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Brava

Baba Louie's

Verdigris Tea Shop

Berkshire Coop

Benchmark Real Estate

Olde Hudson

NECC Chef & Farmer Brunch

Chez Nous Bistro

Nejaime's Wine Cellars

Lion's Den

Guido's Marketplace

Vivian Mandala Deisgn Studio

Pawling Farmers Market

Bimi cheese shop

Chatham Wine & Liquor

Haven Cafe & Bakery

John Andrews Restaurant

Restaurants

The restaurant descriptions that follow reflect the opinions of the editors of Rural Intelligence.
They are editorial content, not paid advertisements, and are organized by county.

Rural Intelligence Food Prairie Whale, in Great Barrington, for a new farm-to-table hangout. 

terrapin Terrapin, in Rhinebeck, offers astonishing variety and value in a glittering setting. Table Six, in Lenox, features a changing prix fixe meal in the refurbished Kemble Inn.

Berkshire County

Egremont, Massachusetts

John Andrews

Rural Intelligence Food Straddling the border of Berkshire and Columbia Counties, John Andrews has been a beacon in the culinary wilderness for more than two decades. Although chef/owner Dan Smith always offers specials based on seasonal ingredients, it’s hard for him to improve upon his regular, exquisitely eclectic menu—fried oysters with anchovy-mustard vinaigrette ($10), papardelle with wild boar ragu ($20), grilled hangar steak with potato gratin ($30.) Cozy in winter if you sit by the fireplace and refreshing in summer if you have a table overlooking the garden, John Andrews is a restaurant for all seasons and all personalities. If you’re not in the mood for a dining-room experience, the small bar has its own simple menu with yummy things like semolina-coated calamari ($9) and duck wings with blue cheese and celery ($8).

Route 23 (1 mile east of the NY border); 413.528.3469
Sunday - Tuesday & Thursday 5 - 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 5 - 10 p.m.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday Farm Prix Fixe Menu with three courses (with choices) for $30.
Closed Wednesday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 07/01/08 at 05:23 AM • Permalink

Great Barrington, Massachusetts

Aegean Breeze

It’s not easy to find authentic ethnic eateries in our region, which is why Aegean Breeze is so refreshing.  Chef/owner George Cami was born and raised in Greece and his menu is loaded with the foods of his childhood such as Melitzansoalata (roasted baby eggplant spread with garlic and feta cheese), Keftedes (meatballs in tomato sauce), and whole grilled fish like red snapper and striped bass.  Make sure to reserve on Thursday nights when crowds descend for the weekly Lobster Special.

327 Stockbridge Road; 413-528-4001
Lunch and dinner: Sunday - Wednesday 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Thursday - Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 01/31/08 at 01:42 AM • Permalink

Allium

Rural Intelligence Food Local and seasonal is the m.o. at Allium, (which took over the storefronts once occupied by the tragically wonderful Verdura and Due) so the menu reads a bit like a wine list: those aren’t just any turnips alongside that delicious duck breast on a bed of faro ($25), they’re Farm Girl Hakurei turnips, and don’t you forget it.  In the city, such fussing about the provenance of produce seems twee.  Here, we like seeing our farming neighbors duly credited, especially since the chef does such justice to their stuff.  Some of the concoctions may sound a tad weird (roasted cod with mussels and Italian sausage ($25), followed by a blue hubbard brullee), but they work, as does the friendly young staff, so who’s arguing? 

42-44 Railroad Street; 413.528.2118
Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 5 - 9:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 5 - 10 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 02/07/08 at 05:14 AM • Permalink

Baba Louie’s

First, learn the code: When Baba Louie’s owner Paul Masiero (younger brother of Matt and Chris Masiero, co-owners of Guido’s Fresh Marketplace) says small, he means large; when he says large, he means ridiculous.  A small salad here feeds four adults.  The garnish, alone, on Dawn’s Delight ($8.50 small; $17.95 family size assumes a total lack of family planning) has enough gorgonzola, julienned pears, dried cranberries and roasted walnuts on the greens to fulfill the minimum daily requirement of every known nutrient.  The sourdough pizzas are thin-and-crispy-crusted below, hearty on top.  Riccardo’s Famosa ($10.50 small; $15.95 large) features, in addition to tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella, chevre, sundried tomatoes, asiago, calamata olives, roasted garlic, basil and parmesan.  One large pie is plenty for four moderate eaters, as long as they’ve already taken the edge off with a “small” salad.  The only thing that isn’t over-sized here is the check: two couples can get out for $35 or so per pair.  And that includes a large carafe of the house red.

286 Main Street; 413.528.8100
Lunch: 11:30 - 3
Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 5 - 9:30; Friday & Saturday 5 - 10

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 02/12/08 at 08:14 AM • Permalink

Bizen Gourmet Japanese Cuisine

Rural Intelligence Food In the mid-90s, when Bizen, the Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar, first opened, it must have seemed like the last word in exotica—Japanese decor and real sushi chefs showing off their fancy blade-work in plain sight.  Since then, much has changed on the culinary scene.  The ubiquitous cheap sushi that’s sold in supermarkets makes that which was once so rarefied now seem routine.  Other sophisticated restaurants have raised the bar in the Berkshires.  And values have changed. Turns out there are not a lot of fish left in the sea, and even if there were, the nearest ocean is nearly 200 miles east—twice the locavore-sanctioned distance between food source and plate.

Yet Bizen (where the sushi is not cheap) thrives. On weekends, the place is packed, leaving an often overtaxed waitstaff to soothe a peckish public struggling to make sense of a menu that is nothing short of gargantuan.  The Dinner Specials alone fill seven pages with such groaners as Viagra (boiled eel, giant clam, etc.) and Condoleezza Rice.  So what’s the big draw?  One theory: People who crave Japanese food—and it is addictive—are not really interested in variety, they just want their old favorites.  And if they ignore the printed menu here and ask for them, they fill the bill. —Marilyn Bethany

17 Railroad Street; 413.528.4343
Lunch and dinner:
Monday - Tuesday 2-9 p.m., Wednesday 1 - 2 p.m and 6 - 9 p.m., Thursday 12 - 10 p.m.,Friday 12 - 1 p.m. and 5 - 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 12 - 10 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 07/31/10 at 01:18 PM • Permalink

Cafe Adam

Rural Intelligence FoodCafe Adam, owned by the internationally-trained chef and Berkshire native Adam Zieminski, delivers.  It bills itself as a brasserie.  In addition to the good value that implies, the menu has plenty of impeccably-executed brasserie standards, such as boeuf Bourguignon, cassoulet, bouillabaisse Marseilles (at $22 their most popular dish, according to our genial waitress), and steak frites.  Even the low-key-yet-skillful interior design nods to brasserie tradition, with firsts, wines and desserts scrawled on tall rectangles of chalkboard painted directly onto the walls.  The management also justifiably claims a stake in New American Cuisine.  There is a spirit of experimentation you’ll never find in a Paris brasserie, and what comes out of the kitchen is locally raised and grown “as much as possible,” with special effort invested in obtaining fresh fish.  One appetizer of deep-fried Spanish onion with a yogurt-turmeric sauce was shared by five people and got ten thumbs up.  The steak is offered at four price points, ranging from a $15 hache to a $28 tenderloin. We opted for the $19 hanger and were patting ourselves on the back.  The profiteroles were perfect and, as promised, the crème brûlée was “just like Julia Child’s.”

420 Stockbridge Road Ste 3 (new location, starting April 10, 2013)
Great Barrington; 413.528.7786
Lunch: Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.- 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Wednesday - Sunday 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday brunch: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Closed Tuesday

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 04/12/09 at 04:07 AM • Permalink

Castle Street Cafe

Rural Intelligence Food On nights when there is a show at the Mahaiwe next door, Castle Street Cafe is reminiscent of Joe Allen, the venerable Broadway saloon. After 20 years, it still pulses with energy, and the staff knows enough to ask whether you are heading next door after dinner to make sure you order dishes that the kitchen can fire up promptly. But even on nights when the theater is dark, Castle Street has a bar crowd that makes the restaurant buzz and there is live jazz on most Saturday nights. Chef Michael Ballon offers up a menu that feels like a compilation of greatest hits so it’s always hard to choose what to order, but he’s especially adept with fish dishes like salmon with grilled asparagus ($26) and tortilla crusted filet of sole with citrus salsa ($21). The bar menu offers up hearty sandwiches—felafel for vegetarians ($11) and a half-pound burger ($11) that is served with addictive shoestring fries.

10 Castle Street; 413.528.5244

Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 5 - 9 PM; Friday & Saturday 5 - 10 PM
Closed Tuesday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 05/03/09 at 03:31 AM • Permalink

Gypsy Joynt

Rural Intelligence FoodIf you’re looking for family-friendly, Great Barrington’s Gyspy Joynt Café is the perfect spot. The three-year-old, ultra-casual restaurant – recently relocated to a downtown locale – is known for its expansive, creative, comfort-food menu. As beloved as the food is the “gypsy” family itself: Keith and Lori Weller, their five children, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. (You can recognize most of them by their tattoos and long auburn hair.) Patrons order at the counter, as the clan works side-by-side conjuring up one-of-a-kind recipes at prices that barely dent the wallet, including delicious, innovative pizzas on homemade dough, clad with everything from roasted veggies to macaroni and meatballs
 ($10.99-$18.99). Gypsy also serves fresh salads made with local greens and house dressings ($9.99); grass-fed burgers or vegetarian lentil patties on focaccia bread, elaborately topped, or not, with condiments ranging from pesto and provolone to banana peppers ($10.99); soups, snacks, and fresh-baked, ridiculously large desserts. Patrons can sit inside the rock & roll themed restaurant or at a sidewalk seat, while enjoying liquor, beer, wine, and coffee drinks from the espresso bar. Just don’t forget to bus your own table. As integral to Gypsy as food is music, with Wednesday evening open mic and weekend concerts featuring local and visiting acts. On weekends, Gypsy keeps the magic going as the kitchen stays open late, making them one of the only joints in Barrington that serves after 10 p.m.

293 Main Street; 413-644-8811
Monday 11 – 4; closed Tuesday; Wednesday & Thursday 11 am - 10 pm; Friday & Saturday 11 am - ?; Sunday 11 am – 9 pm.

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Posted by Fiona Breslin on 09/05/12 at 11:14 AM • Permalink

Haven Cafe and Bakery

We’ve always depended on the cafe/bakery Haven in Lenox for satiating both tastes and timing: it’s both a breakfast and lunch place that is a satisfying culinary experience early, and all day, and now there one in Great Barrington, too. The food is dependably superb, with delicious dishes such as grilled polenta (three triangles topped with basil pesto, roasted shiitake mushrooms, onion confit and goat cheese, $14.50) or Croque Monsieur on farm bread with the special twist of pears ($12.50). In addition to the regular reliable menu items, daily specials on the days we dropped in were two pumpkin pancakes with toasted pepitas ($10) and a scrambled burrito with turkey sausage, cheddar cheese, and tomatillo ($12), both the combo of comfy and challenging . A baby arugula and faro salad ($10.75) with heirloom tomatoes was a delicate mix of the slightly bitter spring flavors complementing the nutty faro and sweetness of the tomatoes. A breakfast burrito of scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and spinach, all wrapped in a grilled flour tortilla ($9.50), came with eggs moist but not soggy and all spiced up with layers of baby spinach and a zingy puree of avocado and tomatillo. With Haven’s two locations, there’s now twice the opportunity to enjoy owner Shelly Williams’ beloved community cafe.

Haven Cafe and Bakery

325 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, MA
Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
(413) 528-5433

8 Franklin Street, Lenox, MA
(413) 637-8948
Open Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m to 3 p.m.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/24/14 at 12:24 PM • Permalink

Patisserie Lenox

Patisserie Lenox on Main Street in Great Barrington, a newer satellite of the Lenox store, is as inviting as its mother ship. Owners Jean Yves Bougouin (whose confections have been on the lips of Julia Child and Raquel Welch) and his wife Yulia are veterans of the pastry scene. Their coffee drinks are strong and frothy ($4 & up),  but the real treasure here is the pastry case full of French macarons in every color, fluffy mille-feuille, chocolate-drizzled raspberry croissants, fruit-glazed pannacotta and much more ($2.50 & up). An ever-changing, fresh assortment of hardier breakfast and lunch fare includes delicious quiche with a side of organic greens ($10), brioche sandwiches including a Croque Monsieur, and daily soup specials ($6/bowl) served with brioche toast. On a recent visit, our reviewer was smitten with a bowl of borscht, full of tender chopped beets in their own juice, combined (but not wholly blended) with chopped hard-boiled eggs, fresh dill, scallions, crisp cucumbers, and just a hint of pepper.

313 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA
(413) 591-8747
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays until 5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/12/14 at 08:42 PM • Permalink

Prairie Whale

Rural Intelligence FoodLots of restaurants in the RI region profess to be farm-to-table. Prairie Whale (formerly called Bell & Anchor), a new restaurant brought to us by the formerly Brooklyn-based star restaurateur Mark Firth, has joined the fray. That it takes the combined efforts of three talented cooks, plus the owner’s tireless dedication to sourcing local ingredients, explains why locavore perfection proves to be such an achievement. Peaceful, inclusive, and romantic, the restaurant has a menu with fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Brunch and lunch options include seasonal roasted squash omelets ($12), polenta with homemade sausage ($14), and quiche with caramelized onion and goat cheese ($12). Lunch might be a light bean and kale soup, also on the dinner menu as a starter ($7), or a French dip sandwich ($14), and kale salad with radish, grand padano and garlic chips ($9). While there are other vegetable options, dinner is meat-eater focused: steak tartare ($14)  and charcuterie plates ($14) for starters; main courses include first-rate grass-fed cheeseburgers and fries with homemade mayonnaise ($14),  beef stew ($22), chicken pot pie ($19), brick chicken with radish and kale ($22), and New York strip steak with potato gratin ($34). Desserts hit the spot and are perfect to share, including a chocolate caramel tart and apple gallette ($8). From families to single twenty-somethings, anyone can come for dinner and cozy up in a corner booth or at a family style table. Or perch yourself at the bar for a bite and/ or an evening of drinks.On Sunday nights, foot-stomping local folk bands such as Hunger Mountain perform live while a roaring fire blazes from a wood burning stove all season long.

