning, you can linger over coffee and cornmeal pancakes ($5) or grab an egg sandwich ($5) to go. After noon, there are locally sourced salads such as Brussels sprouts, grated goat cheese, walnuts and wheatberries ($7), grass-fed burgers with fries ($10), and gentrified sandwiches like roasted pork with leeks and chile sauce ($8.50). On weekend evenings, the candles are lit, and Wurth serves deceptively simple but extraordinarily delicious plates such as steamed fish with tapenade, turnips and poached butter lettuce ($22) and spaghetti with spinach, mustard butter and baked tomatoes ($13/$18).
A charmingly neurotic and self-deprecating chef, Wurth has put his three decades of experience into Cross Roads, and his refined sensibility is evident in every bite. Originally from Rochester, NY, he started cooking professionally as a teenager on Martha’s Vineyard. After studying film at NYU and attending culinary school in Philadelphia, he landed a job at Savoy, a new restaurant in SoHo that was one of the first Manhattan restaurants to espouse a farm-to-table philosophy. As he got to know the farmers from the Hudson Valley who supplied the restaurant, he dreamed of living and cooking in close proximity to where his meat and vegetables were raised. In 2006, he was hired to be the first chef at Local 111, which serves locavore cuisine in an improbably chic former gas station in the heart of scruffy Philmont, NY.
After three years at Local 111, he was ready to have his own place, but he did not have a plan until his friend Cathy Grier (aka NYC Subway Girl) introduced him to Matthew White, a New York interior designer and Hillsdale weekender who had bought (with David Reude) a rundown building on Route 23, near the intersection of Route 22, which he wanted to renovate and turn into a general store and other retail spaces. “The initial idea was that I would have a small soup and sandwich concession in the general store,” says Wurth. “But logistically it wasn’t going to work and Matthew encouraged me to take on a bigger space and offered to design it, too.” The airy L-shpaed room has a partially-open kitchen, a communal table in one section, and a wall-size map of Hillsdale that has become a conversation piece. “The local folk love that they can find the street where they live,” says Wurth.
The renovation took much longer than anticipated, so while Wurth was waiting for his space to be ready he went to work for Bjorn Somlo at Nudel in Lenox. “Bjorn had worked for me briefly at Local 111 so I was happy to return the favor and help him open Nudel and see it take off,” says Wurth, who explains that his food is somewhat different than Somlo’s pyrotechnic cooking. “We both start with the same ingredients but my approach is more Alice Waters,” says Wurth. His roast chicken breast on a bed of wilted greens is simplicity at its most sublime—exceptionally juicy and flavorful. When asked why it’s so delicious, the waitress says, “I think they sear it in duck fat.” Wurth won’t confirm or deny, but it’s clear that he has more than few epicurean secrets up his sleeve.
On a recent Friday night, the dining room was buzzing, filled with familiar faces from Austerlitz to the north, Great Barrington to the east, Hudson to the west, and Millerton to the South. “This is exactly why I called it the Cross Roads Food Shop,” says Wurth. “I am glad it is living up to its name.”
642 Route 23, Hillsdale, NY 12529
Breakfast: Wednesday - Sunday 9 - 2:30
Lunch: Wednesday - Sunday noon - 2:30
Dinner: Friday & Satuday 5:30 - 9:30; Sunday 5:30 - 9