178 Main Street
(413) 528-5050    
Monday, Thursday - Sunday 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Monday, Thursday - Sunday 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

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Posted by Scott Baldinger on 12/01/12 at 02:45 AM • Permalink

Route 7 Grill

Rural Intelligence Food After a day outdoors—swimming and hiking in summer or skiing and snowshoeing in winter—you want serious comfort food, and Route 7 Grill delivers in all seasons. This upscale roadhouse has stunning graphics and a great barbecue menu, and a two-sided fireplace that warms up this vast restaurant on chilly evenings.  The savory half or full rack of babyback ribs ($16/$24) and succulent brisket ($16) are first rate, and the sides such as roasted beets and mac-and-cheese (most made from locally grown or raised ingredients) are delicious enough to be the main event. Celebrating its cooking-over-wood focus, Route 7 also offers poached lobster-and-Zehr mushroom risotto and house-made mozzarella panzanella salad (made with roasted red peppers instead of out-of-season tomatoes). A farm-to-table highlight is the build-your-own charcuterie plate that has become the restaurant’s signature. Served on a handsome cutting board shaped like a pig, it includes a piquant pate (made with chicken liver from Abair Farm), silky cold-smoked salmon; a Long Island duck confit with a crispy, delectable skin; a housemade Merguez sausage (made from Mayflower Farm lamb); and crunchy, house-fermented sauerkraut; all of which is accompanied by buttery toast made from the house-made brioche. And if there’s a wait, nothing’s better than having a draught beer (three of them from Big Elm Brewing in Sheffield) in front of the fireplace.

999 Main Street (Route 7); 413.528.3235

Lunch: Noon - 3 p.m.
Dinner: 5-9 p.m. Open to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Closed Tuesdays

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 01/30/08 at 08:24 AM • Permalink

The Bistro Box

There are those places that are just cursed. You know the kind. Switches hands every 1 to 3 years, nobody really knows what kind of food they serve anymore. Happily, one of those “cursed” eatery locations, the summer hot dog shack along Route 7, has broken that curse. The Bistro Box, true to its name, is a roadside eatery that offers up fresh, homemade, hard-working picnic food. It’s a place you can take a lunch break or where you can proudly take a date for a vintage-inspired evening sitting under a pine grove enjoying the company of true love and damn tasty onion rings. The Bistro Box has wholesome, actual good food made from real ingredients (not pre-frozen, pre-packaged imposters). The onion rings,for example, are fresh, dipped in a golden batter with a hint of cornmeal, lightly fried and served with a ketchup aioli that we couldn’t get enough of. Fried dill pickles, same signature batter with a homemade buttermilk ranch dip. The menu also includes burgers and dogs, paninis, hand-cut fries (lots of choices like garlic and fresh herbs, parmesan and truffle oil, chili cheese), cold-brewed coffee, savory salads, and for starving, newly minted vegetarians, the falafel burger: a homemade chickpea patty topped with crispy “quick” pickles and red pepper feta spread. The food is crisp, the portions are perfect, and everything is reasonably priced (nothing more than $8). —Nichole Dupont

The Bistro Box
Rt. 7—937 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA
(413) 717-5958
Monday, Tuesday & Thursday—Saturday 11 a.m.—7 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.—5 p.m., Closed Wednesdays until summertime.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/26/14 at 10:21 AM • Permalink

Xicohténcatl

Rural Intelligence FoodFirst the pronunciation: Shi Ko TEN cat.  Now, let’s sort out the Mexican restaurant thing.  Pretty much everybody loves some kind of Mexican food, and the intensity with which they love their kind, is often a measure of how much they hate every other.  Which is to say, all Mexican restaurants are controversial.  Whenever we say something nice about one, a basher is waiting to pounce. So how to be fair? What you will get at Xichohténcatl is ebullient service and ambiance; fresh-cut, if somewhat timid, salsa and guacamole with chips that taste homemade; and Margaritas made with fresh juice.  Nice start.  What you will not get is groundbreaking Mexican cuisine made with exceptional finesse from superior ingredients.  This is a cheerful, inexpensive (if you lay off the $8 - $13 Margaritas), noisy restaurant and bar, a fun place for families and groups, and a perfectly serviceable spot for couples, as long as they sit on the patio or porch, away from the din.  And as long as they don’t expect their $16 entree to be as thrilling as one that elsewhere would cost twice as much. —Marilyn Bethany

50 Stockbridge Road (Rte 7); 413.528.2002
Daily: lunch, noon - 4 p.m. 
Sunday - Thursday dinner to 10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday dinner to 11 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 07/14/09 at 03:11 PM • Permalink

Housatonic, Massachusetts

Brick House Pub

“One of our goals is to have the best burger in the Berkshires,” said Leland Kent, one of the owners of the reconstituted Brick House Pub in Housatonic. Along with John Flynn and Mark Cailoa, they launched Brick House 2.0 and have kept it a neighborhood saloon with live music on weekends where you could watch a game on a Sunday afternoon. Their great burger remains one of the best in the region:  the Five Alarm Burger ($13),with jalapeno Monterey Jack cheese, pickled jalapenos and Sriracha mayo is extraordinarily delicious. All the thick, charred burgers (which come with a pile of addictive hand-cut fries) are made from NEFF (Northeast Family Farms) beef and are served on a sesame roll that’s sturdy enough to not fall apart but not too big to fit in your mouth. The rolls comes from Berkshire Mountain Bakery down the street, as does the dough for the sensational thin crust pizzas ($12-$14 for the 10-inch small and $15-$20 for the 16-inch large). The menu also features artisanal renditions of classics like House Nachos ($11), Truffle Fries ($8), House-Made Loaded Potato Skins ($10) and a dozen wings ($12) bathed in a choice of sauces: classic hot, chipotle barbecue, garlic parmesan or Asian sweet chili. The pub offers 12 beers on tap including a craft cider and craft beers from micro-breweries across the US as well as a unique wine menu and a full bar.

425 Park Street, Housatonic, MA
413.274.0020
Open Monday—Fridaym 4 p.m.—midnight; Saturday & Sunday, noon to midnight
Kitchen is open Monday—Thursday, 4-9 p.m., Friday—Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday 11:30 a.m.—9 p.m.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/10/14 at 08:37 AM • Permalink

Pleasant & Main

Pleasant & Main (on the corner of, well, you guessed it) in Housatonic, MA is a like a pirate’s treasure chest; the outside is unassuming, but once you open it up you realize you’ve struck gold. High-ceilinged, red-walled and sprawling, the café has an old-timey ambience. The wide-open dining room is flanked on either end by massive wooden shelves full of collectibles (most for sale) and natural light floods through a giant stained glass window in the front. The menu is unpretentious; a daily offering of veggie quiche (with a side of fresh greens) delights with a light crust, the eggs Florentine is topped with a healthy dollop of classic hollandaise that melts in the mouth. The croissants are perfect and buttery and the coffee — be it espresso, latte, cappuccino – is never bitter and always perfectly hot. The lunch lineup includes sandwiches, burgers and salads, along with European options like savory ratatouille crepes and Croque Monsieur. Veteran restaurateur Craig Bero, who spent the last 35 years on the food scene in Manhattan, and longtime chef Sixto Rodriguez also dish up community suppers Thursday – Saturday nights, with a simple menu that rotates with the chef’s creativity and Mother Nature’s palate, and may include dishes like beef pot roast with a burgundy gravy, lamb shepherd’s pie or orange sunshine cake.

1063 Main Street, Housatonic, MA
(413) 274-6303
Open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday, with dinner offered Thursday through Saturday. Closed Mondays.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/12/14 at 10:10 AM • Permalink

Lee, Massachusetts

Bombay Bar & Grill

Rural Intelligence Food Located at the Quality Inn motel (formerly the Black Swan) on Laurel Lake, Bombay Bar and Grill is one of those hidden gems (well, perhaps, it’s more a diamond in the rough). As you pass through the motel lobby, you can see the murky lake through the windows of the greenhouse dining room.  The bright yellow room is incongruously forlorn, which I find beguiling and romantic. While the lakeside setting makes the restaurant sui generis, the food and service are what make it memorable. Our waiter was the epitome of graciousness as we ordered Chicken Ammwala (the “signature” dish of Chicken Tikka cooked with mango and spices) and Palak Paneer (cheese in a mild spinach sauce). But when we asked for Bhamia Koota (spiced lamb with okra in a tamarind infused onion tomato sauce), he couldn’t contain a knowing chuckle, and we think we understood why. Bhamia Koota is described on the menu as a “Calcutta Jewish Specialty,” and it seems to be some sort of signifier for secular Jews like myself that we are not just welcome here but that we belong. Everyone is made to feel welcome at Bombay Bar & Grill: the menu has about a dozen vegetarian dishes and another dozen vegan dishes, so it’s one of those rare places where carnivores and herbivores can dine happily in harmony. The restaurant has bargain-priced lunch specials, a buffet lunch and Sunday brunch, but I prefer to (over) order a la carte, because that way there are delectable leftovers to take home—and, yes, everything tastes even better the second day.

Rural Intelligence Food
435 Laurel Street, Lee, MA; 413.243-6731

Lunch: Tuesday - Friday, 12 - 2:30 p.m; Buffet: Saturday 12 - 2:30 p.m.; Sunday 12 - 3 p.m.  Dinner: Tuesday -Thursday 5 - 9:30 p.m.; Sunday 5 - 9 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 06/02/08 at 01:17 PM • Permalink

Chez Nous

Rural Intelligence FoodWhen husband-and-wife team, chef Franck Tessier and pastry chef Rachel Portnoy, bought a funky building on Main Street in 2005, their intention was clearly not to open a chic restaurant.  Rather, with Chez Nous, they were aiming at the sort of French bistro that astonishes travelers throughout provincial France.  One may enter with a touch of trepidation; how can a place this modest be any good? Then food and service make misgivings melt.  Using local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible, they turn out perfect bistro classics and dishes of their own invention (an admirably browned-yet-still-satiny piece of cod on a bed of saffrony lemon-lobster risotto, $24.95) at unbeatable prices.  A pretty French waitress (how many nieces can Franck have?) hovers, making sure glasses are refilled and needs are met.  The only thing to jar the illusion that one is in La France profonde? The vegetarian options are more than an afterthought, as Rachel cops to that bias herself. —Marilyn Bethany

150 Main Street; 413.243.6397
Thursday - Sunday, from 5 p.m.
Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 04/25/10 at 03:41 AM • Permalink

Pho Saigon

Rural Intelligence FoodPho Saigon, a small and simple Vietnamese restaurant on a side street in downtown Lee, isn’t one of those restaurants that makes for an evening’s entertainment. But luckily, it is a great place to stop after shopping at the Lee Outlets or on your way to nearby Shakespeare & Company or the Berkshire Theatre Festival. You would be seriously remiss if you did not order the appetizer crepe, and it’s hard to imagine a soul that would not be warmed by a meal-sized bowl of spicy beef-and-lemongrass soup with vermicelli (photo) or chicken-and-shrimp noodle soup (both $9.95) which are served with plates of cool, freshcondiments—bean sprouts, fresh basil, sliced lime and chile peppers. And there’s large selection of sauteed noodle dishes and grilled meats ($10.95 to $19.95) and vegetarian entrees so even finicky eaters should find something they want to order.

5 Railroad Street; 413.243.6288
Monday, Wednesday & Thursday 11:30 AM - 9 PM; Friday - Sunday 11:30 AM - 9:30 PM
Closed: Tuesdays

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 01/03/09 at 03:53 PM • Permalink

Lenox, Massachusetts

Alta Restaurant & Wine Bar

Rural Intelligence FoodThere’s nothing unctious, hokey, or mechanically professional about the welcome you receive at Alta.  The experienced staff here act as if they are enjoying themselves and hope that you will too. And why should you not?  Alta serves sophisticated food and wine without pretension at prices that are more than fair. Chef Thierry Breard and general manager Aurelien Telle are both French, and it shows the work.  The menu features such bistro classics as duck a l’orange with mashed potatoes and roasted fennel ($28) and pan-roasted chicken au jus, with mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach ($21).  The only thing on the plate of bernaise-sauced filet mignon with braised endive that might raise an eyebrow on the Rue du Bac? A few sweet potato slices tossed in among the whites in the accompanying gratin ($27). Alta offers twenty-four (not all French) wines by the glass, ranging from $6 to $11. A flight of three for tasting is $10. At night, there is a bar menu (a smoked salmon plate with capers, lemon, arugula, crostinis, and dill whipped cream, $10), and they also serve lunch (a panini of fried haddock with remoulade, shredded lettuce and tomato, $12).
 
34 Church Street
Open daily
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 5 - 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 5 - 10 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 01/27/10 at 10:26 AM • Permalink

Bistro Zinc

Rural Intelligence FoodYou’ve gotta love a high-end Berkshires restaurant that keeps the bar open ‘til 1 a.m.  Not that one would ever avail herself of the privilege.  But it strikes a blow for a brand of fun that’s thin on the ground around here.  Berkshire-eans tend to expect too much of Bistro Zinc.  When it opened in 1999, the food was a revelation.  Since then, it’s been coasting, and the competition has wised up.  But if you stick to bistro fare—the steak with perfect frites ($29—if you don’t count the extra $5 they tack on for the side of spinach or haricots vertes), the astonishing 8-ounce burger on a plate piled high with onion rings, French fries, and tempura-fried green beans ($18), the roasted trout ($24)—you can have a fine time here.  Lunch in the bright dining room is even better; same burger (alas, minus the tempura beans) is $5 less.  A word about specials: A special can be something seasonal and lovely, such as soft-shell crab; or it can be experimental, a dish the chef isn’t sure even he or she is going to like.  My advice: if you’re risk-averse, steer clear of specials.  Pheasant stark naked except for the cabbage leaf it steamed in ($28)? Note to chef: sauce is pheasant’s raison d’etre.

56 Church Street; 413.637.8800
Open daily
Lunch: 11:30 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Dinner: 5:30 - 10 p.m.


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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 02/21/08 at 02:30 AM • Permalink

Brava

For those of us who like to dine after we’ve seen a movie, play or concert, Brava is a revelation—a place to eat well and unwind until midnight in downtown Lenox. A wine bar in the European tradition, Brava offers an extensive assortment of craft beers and wines by the glass as well as nibbles like marinated olives or Marcona almonds ($3 each) or more substantial fare like fragrant grilled lamb chops with minted yogurt ($15) or shrimp with garlic ($12). You can build your own cheese and charcuterie plates ($17/$28) and select from a menu that features several raw cow’s milk cheeses made in the USA. To make sure Brava was not seen as elitist or precious, owner Whitney Asher cleverly put hearty hand-made pizzas — with combinations like prosciutto, fontina, ricotta and arugula — on the menu ($13 - $15), that make the bar a family-friendly destination in the early evening. —Dan Shaw

27 Housatonic Street, Lenox, MA
(413) .637-9171    
Open daily 5 p.m. - 1 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight)

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Posted by Scott Baldinger on 10/31/12 at 07:30 AM • Permalink

Cafe Lucia

People who love Cafe Lucia, and they are legion, return again and again because of the warm welcome and good service they know they will receive, because of the interesting wine list, and because the Italian food is so authentic.  People who don’t love it take exception to paying so much (only one pasta under $20; only one entree under $30, with the osso buco topping the price list at $39) for such predictable (just another word for “authentic,” after all) fare, served in a setting that, at best, can be described as pleasant and inoffensive.  In warm weather, the outdoor seating is a plus. 

80 Church Street, Lenox; 413.637.2640
Tuesday - Saturday 5:30 p.m.

 

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 10/05/08 at 11:33 AM • Permalink

Firefly

Bring me your solo diners, your restaurant-food-weary, your families with young children yearning for something not-too-challenging to eat.  That’s Firefly; a pleasant bakery/internet cafe by day; grown-up bistro with kid-friendly menu by night.  There’s even an entire menu section devoted to Comfort Plates.  So, while one in your party can be living it up with the crispy roasted half duckling with port wine fig glaze, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans ($28), another can be soothing a wounded spirit with a crock of tomato-and-basil soup and a grilled fontina cheese sandwich ($13).  And unlike certain other restaurants on Church Street who shall remain nameless, Firefly stays open year ‘round, for which they score extra points.

71 Church Street; 413.637-2700
Open daily 5 p.m.

 

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 03/02/08 at 04:26 AM • Permalink

Nudel

Rural Intelligence FoodIt’s rare that a restaurant with serious culinary ambitions is unpretentious and affordable, which is why Nudel is such a welcome addition to the Berkshires. In only two months, it has developed a zealous coterie of fans who consider it the most thrilling dining experience around. Chef/owner Bjorn Somlo offers reasonably-priced lunch items such as a grilled cheese sandwich or a bowl of penne for $6. His menu is seasonally inspired and ever-changing and gets more ambitious in the evening. He appeals to foodies who are willing to go with the flow and want to experiment along with the chef who comes up with new dishes every day such as veal and pheasant lasagna with Tuscan kale, fried onions and ricotta; braised beef and garlic with Dijon spaetzle, egg drop; fluke tartare with pickled muskmelon and toasted sesame. On a recent evening, we were awed by grits with spicy sausage and lentils ($15) and beef “scrapple” with figs and pickles ($9). And would anyone else but Bjorn have the chutzpah to offer a special eight-course all-duck tasting menu ($55) on a random Tuesday night? You can watch the chef work his magic every step of the way if you take a seat at the counter with its full view of the open kitchen. —Dan Shaw

37 Church Street, Lenox; 413.551.7183
Dinner: Tuesday - Saturday 5:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Closed Monday & Sunday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 09/25/09 at 12:38 PM • Permalink

Olde Heritage Tavern

Rural Intelligence FoodDepending on your mood, Lenox can be utterly charming or unbearably la-di-da. When you want no-nonsense food in a no-nonsense environment, the Olde Heritage Tavern provides an ungentrified dining experience in the center of town. Inside, the horseshoe bar is ringed with regulars who seem to represent a cross-section of Lenox’s year-round population. On a nice day, the tables outside offer a front-row view of the sidewalk scene.  While soup and salad sounds like a light meal, it’s hearty one here:  the milky New England Clam Chowder ($3.99) comes in an oversize mug and the spinach salad ($8.49) is loaded with walnuts, bacon, hard boiled eggs and blue cheese. The burger ($7.49) is exactly what you expect from a saloon and the fish and chips are light and flaky. Best of all, you can get always get a drink here early or late in the day. —Dan Shaw

12 Housatonic Street; 413.637.0884
Kitchen Hours: Sunday - Thursday: 11:30 a.m.- 9 p.m
Friday & Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Bar Hours: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 08/05/09 at 03:49 PM • Permalink

Table Six

Named in reference to the Algonquin Round Table of lore, this restaurant in the beautifully refurbished Kemble Inn is a special addition to the eating experience in the area. Chef Ron Reda, who presided over the White House mess when President Clinton was in office, has come up with a changing prix fixe, three-course meal that comes to $53, with offerings such as a local asparagus soup, duck leg confit, and key lime pot de crème, each of which had a purity of flavor that comes with using great ingredients and presenting them in an elegant way.  A spring vegetable soup served the evening we were there was fresh and full of herbal flavors and zest; the crab cake was full of crumbly crab chunks balanced with arugula salad and a rich tomato jam. For main courses, a pan-seared organic salmon and grilled lamb loin chop came out perfectly: The chop, accompanied by a green lentil ragout, was hearty and tender, the lamb full of flavor. I chose a glass of the Cantena Malbec from Argentina ($11.00) to go with it; a hearty red well matched to the meat. A bottle of the Parducci Chardonnay from California was well priced for its quality ($52). For dessert, a mini bundt cake swathed in strawberry and blueberry flavored fresh “berry” cream and a mocha ganache Napoleon were worth risking triple bypass surgery for.—Elizabeth Goldfarb Richardson

Kemble Inn, 2 Kemble Street, Lenox
Prix Fixe Dinner: Wednesday – Sunday
5 - 8:30 p.m. Reservations appreciated.
413 -637- 4113

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Posted by Scott Baldinger on 12/02/13 at 09:14 AM • Permalink

Wheatleigh

Rural Intelligence FoodYou may not be the sort of person who would normally dine or stay at Wheatleigh, where the prix-fixe dinner is $125 and the rooms begin at $715. But you can certainly be the sort of person who indulges in a soothing lunch in Wheatleigh’s Library, where an extremely lovely plate of smoked salmon, goat cheese, artichokes and rosemary crackers costs $15 and a dish of artichoke-and-ricotta raviloli with mushrooms and parmesan is $19. Every detail is exquisite, and you’ll definitely ask for seconds of the authentic crusty baguette and sweet butter that is served with your meal.  For dessert, share a sampling of intensely flavored house-made ice creams and sorbets ($9). Sitting by the window in this Italianate villa that has been beautifully restored and furnished with spare modern furniture by Tsao & McKown Architects, you’ll receive the royal treatment no matter who you are. —Dan Shaw

Hawthorne Road; 413.637.0610
Lunch daily: noon - 2 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 02/28/11 at 10:39 AM • Permalink

New Marlborough, Massachusetts

Old Inn on the Green

Rural Intelligence Food With intimate dining rooms illuminated only by candlelight (and warmed by five crackling fireplaces in the winter), the Old Inn has a romantic Masterpiece Theatre ambiance, which is one of the reasons the Old Inn is many people’s favorite restaurant in the Berkshires. Thankfully, there is nothing old-fashioned about chef/owner Peter Platt’s audacious contemporary cuisine that satisfies even the most demanding foodies. The $35 prix-fixe specials on Wednesday and Thursday nights are as appetizing as they are affordable.

134 Hartsville New Marlborough Rd/Rte 57, Village Green; 413-229-7924
Dinner: Wednesday - Sunday 5:30 - 9:00

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 11/18/08 at 06:55 AM • Permalink

North Adams, Massachusetts

Jack’s Hot Dog Stand

Rural Intelligence FoodJack’s Hot Dog Stand—a sliver of a lunch counter that’s been around since 1917—gives you a palpable sense of North Adams’s industrial past. It’s definitely more Edward Hopper than Norman Rockwell. Make sure to order the hot dog ($.95) with fried peppers and onions ($.40), and you’ll wonder why anyone bothers to eat a hot dog with any other toppings. The tasty little hamburgers ($.95) and cheeseburgers ($1.20) are—amazingly—handmade from fresh meat and served on warm rolls that come out of an ancient steamer built into the counter.  And the crisp onion rings ($1.50) are exactly what you’d hope for from a joint like that was serving fast food long before McDonald’s. You can get orders to go, but half the fun of Jack’s is sitting on a stool and watching the show behind the counter. —Dan Shaw

12 Eagle Street; 413.664.9006
Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Closed Sunday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 11/22/09 at 03:16 AM • Permalink

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Hancock Shaker Village Harvest Café

Rural Intelligence FoodMost tourist destination dining facilities are lackluster; an inevitable consequence of feeding a captive clientele.  Not so the Harvest Café  at Hancock Shaker Village, which, fortunately, may be accessed without paying an entrance fee.  In season, Michael Roller, former executive chef at Blantyre in Lenox, uses food from the Village farms to make some of the best salads (i.e., baby spinach, hickory-smoked bacon, hard-boiled eggs, sliced mushrooms, red onion and croutons with a Dijon-herb vinaigrette; $5.95) and sandwiches (an open-faced roast beef on grilled farmer’s bread with a Shaker mushroom sauce, crispy shallots and mesclun greens, $6.75) around.  This is a pleasantly surprising place to meet friends for breakfast, lunch or tea—the confections, many based on traditional Shaker recipes (blueberry pudding with apricot ice cream) are heavenly. —Marilyn Bethany

34 Lebanon Mountain Road (Rte 20); 413.443.0188
Open April - October Daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 07/18/09 at 03:04 AM • Permalink

Mazzeo’s

Rural Intelligence Food“I feel like I’m in an episode of The Sopranos,” said my friend who grew up in New Jersey and thus knows from whence she speaks. She was not suggesting that Mazzeo’s is a mob hangout. Rather, she was acknowledging that this enormous restaurant embraces you with a hearty Italian-American gemütlichkeit.  Though it’s the size of a small cruise ship, Mazzeo’s feels like a mom-and-pop restaurant, and the Mazzeo clan works hard to make all their guests feel like part of the family.  The more-than-generous antipasto plate ($12) features fluffy fresh mozzarella, tangy marinated peppers, salami, mortadella and olives, which can be shared by 3 or 4 hungry people. All the main courses, including pastas, come with a choice of soup or salad, and you soon understand why so many folks are leaving with doggie bags: the portions are very generous.  Most dishes are robust, including the garlicky linguine with white clam sauce ($22), the fettuchine with veal Bolognese ($20) and Bistecca Michele, a grilled marinated New York Sirloin topped with succulent roasted red peppers, capers and caramelized onions ($27). Mazzeo’s is the kind of place that would be perfect for an old-fashioned Sunday dinner, except it’s closed on Sundays!  Apparently, the Mazzeos reserve that day for dining at home with their family. —Dan Shaw

1015 South Street; 413. 448.2095

Monday - Thursday 4 - 9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 4 - 10 p.m.
Closed Sunday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 02/15/11 at 03:47 AM • Permalink

Mission Bar + Tapas

Rural Intelligence FoodIt’s not hyperbole to say that Mission Bar + Tapas revolutionized nightlife in Pittsfield. If you’re looking for a spot for a late supper after a play, movie or concert downown, head to Mission and you can take your time because the kitchen stays open until midnight seven days a week, which really is owner Jim Benson’s idea of community service. “I want Pittsfield to be the type of small city that I want to live in, which means being able to eat something good late at night,” says Benson, who recently started serving lunch at Mission, too. No matter what you’re craving, you will find more than few things that will satisfy your hunger because Benson has put together a menu of yummy things like roast eggplant dip ($6), cheeseburger or salmon BLT sliders ($6),  bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese ($6), french fries ($3) fried calamari ($8) and garlic shrimp ($9). At this time of year, you can sit at one of the cafe tables on North Street and watch the carnival of passersby that gives Pittsfield its quirky, urban edge, or sit inside amongst more twentysomethings than you normally see in a Berkshire restaurant and listen to live music. (Mission has its own quirks like no telephone and no mixed drinks—wine and beer only.) No matter. Mission makes you believe, as Benson certainly does, in the vitality of Pittsfield. —Dan Shaw

438 North Street;
Daily: noon - midnight

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 06/06/10 at 12:46 PM • Permalink

Shiro Sushi Lounge

Rural Intelligence FoodLike any all-American Japanese restaurant, Shiro, which opened recently across the street from the Beacon Cinema, has all sorts of sushi to accommodate people who don’t really like raw fish. such as the Philadelphia Roll (smoked salmon, cream cheese, and scallion; $6.50) and the Lobster Tempura Roll (lobster, scallion, avocado and caviar; $16.95). If you are craving sushi or sashimi, everything you order will be presented with refined style by friendly, attentive waitresses. Shiro also offers a greatest hits selection of entrees—shrimp-and-vegetable tempura ($17.95), chicken yakitori ($15.95), salmon teriyaki ($17.95), beef negimaki ($18.95) pork katsu ($15.95)—and bento box lunch specials ($6.95 -$9.95) on weekdays. (Alas, it does not have a hibachi grill like its outpost in Great Barrington.) The restaurant wants to be a family-friendly, neighborhood restaurant: On a recent night, it very happily served a five-year-old girl the all-American strawberry shortcake ablaze with birthday candles that her mother had made at home and delivered to the kitchen before dinner. —Dan Shaw

48 North Street; 413.236.8111
Lunch: Monday - Friday 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Dinner: Monday - Thursday 5 - 10 p.m.; Friday 5 - 11 p.m.
Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sunday noon - 10 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 04/14/10 at 02:19 AM • Permalink

The Lantern Bar & Grill

Rural Intelligence Food Of all the burger joints in our region, is there any place more authentic—or with a better neon sign—than The Lantern? A cross between a saloon and a luncheonette, it has been a reassuring presence in Pittsfield since 1926, a democratic dining spot where everyone can afford the six-ounce charred cheeseburger ($4.25) or grilled cheese with tomato ($3.75). “Everyone I take there says the same thing—it has the best grilled cheese sandwich they ever tasted!” says Tony-winning composer William Finn, who runs Barrington Stage’s Musical Theater Lab around the corner. You can also get a Greek salad or an omelette, but why would you want to pass up a perfect burger?  The Lantern’s steadfast, old-fashioned character extends to its hours: Lamentably, the Lantern is dark on Sundays.

455 North Street; 413.448.2717
Monday - Thursday 10 AM - 8:30 PM; Friday & Saturday 10 AM - 9 PM

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 05/14/09 at 05:11 AM • Permalink

Trattoria Rustica

Rural Intelligence FoodThis backstreet Italian restaurant starts laying on the atmospherics even before you get through the heavy, wooden, strap-hinged door—charming, especially considering that it is the rear entrance of a commercial building on Pittsfield’s South Street.  Inside and down a few steps, the stagecraft continues—exposed brick, dim lighting, white tablecloths over red, a waitress who, while reciting the specials, rolls her r’s impressively.  The food at Trattoria Rustica is classic Neapolitan—Puttanesca, all’Arrabbiata, con Vongole, etc.—well executed and expensive.  Now, to be fair, even when six worldly people, ranging from a Williams professor to an international banking executive, all agree that a restaurant is “too expensive,” you have to consider the circumstances.  None of us was on vacation, nor was this a celebration; rather, a quick get-together before the theatre.  And, admittedly, the one person who ordered the kind of entree that tests a kitchen’s mettle—the rack of lamb—declared it superb (he scrupulously offset the extravagance by not having a salad first).  Still, everyone felt that, good as it was, $105 per couple (not including tip) for tap water, no bread, salads, pastas, and 1.3 glasses of wine each is molto caro. —Marilyn Bethany

26 McKay Street,  413.499.1192
5 p.m. -  closing
Closed Tuesdays.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 10/01/09 at 02:59 AM • Permalink

Sheffield, Massachusetts

Stagecoach Tavern

As you drive down pitch-black Route 41 in Sheffield, MA, you see the twinkling lights outside the venerable Stagecoach Tavern and you wonder if it’s a mirage.  As you head toward the front door, you feel as if you’ve stepped onto a soundstage at MGM circa 1941, where they are shooting a movie set at a quintessential New England tavern.  Your heart skips a beat when you walk inside, because this restaurant is cozy, quirky and authentic with a crackling wood-burning fireplace.  Thankfully, the food is contemporary county cuisine and the chef uses local, organic ingredients whenever possible. The salads ($6 - 7) are large and fresh, the grilled hangar steak ($24) is intensely flavorful and comes with a choice of two sides such as olive oil smashed potatoes, creamed spinach and roasted mushrooms. One regular we know skips the entrees entirely and makes a meal of the sides.

864 S. Undermountain Road (Route 41); 413-229-8585
Thursday 5:30 - 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 5:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Closed Sunday - Wednesday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 01/30/08 at 09:04 AM • Permalink

South Egremont, Massachusetts

The Old Mill

Sited by a rushing creek in a converted 1832 flour mill, this reliable Berkshire perennial has the bona fides to play up the old Ye Olde.  Yet on this and every other front, there’s evidence at The Old Mill of admirable Yankee restraint. The decor, while pleasant, isn’t straining for affect; the chef, while clearly up on the latest, delivers it pretension-free (Soup of Yesterday, $7, is both witty and wise).  Diners even get the chance to indulge in old-fashioned thrift: An ample first-course salad is included with every entrée.  And where else can you follow something as sophisticated as pan-roasted Berkshire pork chop with caramelized apple, Calvados glaze and root vegetable hash ($26) or grilled organic salmon with citrus vinaigrette and a wild-rice risotto cake ($26) with a chocolate ice cream sundae for dessert.

53 Main Street (Route 23); 413.528.1421
Dinner:Tuesday - Sunday beginning 5 p.m.
Sunday brunch 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Closed Mondays

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 02/07/08 at 05:03 AM • Permalink

Southfield, Massachusetts

Southfield Store

Rural Intelligence Food The Berkshire Babe was in heaven. “Wow!“ she said. “This is the best mole I’ve ever had—it’s sweet, smoky, spicy, with layers of flavors. It gets better with every bite.“  The mole, which was served with an astonishingly juicy and flavorful pork tenderloin ($20),  is on the menu every Thursday when the Southfield Store has its Oaxacan Night. Since last year, the Southfield Store—an old general store that was gentrified in restrained Martha Stewart-style by a previous owner—has been owned by Peter Platt and Meredith Kennard of the redoubtable Old Inn on the Green. Now, they’ve let their chef—Gustavo A. Perez who worked with Peter at Wheatleigh years ago—cook the food of his native state on Thursday nights. “It’s hard to find real Mexican food in the Berkshires,“ says Perez, who makes every taco and tostado to order. “That’s why the food comes out slow, but I think it’s worth it,“ he says. It certainly is.

163 Main Street, Southfield MA; 413.229.5050

Breakfast: Monday - Saturday 7 a.m. - 11 a.m;  Sunday brunch 8 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Lunch: 11 a.m - 3 p.m.
Dinner: Thursday - Sunday, 5:30 - 9 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 11/18/08 at 06:32 AM • Permalink

Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Red Lion Inn

Rural Intelligence Food “There is something so reassuring about this dining room,” said my friend the Baltimore Brahmin. He admired the faded flowered wallpaper that whispers Great Aunt Alice, the bud vases filled with fresh Christmas bouquets of holly and mini pinecones, the handsome hotel silver, and the pewter chargers engraved “Red Lion Inn 1773” set on the snowy white tablecloths. Dinner at the Red Lion Inn manages to be New England past, present, and future.  The bowl of clam chowder ($7), which is served with a paper doily underneath like every proper restaurant used to do, tastes just like Cape Cod. An appetizer of five-spice seared tuna ($12) proves that chef Brian Alberg has managed the balancing act of creating modern dishes without jettisoning tradition. Certainly, the handsome prime rib ($32)—two “thin” but hefty slices—served with a jumbo popover, sauteed vegetables and a nostalgic baked potato with sour cream is a comforting, all-American meal. But there’s lighter fare with a contemporary sensibility such as barbecued Scottish salmon with mashed potatoes and collard greens ($27).  Chef Alberg sources as much as he can from local farms and producers and his stunning “flight” of artisan cheeses is awesomely au courant. Each cheese is paired with a sweet or savory: Old Chatham camembert with Braebrun apple; Crawford Family Farm Vermont Ayr with Marcona Almonds; Shelburne Farms cheddar with quince paste; Twig Farm tomme with wildflower honey; Jasper Hill Bayley Hazen Blue with carmelized walnuts. Even if you’re not staying overnight at the inn, dinner at the Red Lion makes you feel like you’ve been on a journey to the heart of America. —Dan Shaw

30 Main Street; 413.298.5545
Breakfast: Monday - Friday 7 - 10; Saturday & Sunday 7:30 - 10:30
Lunch: Monday - Friday 12-2:30 Saturday and Sunday noon - 4:00
Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 5:30 - 9; Friday & Saturday 5:30 - 9:30

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 12/11/09 at 03:39 AM • Permalink

The Lion’s Den

Rural Intelligence FoodThe Lion’s Den, the venerable ratskeller at the Red Lion Inn, is one of the coziest spots in the Berkshires. With its woodburning fireplace, low ceilings and live music seven nights a week, it’s the bohemian soul of the genteel Stockbridge hotel. For logistical reasons, the Lion’s Den does not, alas, share a kitchen with the Widow Bingham’s Tavern upstairs, which is why you could always get an excellent burger and fries in the tavern but never in the den.  Indeed, the den’s burger was a bit of an embarrassment, which is why you won’t find it on the Lion’s Den new menu that executive chef Brian Alberg has put together. While favorites like the French onion soup ($7) remain (and Monday night’s $9.99 spaghetti and meatballs special), Alberg has crafted a menu tilted toward sustainable foods that don’t require an ace line cook. He offers up a generous house-made pistachio-studded pâté ($10) with a pile of cornichons and good toast as well as a satisfyingly light bowl of chile ($8) with fresh tortilla chips. Salads and sandwiches are designed for big appetites and include the Den Cobb Salad with turkey, bacon, avocado, egg & buttermilk ranch dressing($14);  roast turkey with stuffing & cranberry mayonnaise on multigrain bread ($11) and the vegan-friendly grilled eggplant, avocado, hummus & greens on Berkshire Mountain Bakery flaxseed bread ($10). With the new menu, the den has become the quintessential Berkshires pub. —Dan Shaw

30 Main Street; 413.298.5545

Monday - Thursday 4 - 11 p.m. (dinner until 10 p.m.)
Friday 4 - 1 a.m. (dinner until 11 p.m.)
Saturday noon - 1 a.m. (lunch & dinner until 12 a.m.)
Sunday noon - 11 p.m. (lunch & dinner until 11 p.m.)

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 02/09/11 at 06:44 AM • Permalink

The Red Lion’s Courtyard

Rural Intelligence Food The pebbled courtyard nestled behind the venerable Red Lion Inn is a quiet oasis steps from the throngs of tourists on Main Street. With colorful impatiens planted everywhere, it has the pleasant air of an old-money country club that has opened its doors to the public. There’s WiFi so you can check your email (and consult Rural Intelligence) while having a glass of wine or a beer at an umbrella table. The price of admission is easy: For $13 you’ll get a satisfying turkey sandwich or a cheeseburger with fries. While the menu has several salads—Berkshire greens with almonds and goat cheese ($10) and a Caesar salad ($9/$15 with grilled chicken) we wish there were an old-fashioned Cobb or Chef’s salad on the menu for the genuine country-club experience.

30 Main Street; 413.298.5545

Lunch daily: 11:30 - 4
Dinner daily: 5 - 9

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 07/18/08 at 05:44 AM • Permalink

West Stockbridge, Massachusetts

No. Six Depot Roastery and Cafe

Located in West Stockbridge’s old train station, No. Six Depot Roastery and Café  is a serious coffee shop. Owners Lisa Landry and Flavio Lichtenthal travel to farms all over the world to find the highest quality coffee beans. If you’re interested, employees will explain the farming techniques, roasting processes, and blend differences, generously offering tastes to anyone who asks. There are 12 blends of coffee plus espresso, as well as 18 blends of whole-leaf teas carefully selected by Lisa. The café sells their coffee and teas for home brewing, as well as 10 kinds of naturally pure, artisanal salt. Breakfast offers an array of croissants, pain en chocolat, and other home-baked goods, as well as waffles, eggs and homemade granola. For lunch, panini choices include Civito, an Argentine-style seared skirt steak with chimicurri; Porchetta, a slow-roasted pig with truffle aioli, hazelnut gremolata, and lemon-caper aioli; Arbelito, a seasonal vegetarian panini; or a 14-month aged Prosciutto di Parma and local mozzarella and/or tomato. ($9 each). The salads are fresh from local farms and include combinations such as avocado, grapefruit, red onion and mint; fennel, orange and olives; and others ($7 each).

6 Depot Street, West Stockbridge, MA
(413) 232-0205
Open every day (except Tuesday) 8 a.m.—4 p.m.; Open Friday night for dinner 5—9 p.m.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/12/14 at 11:48 AM • Permalink

Rouge

Though it opened within the past decade, Rouge has a Design-Research-meets-flower-child look reminiscent of the ’60s, which may explain why Berkshire-eans of a certain age and persuasion (my own) have taken it to heart.  Another lure: the food is good and generally well-priced.  A huge platter of fried calamari with an excellent house aioli is a steal at $9.  The baby-back ribs (“Best ever!”) with rosemary mashed and an Asian-y slaw is a serious plate of food for $24.  But beware the salad specials: $13 suggests something more robust than a modest plate of greens with a restrained garnish of (alas, unripe) fruit.

3 Center Street; 413.232.4111
Dinner: Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday 5 - 8:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 5 - 9:30 p.m.
Closed Monday & Tuesday

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 01/31/08 at 11:07 AM • Permalink

Williamstown, Massachusetts

Mezze Bistro + Bar

Rural Intelligence FoodAfter fourteen years, Mezze Bistro + Bar has become as integral to life in northern Berkshire County as The Clark, MASS MoCA and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. In June 2010, co-owner Nancy Thomas moved to a new spacious and gracious location just south of town on Route 7. The setting and food could not be more stylish and appropriate for a rural community populated by so many academics and art scholars. A leading proponent of the farm-to-table movement, Thomas encourages chef Joji Sumi to buy as much meat and vegetables as possible from local sources like Cricket Creek and Mighty Food Farms. The menu ranges from an American Charcuterie Plate featuring house-made beef jerky and summer sausage ($10) and roasted beets with Berle Farm yogurt and tarragon oil ($9) to roasted diver scallops with butter-braised radishes ($28) and fettucine Bolognese ($21). —Dan Shaw

777 Cold Spring Road, Williamstown; 413.458.0123
Sunday - Thursday (closed Wednesday) 5 - 9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 5 - 10 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 06/11/10 at 04:40 AM • Permalink

Pera Mediterranean Bistro

Pera Mediterranean Bistro owner Fahri Karakaya was born and raised in Turkey and has years of hospitality management under his belt, most recently at The Breakers in Palm Beach. And it shows in Pera’s warm, relaxing atmosphere and top-notch food. There are no deep-fried falafel balls here – Chef Randall Beaudoin sautees in olive oil, and the result is deliciously flaky spanikopita and the best falafel I’ve ever tasted. The high standards carry over into dinner and dessert:  The lamb for the lamb burger ($10, with arugula, feta cheese, and cusabi dressing) is ground fresh daily; the menu includes seasonal offerings like a summer watermelon salad; and the popular mussels appetizer changes flavors daily. Dinner ($15-$29) is a mix of American and Mediterranean dishes, and includes the popular Calamari Fra Diablo, Mediterranean scrod, and chicken or lamb kebabs. Dessert ($6-$7) includes baklava, gelato from SoCo Creamery, and flourless chocolate cake and Irish whiskey cake from Crazy Russian Girls Neighborhood Bakery located right over the border in Bennington.

60 Spring Street, Williamstown, MA
(413) 458-8676
Open Sunday—Wednesday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 07/11/14 at 10:47 AM • Permalink

Columbia County

Ancram, New York

West Taghkanic Diner

west taghanicRoadside diners, which seem to be an endangered species, hold a special place in our hearts because they harken back to simpler times. For travelers on the Taconic State Parkway, the West Taghkanic Diner (Route 82 /Ancram Exit)—an aluminum diner in perfect condition with its original details and signage proudly in place—is warm, welcoming, familiar, and reliable. The food is a mix of classics and gentrified dishes delivered with great service, good humor, and considerable speed. Some travelers call ahead and bring up an egg sandwich or two on their way north to the Berkshires; others drop in and stay for the Almond-crusted stuffed French Toast, the unimpeachable waffles, or the sweet potato pancakes with real maple syrup. For lunch, the patty melt with homemade onion rings is a guilty pleasure you’ll remember with a faint smile for the entire day. The diner’s many fans include writer and activist Sam Pratt. “One of my favorite places, with solid service and daily specials which are a cut above your typical diner fare,” he says. “I go there all the time—either with local friends, or with houseguests who invariably want to have Sunday brunch at a smalltown diner. I wouldn’t change a thing.” —Dan Shaw

Route 82 at the Taconic Parkway; 518.851.7117
Monday - Thursday: 7 a.m. -9 p.m.
Friday: 7 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Saturday - Sunday 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 07/14/10 at 08:31 AM • Permalink

Chatham, New York

The Blue Plate

Rural Intelligence Food
Tough day?  Everything about The Blue Plate—its name, the intriguing Ragtime-era structure it inhabits (rumored to have been a brothel once), the Marc Rosenthal 3-D cartoon mural that greets you as you step through the door—contrives to make you smile.  Though the design is knowing, with lighting as soothing as a warm bath, the net effect is suitably relaxed and unpretentious.  As is the food: “American bistro with international implications.” Too whipped to tackle the otherwise appealing grilled trout with key-lime butter ($21)?  Go for the comforting meatloaf-and-mashed ($12) instead. Whoever mans the grill here should give lessons: everything is always just as requested. One caveat: The saucing sometimes can be heavy-handed; you may want to ask for it on the side.

1 Kinderhook Street; 518.392.7711
Dinner: Tuesday - Thursday 5:30 - 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 5:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Sunday 5:30 - 9 p.m.
Closed Mondays

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 01/31/08 at 11:38 AM • Permalink

Yianni’s Restaurant

Owned by Peter Stefanopoulos of the Four Brothers family (which also includes George, Christo, William) and fashioned after their fine Boathouse Restaurant in Lakeville, the impressive-looking spot that was formerly inhabited by Lippera’s, Yianni’s offers an extensive menu plus nightly specials showcasing a great deal of variety and dextrous cooking experience, with seafood playing a star role. There’s an American/fine Greek/Japanese air to it all (talk about fusion!), with an abundance of choices from appetizer specialties such as escargot ($9) and Maryland crab cakes ($12) to a variety of seafood, NY strip steak, roasted duck or rack of lamb ($22-$32) in the main course section. Pastas include cioppino ($30) and shrimp and scallop risotto ($28), and, a rarity for the area, a raw bar (with oysters, clambs, shrimp, and a wonderful lump-crab cocktail, from $12-$20). Large salads are offered with various meat options.  In the sushi lineup, there’s the spicy tuna and Housatonic rolls (smoked fresh salmon, roe, and cream cheese; $8 each), fresh and delicious. Meat eaters will enjoy the burger, which comes with excellent steak fries ($12). Prosecco is on the wine list along with an excellent organic wine from Estate Brintzkiki, imported from Greece and distributed by a local Chatham resident, Greco Trading. There are many desserts to choose from, including cheese cake and an old-fashioned root beer float.

Yianni’s Restaurant
29 Hudson Avenue (Rt. 66)
Chatham, NY 12037
(518) 392-7700
Open Monday- Thursday, and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday- Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/10/14 at 10:43 AM • Permalink

Copake, New York

The Greens at Copake Country Club

Rural Intelligence FoodThis is one of those restaurants that you’re tempted to keep a secret. It would be a shame if you had to wait for a table on the deck with its gorgeous views of the lake and the rolling lawns of the public golf course (though the indoor dining room with its circular fireplace in the middle the room is—dare we say?—chic.) The Greens at the Copake Country Club is so off the beaten path that you would never just stumble across it, and yet it is only a couple of miles from Hillsdale and the Route 23 exit for the Taconic State Parkway. Although you will be handed a dinner menu with serious entrees like grilled sea scallops with cellophane noodles in coconut lemongrass broth ($26) and Herondale Farm beef stew ($23), you can also ask for the Club Menu that is filled with hearty bargains such as a turkey club sandwich ($8) and jumbo burger ($9) that come with a mound of fries and cole slaw, and chicken Caesar salad ($10). The folks running this intelligently gentrified golf club seem to understand their diverse clientele so there’s a children’s menu (pasta with butter: $5) as well as a list of local purveyors who supply the restaurant, including Equinox Farm, Farm Girl Farm, Herondale Farm and SoCo Creamery. A brand new covered porch that looks like a rural version of a trendy urban lounge has just opened so you can enjoy cocktails and the views even on a stormy day. Once you visit, you may not want to tell your friends because you’ll be tempted to keep it a secret, too. —Dan Shaw

44 Golf Course Road; 518.325.0019
Sunday - Thursday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m

 

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 06/01/10 at 02:57 AM • Permalink

Hillsdale, New York

Cross Roads Food Shop

Rural Intelligence FoodChef David Wurth has been living and cooking long enough in this area to know you must have crossover appeal to succeed. With his Cross Roads Food Shop, he has created a neighborhood hangout by day and destination dining by night. In the morning, you can linger over coffee and cornmeal pancakes ($5) or grab an egg sandwich ($5) to go. After noon, there are salads with locally sourced ingredients that change with what’s available fresh from the fields (such as, in spring, Brussels sprouts, grated goat cheese, walnuts and wheat berries for $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 there is table service, during which 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). 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.” — Dan Shaw

642 Route 23, Hillsdale, NY 12529 518-325-1461    
Breakfast:  Wednesday - Sunday 9 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Lunch:  Wednesday - Sunday noon - 2:30 p.m.
Dinner:  Friday & Satuday 5:30 - 9:30 p.m.; Sunday 5:30 - 9 p.m.

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Posted by Scott Baldinger on 07/19/12 at 12:44 PM • Permalink

Swiss Hutte

Rural Intelligence Food
There’s something literally fantastic about the Swiss Hutte, a half-timber 19th-century farmhouse that’s been in continuous operation as an inn for over fifty years. Tucked in a hidden valley amid gardens at the foot of Catamount ski slope, it feels half-a-world and at least half-a-lifetime away.  The menu is filled with old-fashioned classics—salmon a la Florentine, beef with bernaise, wienerschnitzel ($28 - $34)—that Zurich-born owner-chef Gert Alpert does to such perfection, you’ll leave in a delusional glow about the good old days. (Trust me, unless you grew up in Europe, the restaurants your parents took you to were not this good.) In summer, opt for the flowery patio; in winter, (no kidding) cheese fondue by the fire?

Route 23, Hillsdale (near the Massachusetts border);  518.325.3333 or 413.528.6200
Lunch:  Friday, Saturday 12 - 2; Sunday 12 -3
Dinner:  Tuesday - Thursday 5:30 - 9; Friday & Saturday 5:30 - 9;30; Sunday 5 - 9
Closed Mondays and, except in summer, Tuesdays

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 05/21/08 at 02:21 AM • Permalink

Hudson, New York

Baba Louie’s

If Hudson Baba Louie’s is Son of Great Barrington Baba Louie’s, then the kid is both bigger and more beautiful than his dad.  But who cares?  At Baba Louie’s, inner beauty is what counts.  We’ve already raved about the salads, the pizzas, the prices (see Great Barrington, above). Once in a while, you owe it to yourself to change course and try the homemade vegetarian, dairy-free soup ($1.95/$3.95), the delicious panini ($6.95-$7.95) or the invariably good evening pasta ($10.95/$15.95) instead.  Bring along a hungry friend; portions are huge.

517 Warren Street; 518.751-2155
Lunch: 11:30 - 3
Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 5 - 9:30; Friday & Saturday 5 - 10
Closed Wednesdays

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 02/12/08 at 09:14 AM • Permalink

Ca’Mea Ristorante

Rural Intelligence Food
Often, going to a restaurant in our area can seem like landing in the middle of Waiting for Guffman—amateurs acting their hearts out badly.  Polished, well-managed Ca’Mea Ristorante is just the opposite.  Two Warren Street storefronts attractively combined, plus, in season, an enormous garden, it also has a bar that’s great for dining (square, with a central bartender, it invites interchange, making it popular with solo diners and couples who’ve already heard what each other has to say).  Upon arriving one Saturday night last summer without reservations, our party of four was surprised that we were able to cadge a table in the garden right away.  The place was hopping, so we kept it simple—salads ($7.50) and pastas ($15 - $17) all around—and braced ourselves for a wait.  Not at all.  Firsts arrived promptly, and within minutes, the steaming bowls came out.  Impressive.  And the food?  Authentically northern Italian, which is to say, delicious, if not the most inventive stuff around.

333 Warren Street; 518.822.0005
Lunch: 12 - 3
Dinner:  5 - 10
Closed: Mondays

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 03/22/08 at 03:04 AM • Permalink

DA / BA

Rural Intelligence FoodMost anywhere in our region it’s a cinch to find a pleasant meal, but to find food that shows evidence of serious culinary imagination married to kitchen competence is much rarer. DA / BA is one such restaurant.  The space is pleasantly designed and softly lit—conducive to a relaxed dinner.  The menu is varied and, if you are in the mood for an adventure, downright exciting.  And the prices are more than fair.  Chef/Owner Daniel Nilsson and Executive Chef Ola Svedman, as their names suggest they might, create Scandivanian-leaning modern food (elk filet, $26). All meals start with a free amuse bouche—one recent evening it was a creamy foie gras soup delivered to the table in a holder containing one small laboratory tube-ful for each in the party, with a sliver of soft bread sticking out—delicious and just enough, given its richness.  Whatever choice follows is guided by appetite, budget, and mood: DA / BA serves ambitious fresh fare in creative, clean flavor combinations— grilled filet mignon with truffle-scented consomme, vegetables, ginger foam, and sunflower choke puree ($26).  And they also serve hearty pub food—a burger with top-notch fries (so easy to accomplish; why so seldom aspired to?).  It’s a generous plate of food for $7. 
 
225 Warren Street, Hudson;  518.249.4631
Monday - Saturday 6 - 10
Closed Sundays

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 09/29/08 at 05:53 AM • Permalink

Helsinki Hudson

Rural Intelligence FoodAt Helsinki Hudson, rock stars offer recommendations: “You gotta get the homemade apple pie a la mode,” says Tommy Stinson, solo artist, erstwhile bassist for post-punk legends the Replacements, current bassman for Guns n’ Roses, and Hudson resident. As he heads off to the nearby stage, we’re eating the last crumbs of our fried okra and pimento cheese crostini appetizers ($6 each). Thanks to chef Hugh Horner’s inspired downhome-meets-continental cuisine, our southern accents are deepening by the minute. Horner’s menu includes everything from chicken potpie ($22) to gumbo ($23), and lots in-between.

The repurposed old Hudson bus terminal is distinctive indeed: dusky hues, stately red brick, high ceilings, and 19th century light poles as supporting columns. Even on a busy night, the waitstaff is a perfect combo of efficient, friendly, and attentive. When our 15-year-old tucks into his Helsinki Burger ($13) he’s very happy. With applewood smoked bacon, roasted Portobello, caramelized onion and NY state cheddar, how could he not be? The dinner special of brined and roasted chicken ($25), served over garlicky kale and puree of parsnips, offers a balance between comfort food and good-for-you. A cornmeal-fried rainbow trout with lemon caper tartar sauce ($23) is light yet deeply satisfying; adding delicious crab to hushpuppies offers a healthful twist to a guilty pleasure. Vegetarians can enjoy vegetable tamales ($14) and roasted golden beet caprese ($11). Perennial sides include grits and collards (both $6). And Stinson was right: the apple pie a la mode was borderline sinful. And he would know. —  Robert Burke Warren

405 Columbia St
Hudson, NY 12534
518-828-4800
The Restaurant is open 5 - 10 p.m.
The Club Serves Dinner 6 - 10 p.m.
Open 7 Days

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Posted by Scott Baldinger on 02/02/13 at 03:48 AM • Permalink

Le Gamin Country

Le Gamin Country is the brainchild of husband and wife team Patrick and Astrid Jehanno. Patrick was executive chef/partner of the original Le Gamin series of restaurants in New York City, and both he and Astrid are long-time veterans of the business. But this restaurant has a personality very different from the ones in the city, and it all starts with the food. There is the classic Quiche Lorraine, a compelling mix of air, cheese and smokiness from the fresh, thick-cut bacon; the French Onion Soup ($7.50), so densely loaded with fresh chicken stock, onions, gruyere cheese and French bread that it makes other restaurants’ versions seem like water knockoffs. The salads are impeccably fresh — try La Salade Nicoise, a French classic; and Endives Au Roquefort Et Pommes Vinaigrette La Lavande, endive salad with Roquefort cheese, apples, and walnuts; both $12.50 and enough to feed two, or the sweet or savory crepes, flawless made ($5 for simple, up to $8.75). There’s usually one dish on their daily menu that could classify as a dinner meal, which might include merguez or mussels.

Le Gamin Country
609 Warren Street, between 6th & 7th Streets
Hudson, NY
(518) 828-2885
Open every day except Wednesday.
Le Gamin is a cash-only establishment.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/24/14 at 10:41 AM • Permalink

Mexican Radio

Don’t let the hardscrabble border-town name and matching décor fool you.  This northern outpost of an acclaimed NYC dining spot is not low end.  Everything at Mexican Radio is freshly chopped and squeezed, and the value is good (entrees, a cut well above the norm, are mostly under $20), as long as you lay off the $7-$11 Margaritas.  But who does?

537 Warren Street; 518 828-7770
Lunch & Dinner: 11:30 - 11 daily

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 01/31/08 at 11:29 AM • Permalink

p.m. Wine Bar

Rural Intelligence FoodYou needn’t be an oenophile to get a kick out of (p.m.) Wine Bar, although, for anyone who is, the Red Wine Flight—three reds plus one tapa @ $20—is an offer that’s hard to pass up.  But there are so many other delights inside this ancient storefront on the older, quieter end of Warren Street.  There’s the witty decor, the tasty tapas (Diablos a Caballo—sundried dates stuffed with Valdeón blue cheese and wrapped in crispy bacon, $9),the sweet owner Kevin Moran behind the bar, and a passel of amusing regulars drinking wines by the glass, $7 - $11; real champagne, $12, or something stiffer from the full bar.  Too peckish for tapas?  A smallish entree, such as a bowl of delicious Spanish beef stew, $11, is always available. —Marilyn Bethany

119 Warren Street; 518.828.2833
Tuesday - Thursday 5 - 10; Friday & Saturday 5 - 12; Sunday 3 to 9
Closed Monday

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 12/28/09 at 06:06 AM • Permalink

Swoon Kitchenbar

Rural Intelligence Food
Is there another restaurant in Columbia County as New Yorky (in a good way) as this smashing place?  Swoon Kitchenbar owner-chef Jeffrey Gimmel, a former top toque at Michael’s, and his partner in all things, Nina Bachinsky-Gimmel, once a pastry chef at the Union Square Café, met while studying cheese making at The Old Chatham Sheepherding Co.  All that training shows in the work: an appetizer of house smoked beef tongue with fingerling potato crisps and cauliflower mustard puree ($10.95); an entrée of chicken fricassee with fennel, celery root and leeks ($22.95).  And for the culinarily cautious, there’s always the skirt steak with mashed ($19.95).
 
340 Warren Street; 518.822.8938
Lunch: Friday - Sunday 12 -3:30 p.m.
Dinner: Thursday, Sunday, Monday 5 - 10; Friday & Saturday 5 - 11
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 02/01/08 at 03:03 AM • Permalink

The Red Dot

Rural Intelligence FoodAnyone who’s curious as to the precise nature and significance of what is happening in upstate New York should check out the bar scene here.  Doesn’t matter when: on a blizzard-y weeknight in February, you’ll find a confluence of young and old, straight and gay, rich and poor, town and gown, business and arts.  Interestingly, all this barrier-blind conviviality hinges on the larger-than-life personality of the owner, Alana Hauptman, who treats everyone the same—as if each were, on the one hand, a celebrity and, on the other, sorely in need of a severe and profane dressing down.  Fortunately, regulars would rather go hungry than leave the bar, so no matter how crowded the Dot appears to be, it’s generally easy to get a table in back.  And in warm weather, there’s a garden that’s the soul of charm.  Oh, and, by the way, they also serve food.  Think: bistro and reasonable.  While Chef Jonathan may not be out to re-invent the wheel—chicken pot pie ($14), steak with red wine shallot butter ($24)—it’s pretty #&!^%@! good.

321 Warren Street; 518.828.3657
Dinner: Monday, Wednesday - Saturday 5 - 10; Sunday 5- 9
Brunch & Lunch: Saturday & Sunday 11 - 3
Closed: Tuesday

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 02/21/08 at 01:02 PM • Permalink

Tortillaville

Rural Intelligence FoodTortillaville is not a restaurant per se, but it does sell 10,000 burritos per year from a truck parked in a high-profile location on the 300 block of Warren Street.  During the winter months, Brian Branigan and Allison Culbertson drive their portable eatery to Big Pine Key and resume business in the Florida Keys. Their fare is tasty, reasonably healthy, and certainly affordable (tacos average $2.50; burritos, $6.50).  The 100 days per year they are in town mark “the season” for many Hudsonians. —Marilyn Bethany

347 Warren Street
Thursday - Sunday, 11:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Memorial Day (possibly a couple of weeks earlier) - October 31

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 01/10/11 at 10:58 AM • Permalink

Vico

Rural Intelligence Food
First-rate Italian food: We’ve all tasted a lot of caponata, but we haven’t tasted a lot of caponata ($7) as good as this.  Regulars at Vico suffer withdrawal each summer when the lasagna al cinghiale ($23), featuring a ferocious wild boar ragu, goes into hibernation.  Add flawless service, and you’d have a great dining experience, but for the harsh lighting and amateurish décor.  In Hudson?  Where every third pedestrian is a designer?  Just open any window and yell, “Help!”

136 Warren St.; 518.828.6529
Lunch: Saturday and Sunday 12 - 3 p.m.
Dinner: Monday and Thursday 5 - 8:30 p.m., Friday 5 - 9:00 p.m, Saturday 3 - 9 , Sunday 3 -8:30 p.m.
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 01/31/08 at 12:30 PM • Permalink

New Lebanon, New York

Blueberry Hill Market & Café

Rural Intelligence Food“This is the best burger I ever ate.”  Such was the reaction of one recent diner at Blueberry Hill Market & Café in New Lebanon, NY, a breakfast and lunch place that opened without fanfare on Memorial Day weekend 2012. That particular burger featured grass-fed beef,  a smear of pesto, a thick slice of heirloom tomato, and melted fresh mozzarella cheese ($8.25). Owner Melanie Hunt is committed to high-quality, local ingredients, including Berkshire Mountain Bakery breads, burgers made from Kinderhook Farm’s grass-fed beef, from-scratch lemonade and iced tea served in quart jars, coffee roasted a couple of miles up the road at Liquid Assets, Ronnybrook Farm Dairy butter and yogurt, and fruits and vegetables from Abode Farm, a CSA “right up that hill,” says Hunt, pointing to a nearby rise where a Shaker community once thrived, where farmer Evan Thaler-Null tills the soil with a horse-drawn plow. Breakfasts, served until 1 p.m., range from scrambled eggs and toast ($2.99) to a cider-bacon-stuffed wafflewith maple-cinnamon butter ($7.99). For lunch, in addition to the grass-fedburger, there’s a less expensive one made from Angus beef ($4.50) and the usual range of sandwiches—tuna and chicken salad, pulled pork and chicken, assorted meat-and-cheese combos. The excitement starts when the plates arrive at table—generous portions, including the fresh-fruit garnish, artfully arranged on old-fashioned willowware. Everything looks beautiful and tastes even better, thanks to superior ingredients and astute execution. Among the desserts, housemade “slab pies” (one recent day, a choice of apple-raspberry or peach-blueberry, for $3.00) stand out. 

Blueberry Hill Market & Café
515 State Route 20
Wednesday - Monday, 6 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays
518.794.2011

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Posted by Scott Baldinger on 09/24/12 at 03:07 AM • Permalink

Old Chatham, New York

Old Chatham Country Store & Café

Rural Intelligence FoodSix years after opening as a place to pick up high-end provisions and enjoy a muffin in the morning or a thoughtfully-conceived and well-constructed salad or sandwich at lunch, Old Chatham Country Store & Café started serving bistro-style dinners by candlelight Thursday - Saturday nights (at the moment, Sundays nights are reserved for private parties).  It was an instant hit.  Co-owner/chefs Brian Albert and Peter Trump run the kitchen with their usual diligence and finesse.  The menu features reliable bistro stand-bys at true-to-the-spirit-of-bistro prices—Wellington Farms pan-roasted chicken ($19) and steak frites ($22)—as well as some more surprising fare, such as duck and spinach-filled wontons, $9; Asian cabbage salad with crispy calamari, $9; an entree of braised lamb shanks with red wine and figs, $20. Every night there is a different fish and vegetarian option. The value is remarkable and extends to the wines.  An $8 glass of Ferrari Carono Merlot (their most expensive by-the-glass red) comes in a goblet so large it contains the equivalent of two. —Marilyn Bethany

639 Albany Turnpike; 518.794.6227
Tuesday ~ Sunday: Breakfast 7:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m. 
Hot food and grill 11:00 a.m. ~ 2:00 p.m.
Cold sandwiches and salads until 3:00 p.m. 
Store closes at 4:00 p.m. 
Dinner is served Friday and Saturday from 5:00-8:30 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 12/22/09 at 05:55 AM • Permalink

Philmont, New York

Local 111

Rural Intelligence FoodA beacon of promise in up-and-coming Philmont, this former filling station, cleverly reconfigured by co-owner/architect Linda Gatter, doesn’t just look like the hippest restaurant around.  As its name implies, the emphasis at Local 111 is on seasonal and locally grown. Grass-fed meat (grilled steak $25) and free-range poultry (roast chicken $20) are everything you’d expect.  But it’s the first courses (beets, olives and potatoes, $6; sausage and peppers, $8) and sides (wilted greens, baked tomatoes, soft polenta with cheese @ $3) that steal the show.  Fortunately, grazing rights are extended to all—any three sides with grilled bread are a mere $8.

111 Main Street; 518.672.7801
Brunch:  Sunday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Dinner: Wednesday - Sunday 5:30 - 9:30 p.m.
Closed Monday and Tuesday

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 01/31/08 at 12:55 PM • Permalink

Dutchess County

Amenia, New York

Serevan

Rural Intelligence Food Food as intricately flavored and nuanced as Serevan‘s tends to be served in uptight, pretentious surroundings, but this pretty restaurant (just three-minutes from the Wassaic train station) is pleasantly laid back.  Why is the food so good? Owner Serge Madikian, the grandson of an Armenian immigrant who grew up in Iran, has worked alongside some of the best chefs of his generation, including David Bouley and Jean-George Vongerichten. He puts everything he’s ever learned about cooking into dishes such as Chicken Bastilla with Orange-Curry Emulsion ($21), Pan Seared Branzino with Cumin Scented Hummus and Preserved Lemons ($25), and Rack of Lamb with Madjoul Dates and Dried Limes ($29) Dessets like Orange Blossom Panna Cotta ($8) are equally exotic and delicious.

6 Autumn Lane (aka Route 44): 845-373-9800
Dinner: Thursday - Monday 5 - 10

Closed Tuesday & Wednesday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 01/30/08 at 08:18 AM • Permalink

Bangall, New York

Red Devon

Rural Intelligence FoodIn a region where every other restaurant is off the beaten path, Red Devon in the hamlet of Bangall (in the town of Stanford, between Millbrook and Pine Plains) can be challenging to get to if you are not familiar with these back roads. But it is worth going out of your way because there is a chef in the kitchen who knows how to take first rate local ingredients and optimize their essential flavors. There’s nothing more commmonplace than a roasted-beet-and-goat-cheese salad, but Red Devon’s version is exemplary; each element works to support the other like musicians in really good band. A special appetizer of crispy pork belly ($15) came with green lentils, pickled ramps and fresh chervil; the crisp pork was countreintuitively melt-in-your mouth crisp. It’s clear that the chef has an affinity for pork; the seared pork “porterhouse” au poivre ($27) was another winner and so were its accompaniments—thick steak fries that had an earthy potatoness and wilted escarole in hot bacon dressing.  And while having a full dinner can be expensive, we were handed a bar menu in the handsome main dining room that features homemade hot dogs ($5.99 with sauerkraut and $6.99 with chile and cheese) and southern fried chicken ($18) But it’s not just the food that is spot on: the young, attractive servers have been well-trained and they are unfailingly polite. The dining room is at once airy and cozy—a place you want to linger with a brandy or second cup of coffee. Red Devon is definitely worth a detour. Note: Closed January through March.


108 Hunns Lake Road; 845.868.3175

Friday and Saturday:  6 -9:30 p.m.
Sunday: 5 -8 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 04/18/09 at 05:24 AM • Permalink

Hyde Park, New York

Apple Pie Bakery Café

Rural Intelligence FoodFor most of us, there is life, then there is lunch.  At The Culinary Institute of America, life and food are one.  Some of the classrooms look like sets for tv cooking shows.  Others look like—in fact are—restaurant kitchens.  The campus has five restaurants that are open to the public.  All are staffed by students of varying degrees of expertise under the tutelage of accomplished industry professionals.  The busiest of these is Apple Pie Bakery Café, where pastry chef Francisco Migoya reigns supreme.

Migoya, who polished his craft at the French Laundry, Bouchon Bakery, and Bouchon Bistro, is having quite a year.  His recently published book, The Modern Café, has been nominated for a James Beard Award for the year’s best new book aimed at professional restaurateurs and chefs.  And just one week after that honor was announced, Dessert Professional magazine declared Migoya one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in the United States.

Monday - Friday, from 7:30 a.m. when its doors open, until 11 a.m., Migoya’s domain is perhaps more high-end bakery than café—as fine a place as exists on this earth for a breakfast of baked goods—muffins ($2.50), croissants ($2.95), brioche ($3.50), Danish ($1.95 - $2.95)—and excellent coffee of all kinds, including French press.  Each morning there also is a featured latte; i.e., Nutella-flavored with a scattering of finish salt.  After 11, lunch service begins and continues throughout the afternoon to 5 p.m. Salads, sandwiches, soups—typical cafe categories, if not fare: The Spring Pea Salad ($9.95), a green-on-green melange of English, snow, and sugar snap peas with arugula in a champagne vinaigrette with toasted almonds and grated dry-aged goat cheese is so complex and engaging, it hardly needs the crispy prosciutto it is offered with for just $1 more.  A truffled grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough with crispy speck is delicious; but it is the side of kale chips and lemon aioli that won our hearts ($12.95).  We’re already plotting what we will order the next time: steamed Chinese pork buns with a cucumber and chili salad ($10.95) or perhaps the short rips braised in beer served with coddled eggs, shoestring fries, and a side of mache ($11.95).  These may be accompanied by wines by the glass ($5.75 - $7) or a range of mostly micro-brewery beers ($3.75 - $4.50).

But it is Migoya’s show-stopping confections that steal the spotlight here.  In The Modern Café, he devotes just 100 pages out of a total of 550 to savories.  Nearly every one of those remaining pages is filled with glorious baking and pudding-making recipes and techniques.  Desserts—a big MACaron (mango jelly, pistachio buttercream, raspberry gel, and chocolate ganache @$5.95) or a slice of chocolate XS cake, a rich, flourless cake of 61% dark chocolate mousse ($5.95); or perhaps just a big carrot-cake cookie filled with vanilla cream cheese ($2.95)—are delightful.  The whole pies and cakes, which are meant to be taken out, are nothing short of astonishing.  For $29.95, one can treat a dinner host or a loved one celebrating a birthday to an exquisitely moist chocolate-buttermilk cake layered with chocolate chantilly and iced in fondant. Or a Red Velvet Pillow Cake, above ($24.95).       

The term café is thrown around loosely to describe any restaurant, from a greasy spoon to a bistro, that is inexpensive.  CIA’s Apple Pie Bakery Café delivers on the not-too-expensive, but apart from that, it is a café in a class by itself. —Marilyn Bethany

U.S. Route 9
Monday- Thursday 11:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Friday - Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday 12 - 9:30 pm
Closed on school holidays; check schedule.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 04/13/11 at 09:50 AM • Permalink

Bocuse Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America

The Bocuse Restaurant is The Culinary Institute’s version of Chez Bocuse, a $3 million classroom, where students learn what it would be like to cook and serve in a French restaurant with aspirations to Michelin stars. But the fare placed on your table is not a slavish tribute to classic French recipes. Helped along by contemporary kitchen innovations like sous vide and dry ice machines, it’s more like Star Wars meets Escoffier. The meal preface is an amuse bouche, a tidbit to “amuse the mouth”—in this case a postage stamp-sized ravioli in truffle sauce. The main courses are tiny, displayed like origami on hubcap-sized plates. The Dungeness crab or “Dormeu” ($9) which proved to be a brick of shredded crab with flecks of avocado and orange,  was as fresh as if just removed from an Alaskan fishing boat. The main course choice for this review was identified as Pintaude a l’Etue — a slow-cooked guinea hen placed on a breathtaking sauce. Chocolate and Chocolate dessert produced two chocolate pastries accompanied by Grand Marnier and delivered in a frozen thimble ($12 and worth the calories).

The Bocuse Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America
1946 Campus Drive (Route 9), Hyde Park, NY
(845) 471-6608
Open: Tuesday through Saturday
Lunch: 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
Dinner: 6–8:30 p.m.
Closed on Sundays, Mondays and major holidays.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/09/14 at 02:50 PM • Permalink

Millbrook, New York

Café Les Baux

Rural Intelligence FoodThis cozy French bistro, with a real French owner/chef, Herve Bochard, in the kitchen, is la vrai chose.  Tucked away on a Millbrook side street, it has been a popular stand-by for nearly 25 years (lucky Millbrook), its name a reference to Les Baux-de-Provence.  As implied, the menu seldom strays from authentic Southeastern France regional classics such as moules frites ($19), steak frites ($25), duck breast with a port-wine reduction ($24), all perfectly prepared and presented.  There is nothing chi-chi about Café Les Baux, either in the decor or on the menu.  It’s the consistent quality that turns first-time diners into regulars and keeps them coming back year-after-year.  Our advice: reserve ahead, especially for dinner on weekends. —Marilyn Bethany

152 Church Street; 845.677.8166
Lunch: 12 - 2:30
Dinner: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 5 - 9; Friday & Saturday 5 - 10
Closed Tuesday

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 06/05/09 at 03:53 AM • Permalink

Millerton, New York

Harney Tea Bar

Rural Intelligence FoodIf you know any Ladies Who Lunch, send them to the Harney Tea Bar, where they will sit side by side with local artists and shopkeepers.  There is something genteel but not-at-all fussy about the ambiance and food here, which ranges from fish tacos with chipolte creme fraiche ($10) to a duo or trio of grass-fed beef “sliders” (photo) served with dijon aioli, caramelized onions and celeriac remoulade ($9/$10). The European-style sandwiches and salads are named after members of the far-flung Harney clan and reflect their personalities: The Brigitte ($7) is simply a baguette with prosciutto or ham and French butter; the Mimi ($7), which can be made as a panini, has tomato, mozzarella pesto, and oil & vinegar;  the Elyse salad ($9) is a combination roasted red pepper, artichoke hearts, Pecorino Romano, oil and Balsamic vinegar.  Chef Lee Morton makes sure every plate (many of which are made by local potter Dana Brandwein) looks too-good-to-eat, while Alex Harney bustles around the dining room and outside tables, making sure everyone feels well cared for. Naturally, there’s an extensive assortment of the family’s famous teas and to accompany them there’s a plate of excellent scones ($3) served with clotted cream and jam.

1 Railroad Plaza; 518.789.2121

Monday - Saturday 11 AM - 4 PM; Sunday: 11 AM - 3 PM

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 05/12/09 at 03:00 AM • Permalink

Manna Dew

The other night at Manna Dew, a couple in their twenties played chess at the bar as they sipped Shiraz from oversized goblets, a reflection of this wine bar/restaurant’s hybrid appeal.  Manna Dew encourages hanging out (there’s an open mike on Thursdays and live music on Fridays), but it also has serious culinary ambitions with dishes such as truffled mushroom risotto ($19), artichoke crusted salmon ($24), and pan seared duck breast in a pear brandy demi glace ($23).  Located in an old Victorian house just a few doors down from The Moviehouse, Manna Dew stays real with a great burger ($11) and a curried tofu vegetable stir fry with coconut basmati rice ($15). No wonder fuzzy faced twenty-somethings and fuzzy-brained sixty-somethings dine here side by side in harmony.

54 Main Street; 518-789-3570

Dinner: Thursday 5:30 - 9:30; Friday & Saturday 5:30 - 10;
Sunday 5:00 - 9:30; Monday 5:30 - 9:30
Closed Tuesday (& Wednesday in the winter months)

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 02/09/08 at 04:30 AM • Permalink

No. 9

Rural Intelligence FoodWho would dare open a white tablecloth restaurant in this economy? A young couple like chef Tim Cocheo, 31, and his wife, Taryn, 30, who were half the team behind the now-shuttered Bottle Tree Grocery in Ancram, which had a cult-like following for its $49 prix fixe dinners on Friday and Saturday nights and its decadent Sunday brunch. Now, the Cocheos have opened No. 9 Restaurant and given the dining room at Millerton’s Simmon’s Way Village Inn a Cinderella makeover. From the street (the address is Main Street, but the entrance is on Century Boulevard), the restaurant gives off a golden glow that fills you with optimism. When you walk in the door, you are not disappointed: the dining room feels like a warm embrace—mustard walls with wainscoting painted a Provençal green, brass sconces with silk shades that cast a flattering light, a large, homey patterned carpet (donated by Joan Osofsky of Hammertown Barn), and a state-of-the-art sound system playing the kind of music that makes you feel like you’re at a really swell dinner party.  And in a way you are: Cocheo—who cooked in New York at the late, great La Caravelle and Wallse and then at Wheatleigh in Lenox, MA, before moving to the Bottle Tree—is a serious chef.  He brings a haute cuisine mindset to country cooking, and he’s put together a small menu with great variety. The first courses include a delicate yellowtail crudo with lemon confit, sea beans, jicama and Tuscan olive oil ($14), an earthy porcini mushroom risotto with truffle foam that’s not the least bit fussy ($13), and Sky Farm field greens with Coach Farm goat cheese ($8). The entrees range from a Herondale Farm chicken ballotine stuffed with wild mushrooms ($23) and grilled Scottish salmon with Champagne sauce ($23) to Weinerschnitzel with lingonberries and potato-cucumber salad ($22) to the No. 9 Herondale beef burger that’s served with French fries ($12).  The desserts include a rich, deconstructed ice cream “sandwich” and a light pumpkin souffle served with crème anglaise. This is a restaurant where you want to linger over a second cup of coffee or a third glass of wine, because being at No. 9 gives you that elusive feeling that all’s right with the world. —Dan Shaw

53 Main Street, Millerton; 518.592.1299
Dinner: Tuesday - Saturday 5:30 - 10
Closed: Monday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 11/04/09 at 06:11 AM • Permalink

Taro’s

Rural Intelligence Food Taro’s is a gentrified pizzeria right next to the rail trail  in Millerton, which not only has generous portions but a generous spirit.  All of the entrees—eggplant Parmesan ($13.95), chicken rustico ($14.95), veal Florentine ($15.95)—come with soup or salad and a side of pasta as well as a basket of warm bread. My friend the Garden Guru, who eats like a bird, is overwhelmed by the size of the portions so she demurs when offered the soup or salad. But the vivacious waitress tells her, “Then take the soup to go home! You’re already paying for it!” She brings the Garden Guru a plastic container labeled “Minestrone, March 17”  so that it is easy to identify in her refrigerator. (The Garden Guru also always orders a side of green vegetables and then takes home half of everthing which becomes lunch for the next few days.) My current favorite is the beef-and-sausage lasagna ($13.95) which is too good not to finish, so I, alas, never go home with leftovers. For anyone who grew up going to family-run Italian joints, Taro’s is a restaurant that feels like an old friend, and it’s so old-fashioned that it does not take credit cards—cash only.

18 Main Street; 518.789.6630
Monday - Thursday 11:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Friday- Saturday 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 03/23/09 at 04:01 AM • Permalink

The Oakhurst Diner

Rural Intelligence FoodThe guys who run the Oakhurst Diner—what everyone in town still calls the Millerton Diner—are teases. Since opening quietly a few months ago, they have been handing out a menu with breakfast on one side and lunch & dinner on the other, but they have yet to serve a waffle or an omelette. “We wanted to start things slow and get everything right,” says co-owner John Panzer. They’re doing something right because the diner has been packing them in six nights a week, even without a liquor license that is due soon. The crossover menu is designed to appeal to both the pick-up truck and Range Rover sets—and, yes, that is Ancramdale farmer Jerry Peele eating one of his own grass fed Herondale Farm burgers ($6.99 with homemade fries) at one of the refurbished booths. The late Jill Clayburgh raved about the roasted mushrooms and asparagus with Hollandaise, and Panzer reports that the best-seller on the menu is the prosaic Chicken Dinner ($14.99): half a roast chicken with dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce. “It’s all local except the cranberries because nobody does it better than Ocean Spray,” says co-owner Paul Harney. The menu is a tightly focused mix of diner classics like meatloaf ($14.99) and milkshakes ($3.99) and trendy salads such as frisée with bacon and a poached egg ($6.99) and a big bowl of retro-chic iceberg lettuce with cherry tomatoes and chunks of hanger steak accompanied by a bottle of the house vinaigrette ($12.99.) They promise to start serving lunch on August 16, but they are holding off on breakfast until they have both lunch and dinner running like clockwork. —Dan Shaw

19 Main Street; 518.592-1313
Sunday - Thursday 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 08/11/10 at 06:52 AM • Permalink

Pawling, NY

Forrest’s Sidestreet Café

Rural Intelligence FoodBefore the most recent wave of trendy food trucks doling out multi-culti tacos or Dutch-sounding ice cream, there were classic canteens like Forest’s Sidestreet Café. Owned and operated by Lynne and Ken Forrest, this unassuming roadside chuck wagon serves up good - and not just “good for a food truck”- solid fare from a friendly lot on Old Route 22. Year- round locals come out for Sabrett dogs and piping-hot seasoned fries. Summer residents take advantage of the truck’s extended Friday evening hours for a juicy burger and tangy homemade lemonade, enjoyed leisurely at powder-blue picnic tables.  After 22 years, the Forrests still love cooking together in that galley and it shows. Sip on house-brewed iced tea ($1.00) while you contemplate your order. Then, go traditional with a hot Italian sausage under caramelized peppers and onions ($4.50) or a grilled chicken sandwich with the works ($4.75). Kids will love the crispy chicken nugget meal ($4.00) while vegetarians have plenty of delectable options like the fried breaded eggplant sandwich ($4.50) or veggie burger ($4.50). At such great prices, try a bit of everything.– Silka Glanzman

6 Old Rte 22; 845.878.6571
April through October, Wednesday – Sunday 11:00 - 3:00
November through March, Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 3:00
First Friday in June through Last Friday in September, 11:00 until dark

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Posted by Silka Glanzman on 10/02/12 at 10:28 AM • Permalink

Pine Plains, New York

Stissing House Restaurant & Tavern

After 20 years running the pioneering SoHo bistro Provence, Michel & Patricia Jean finally moved full-time to their weekend house in Dutchess County and purchased the landmark Stissing House, a quintessential New England inn, which just so happens to be in New York State not far from the Taconic Parkway.  You can have a romantic dinner à deux in front of a fireplace in one of the smaller dining rooms or join the convivial crowd in the historic tavern.  When you order dishes like onion soup ($7), pan-seared duck breast with cherry port reduction ($23) and shell steak that comes with a choice of luscious Béarnaise or pepper-cognac sauces ($28), you can’t imagine anything tasting more authentically French and appropriate to the Hudson Valley.

Route 199 & Route 82; 518-398-8800
Lunch: Saturday & Sunday
Dinner: Thursday - Sunday

 

 

 

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 02/13/08 at 06:23 AM • Permalink

Poughkeepsie, New York

Artist’s Palate

Rural Intelligence FoodIf the Artist’s Palate were the bellwether for Poughkeepsie, then you’d expect the downtown to be filling up with boutiques and galleries. But three-and-a-half years after it opened, the Artist’s Palate (photographed by Laura Krier) remains the only serious place to eat in the neighborhood. Chef/owners Charles and Megan Fells are obvioulsy people who have faith in Poughkeepsie’s potential because they have created the sort of urbane, contemporary restaurant that you would expect to find in Portland (Oregon or Maine) but remains an anomaly in this slowly gentrifying city. (And they’re expanding next door to open a venture called Canvas, which will be a wine bar that can be rented out for parties.) The Artist’s Palate is an apt name because everthing about this restaurant feels like it was styled by a high-powered LA art director who was instructed to create a trendy, sophisitcated and lively downtown restaurant with an open kitchen ready for a film crew. The ambitious ever-changing menu is enticingly eclectic: first courses range from smoked Huson Valley trout to roasted marrow bones, and entrees (which all come with a small side salad) include hanger steak served with truffle-dusted fries and fresh grilled fishes. The restaurant looks band-box new because the walls are painted every two months when a new art exhibition is installed. During the week, bare wooden tables gives the Artist’s Palate a casual and boisterous bistro feel, but on weekends, it becomes a candlelit white tablecloth restaurant that is elegant enough for an important celebration.  Around the corner from the historic Bardovon Theatre,  it’s a superb place to dine after watching an HD broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera or strolling across the new Walkway Over the Hudson. —Dan Shaw

307 Main Street; 845.843.8074
Lunch: Monday - Friday beginning at 11 a.m
Dinner: Monday - Saturday beginning at 5 p.m.
Closed Sunday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 10/20/09 at 04:12 AM • Permalink

Crave

Rural Intelligence Food
There’s now delicious incentive to stroll Walkway Over the Hudson: Crave.

Chef-owner Ed Kowalski, a Culinary Institute of America alum, opened this stylish, contemporary American restaurant in December 2009.  Located on Washington Street, Crave is directly accessible from the Walkway, thanks to a newly installed stairway adjacent to the restaurant, connecting the pedestrian bridge to street level. 

With Kowalski, you get two eateries at one stop.  Back in 2005—before Crave—Kowalski opened Lola’s, a catering company and café, in the building next to his present full-blown restaurant. It was the first new business in this transitional neighborhood.  Lola’s Cafe, which serves homemade soups, vegetarian salads, sandwiches, wraps and panninis (all under $10), was an instant hit, bringing more traffic into the area.  The Walkway has brought even more.  “The block is really on the upswing,” says Kowalski.

Last year, when the space next to Lola’s became available, Kowalski was finally able to realize his dream of opening a “romantic, intimate and essentially American” restaurant in Poughkeepsie.  Kowalksi and his wife Laurie, a co-owner, transformed what had previously been a ramshackle, rowdy college bar into a cozy 32-seat restaurant, done in warm earth tones with soft lighting.  You can also dine al fresco on the enclosed 20-seat patio.

The kitchen boasts not just one, but three CIA-trained chefs: Kowalski, 38, executive chef Catherine Williams, 29, and sous chef Craig Capano, 25. 

The staff is friendly and obliging.  The menu, which changes seasonally and sources locally whenever possible, features updated, pan-American favorites, often with fusion flourishes.  You might expect the crab cakes, “maple lacquered” salmon, or filet mignon.  But you might not expect Cuban-style pork belly with pear mostarda ($11); Asian-style barbecue-glazed baby octopus ($10); or sea bass served with spicy, coconut peanut soba noodles ($25).

Overall, the cooking is done with thought and care.  Main dishes are well-executed, if a bit hearty during the summer season.  The pan-roasted duck is a signature dish—“we can’t take it off the menu!” said executive chef Williams.  Understandably so.  The duck, toothsomely tender and pink inside, with perfectly crisped skin, comes with a creamy mash of polenta, topped with foie gras and Swiss chard ($28).  While tasty, the wild striped bass, served with a too-crunchy ratatouille of summer squash, artichoke hearts, haricots verts and an overabundance of green and black olives, didn’t quite hang together ($25). 

Save room: Crave’s retro American desserts, from homemade S’mores (a chocolate peanut terrine topped with homemade marshmallows and banana custard ice cream), to lemon pound cake with honey-mascarpone cream, are an all-out indulgence.

Now open from 2 p.m. on weekends, Crave provides a lovely respite for walkers in need of repast or a glass of wine. —Kathryn Matthews

129 Washington Street; 845-452-3501
Poughkeepsie
Tuesday - Saturday, 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday brunch, 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sunday, 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Closed Monday
 
Lola’s Cafe and Catering
131 Washington Street; 845-471-8555
Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 08/29/10 at 07:24 AM • Permalink

Red Hook, New York

Flatiron

Rural Intelligence FoodWhen Flatiron Restaurant in Red Hook opened in August 2008, it was an instant hit, filling a void for red meat lovers in this part of northern Dutchess County.  This contemporary steakhouse gives surf and turf a creative twist, by way of USDA Prime-grade steak ($15-$29); a shortlist of burgers (served on a house-made English muffin; $10-$16); sausage ($9); and seafood (from grilled shrimp, to caramelized scallops; $20-$24). 

Craig Stafford and his wife, Jessica Stingo, the thirtysomething co-owners, named their restaurant after Manhattan’s Flatiron district, where they first met, while working at Giorgio’s of Gramercy, an eclectic American restaurant. 

Stafford, a Culinary Institute of America alumnus, has crafted a well-edited, seasonal and local-leaning menu that offers something for everyone.  There is steak, of course: three cuts, including hanger steak (6 or 10 oz.; $15/$19), filet mignon (6 or 10 oz., $18/$28) and a 16 oz. rib-eye ($29)—served with your choice of a half-dozen house-made sauces—plus steak tartare ($12) as an appetizer.  But, with non-meat choices that include salads, vegetable sides, a soup, a pasta (such as sweet potato gnocchi, $17) and a vegetarian burger option (roasted eggplant and organic brown rice, $10), vegetarians can feel equally comfortable grazing here. 
 
Flatiron’s winning combination—toothsome fare, friendly service and a low-key, kick-back vibe—keeps diners coming back for more. —Kathryn Matthews

7488 South Broadway
Red Hook; 845-758-8260
Wednesday-Thursday 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 5 p. m. - 10:30 p.m.
Sunday 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 03/30/11 at 06:11 AM • Permalink

Mercato Osteria and Enoteca

Rural Intelligence Food Close your eyes: you could be in Italy at this cozy, convivial osteria, magnet for Bard faculty, students, weekenders, locavore foodies and Italianophiles.  Chef Francesco Buitoni, a seventh generation member of the Italian pasta-manufacturing family, and his wife, Michele Platt, keeps things casual and inexpensive at Mercato, in keeping with the spirit of a traditional family-run osteria, a place to enjoy good glass of wine (an excellent, all-Italian list, with over a dozen by the glass) and delectable, (Italian) home-style dishes, where you can taste the love.  The menu changes weekly, highlighting fresh pastas and seasonal, locally grown produce and meats:  Northwind Farms chicken liver bruschetta,with aged balsamic and sage ($7); handmade ravioli filled with Coach Farm ricotta and spinach with brown butter sauce ($13); and whole roasted branzino served with Migliorelli Farm escarole and black beluga lentils ($25).  Weekends are always busy, so call in advance to reserve a table.  Or, if you’re just two, consider eating at the sleek Carrara marble top bar that has a bird’s eye view of the bustling dining room and open kitchen. —Kathryn Matthews

61 East Market Street (Route 199); 845.758.5879
Wednesday - Thursday, 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Friday - Saturday, 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Sunday,  5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Closed Monday & Tuesday

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 05/20/10 at 07:44 AM • Permalink

Rhinebeck, New York

Arielle

Rural Intelligence FoodTwo-year old Arielle, a French-Mediterranean-inspired bistro, has been a lovely addition to East Market Street.  Owners Nick and Patricia Rebraca (of Belvedere Mansion b & b renown) have got the French country house look just right—a rustic main dining room with exposed wood beams, deep-cushioned toile banquettes and low-lighting; a gilded upstairs dining room; and a stained-glass window café extension, with two tables for dining alfresco (Ah, Provence!).

The staff is friendly and accommodating.  An eclectic menu, which features a mix of classic and modern bistro fare, including burgers, brochettes and pastas, strives to have something for everyone.  And it’s hard to resist the $14.50 prix fixe brunch (two courses with a Mimosa) on Sundays.

A recent change of chefs finds ex-sous chef Evan Van Horn presiding in the kitchen, replacing former executive chef, Darek Tidwell, who was lured to Washington D.C. by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group.

This transition has not been seamless.  Dishes can be hit-or-miss, arriving under- or over-seasoned.  Demerits go to a too-chunky tuna tartare ($9), a nicely grilled, but utterly bland “Moroccan-spiced” salmon ($18), and overly salty “rosemary pomme frites” ($6) with no hint of rosemary (save for a torched sprig on top).  A thumbs-up for the light and lemony baby arugula salad ($7), and three gold stars for a toothsome, perfectly grilled branzino served on a bed of haricot verts, artichoke hearts and olives ($20).  The good stuff shows the kitchen’s potential to match the charm of the setting. —Kathryn Matthews

51 E. Market Street; 845-876-5666
Monday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Friday - Saturday: 11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.
Sunday:  10 a.m - 8:30 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 07/28/10 at 04:27 AM • Permalink

Bread Alone

Rural Intelligence FoodFor over a decade, discerning carb lovers in search of artisan breads—French sourdough (levain), whole wheat sourdough (miche), baguettes, challah, peasant bread—have found their way to Bread Alone in Rhinebeck village.  There they’ve also found pastries—croissants, danishes, muffins and scones ($2.75 - $3)—all baked fresh daily at the Bread Alone bakery across the river in Boiceville.  (There’s a third branch in Woodstock.)

Founder Daniel Leader, a certified organic baker, co-owns this “European-style café” with his wife Sharon Burns-Leader.  His latest book, Simply Great Breads, is geared toward home bakers.

Bread Alone gets the basics—coffee, eggs, soups, salads and sandwiches—right.  Very right.  For those in a whole-grain frame of mind, breakfast options include multi-grain house-made citrus oatmeal ($5.75), whole-grain granola ($4.25) and whole grain pancakes ($7.50). Egg-themed dishes ($4.95-$9) include Huevos Benedicto, two poached eggs with saffron hollandaise on a corn muffin ($9), a “Country Scramble” of three eggs, smoked ham, scallions and Old Chatham camembert ($9), and a continental-style omelet ($8.50) served with roasted potatoes and French sourdough toast.  All eggs come from Feather Ridge Farm in nearby Elizaville (Columbia County).

Lunch salads ($4 - $6) are generous.  The list of paninis, sandwiches and open-faced tartines ($8-$10) include such updated classics as smoked turkey club with applewood bacon, avocado, and greens, and roast beef and cheddar sandwich with horseradish crème fraiche, all between slices of artisanal organic breads.  Especially memorable: a Portobello tartine with goat cheese and caramelized onions on grilled organic whole-wheat sourdough. —Kathryn Matthews

45 East Market Street, 845.876.3108
Bakery counter: Daily, 7 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Dining Room:  Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 05/08/11 at 09:13 AM • Permalink

Cinnamon Indian Cuisine & Bistro

Shiwanti and Chaminda Widyarathna came to Rhinebeck from Sri Lanka, the island we once called Ceylon, located off the southern tip of India proper. This explains why their menu at Cinnamon Indian Cuisine & Bistro offers a generous serving of South Indian specialties, dishes like Lamb Ularthiyathu, simmered in a spicy coconut milk sauce typical of the southern state of Kerala, and the lovely okra based Bandakka Beduma, stir fried with fresh spices typical of Ceylon. Not surprisingly for island inhabitants, Sri Lankans are experts with seafood; this is evident in the many delicious presentations offered here. Three different curries feature halibut — the Chef’s Special Fish Curry ($18.25) is a particularly fine one, redolent with tamarind juice and green chili. There is also sea bass and oodles of shrimp; five different shrimp dishes are listed on the current menu. Cinnamon also offers North Indian specialties, including eight different tandooris, ranging from New Zealand lamb chops to sea bass. The Uttar Kakori Kebab ($18.50) is a delicious kebab of ground lamb and spices grilled in the tandoor. A range of Indian bread ($3.50-$3.95) arrives piping hot from the kitchen — puri, paratha, many types of delicious nan, as well as chapati, the large, whole wheat flatbread that is a staple across the entire subcontinent of India.

Appetizers range from a South Indian take on calamari ($9.00)— exceptionally good and unusually spicy with peppers and onions — to the wonderful veggie Samosa Chat ($6.95), a salad of samosa pieces and chick peas dressed in a scrumptious yogurt dressing. Not to be missed is the Lasuni Gobi ($7.00), a semi-miraculous transformation of cauliflower [shown above]. Vegetarians have many options, either as main courses — Wambatu Moju, an unusual and delicious Sri Lankan eggplant dish made with whole baby eggplant — or among the numerous appetizers and soups. For carnivores, the various lamb curries ($17.00) are highly recommended. These can range from quite hot to not at all; just express your preference. A lunch buffet is served throughout the week, with a special buffet on Sunday nights. Offerings often include seafood and multiple vegetarian options.

Cinnamon Indian Cuisine & Bistro
5856, Route 9
Rhinebeck, NY
(845) 876-7510
Open Wednesday through Monday
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., until 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays
Dinner: 5 p.m to 9 p.m.; 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays
Closed Tuesdays

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/24/14 at 12:10 PM • Permalink

Gigi Trattoria

Gigi Trattoria is so lively and chic no one would suspect there’s a dietitian calling the shots.  Owner/registered dietitian Laura Pensiero calls the food here “Hudson Valley Mediterranean.” We call it refreshing.  Just when you think you know the Italian restaurant repertoire by heart, along comes crispy calamari-and-zucchini ($12.95); braised lamb shank with roasted vegetables and maple pumpkin polenta ($24.95); gnocchi with gorganzola cream and caramelized celery root ($11.50 or $16.50).  For those who prefer the tried-and-true, there are thin-crusted “skizzas” (individual flatbread pizzas, $9.75 - $12.50), and an astonishing rib-eye with fries (32 oz serves two, at least, for $39.95). Don’t be put off if the place looks packed. Somehow, they always manage to seat you in a blink.
 
6422 Montgomery Avenue; 845.876.1007
Open Tuesday - Sunday, 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 01/31/08 at 01:00 PM • Permalink

Market St.

Chef Gianni Scappin scores another hit with Market St., his two-year-old homestyle Italian restaurant in the heart of Rhinebeck. During a recent visit, we started with rich, flavorful grass-fed beef meatballs with tomato and organic polenta ($8.50), a perfectly balanced bruschetta Parma with mozzarella, prosciutto, olive oil and aged balsamic ($9.50), and a simple salad of roasted beets, Coach Farm goat cheese and arugula ($11.50) dressed with a tangy vinaigrette. The wood oven pizzas and breads are a major presence on the menu (not surprising, considering Scappin made the wood-burning oven Market St.’s focal point). Try the Caprina (fig-herb spread, Coach Farm goat cheese, pear, arugula and truffle oil, $17) or Boscaiola (mixed mushrooms, mozzarella, tomato and herbs, $16.50). They’re cooked perfectly, with crispy, thin crusts and complementary flavors that provide maximum impact. Pastas and risottos are hard to resist — they’re bursting with top-quality ingredients, and gluten-free and whole-wheat options are available. But save room; Satisfying main dishes like a slowly baked salmon with snap peas, potato puree, and black truffle vinaigrette ($26) and a local aged ribeye steak with crispy fingerling potatoes, chickpeas, sage and spicy aioli ($32) are waiting for your enjoyment, too. Specialty cocktails and homemade sodas are available. —Andrea Pyros

Market St.
19 West Market Street, Rhinebeck
(845) 876-7200
Monday through Thursday 5-10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 5-11 p.m.
Sunday 4-10 p.m.
Brunch served from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/12/14 at 12:19 PM • Permalink

Pizzeria Posto

It takes a certain amount of guts for a restaurant to offer a limited menu, even if it’s a pizzeria. Especially when it’s a pizzeria located in a region that’s nothing if not rich with New York pizza experts. But Pizzeria Posto in Rhinebeck ably brings its culinary confidence to the plate. This is pizza as good as it is in the city. But it’s different, too — more like what you might find on a lucky day in Italy. Owner Patrick Amedeo (who formerly owned Amedeo’s Pizzeria in Lagrangeville) opened his restaurant in the charming but easily missed courtyard off East Market Street. One not-so-secret factor in his success: the authentic Italian wood-fired oven that was shipped from Modena, Italy. The menu offers six 12-inch pizzas ($10-$16) in masterful combinations, such as the sensational Mama Mia, a combination of fennel sausage with wood-fired onions and smoked mozzarella; and the Morandi, with pistachios, red onions, rosemary and Grana Padano (an Italian cheese similar to Parmesan). The salads ($7.50 - $12) are inspired (the Spinaci contains tender spinach with bits of mild goat cheese, bacon, mushrooms and a lovely sherry vinegar dressing) and are served with complimentary fresh bread. There’s a generous wine list and a beer selection with both Italian and American options.

43 E. Market Street, Rhinebeck, NY
(845) 876-3500
Open Wednesday through Saturday 12 to 10, Sunday and Monday 12 to 9. Closed Tuesday.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/09/14 at 11:23 AM • Permalink

Terrapin Red Bistro

Rural Intelligence Food If you look around the Red Bistro at Terrapin Restaurant, you’ll notice that everyone seems to be having a good time. It’s next to impossible not to enjoy yourself in the expansive bar section of this restaurant that opened in 2003 in the beautifully restored First Baptist Church, which dates to 1825. Chef Josh Kroner‘s menu offers astonishing variety and value. You can build your own sandwiches—hamburgers, sliced steak, ahi tuna salad, veggie burger etc. ($6.95 - $10.95) with your choice of toppings and rolls—or you can select from a wide variety of salads, quesadillas and pastas. If you feel overwhelmed by the options, the tapas plates($3 - $4) are the way to go. On a recent visit, we thoroughly enjoyed Thai meaballs in green curry, duck quesadilla, macadamia-nut tempura calamari, and crispy artichokes, which we washed down with excellent margaritas. And our cheerful waitress thoughtfully had our single order of fish tacos divided onto two plates in the kitchen. Terrapin is one of those reliable restaurants where the ambitious chef never forgets that the ultimate mark of good cooking is making people happy. —Dan Shaw

6426 Montgomery Street; 845.876.3330
Sunday -Thursday: 11:30 a.m. - 12 a.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11:30 a.m. - 1 a.m.

 

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 02/20/10 at 05:45 PM • Permalink

The Local

Rural Intelligence FoodWho wouldn’t want a neighboorhood restaurant this good? Chef/owner Wes Dier buys his ingredients from as many local farms and purveyors as possible, but the primary reason he named his new restaurant The Local was because he wanted it to be a neighborhood hangout. Nevertheless, The Local is a restaurant worth going out of your way to visit because it marries sophisticated cooking in a laid-back, friendly setting. The eclectic menu offers choices ranging from Hudson Valley foie gras ($20) and Stone Church Farm duck ($26) to a Cuban-style crepe ($15) made with Meiller’s Farm pork belly and extraordinary sliders ($14) made with Sepascot Home Farm grass-fed beef. With an open kitchen just inside the front door, you can watch your dinner being prepared, and if there’s a wait (we advise making reservations) there’s a bartender who knows how to mix extraordinary cocktails such as a Pink Salty Dog. —Dan Shaw

38 West Market Street, Rhinebeck; 845.876.2214

Dinner: Tuesday - Saturday 5:30 - 10 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 10/25/10 at 05:51 AM • Permalink

The Shelter

Billing itself as “an underground wine bar,” The Shelter lies subterranean, its entrance tucked in the old Rhinebeck Hardware Company building between FACE Stockholm and Bumble & Hive. It’s run by Wesley and Bryn Dier, the husband-and-wife team behind The Local, another popular Rhinebeck spot that shares The Shelter’s neighborhood feel and its attention to first-rate cooking and hospitality. At this venture, they serve up tapas-style plates and excellent drinks to patrons enjoying the elegant, unpretentious vibe. Seat yourself on a couch or one of the larger high-top tables dotted around the room. Order one of their “Lucky 13” cocktails, like the Savage Detective made with Del Maguey ‘Vida’ Mezcal, lemon, absinthe and grapefruit bitters ($12). Although The Local has an entirely domestic wine menu, here the Diers have opted for Spanish wines to complement their menu. The specials menu on a recent evening included a Camembert cheese from the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, rich and buttery, served with truffle honey and perfectly ripened D’anjou pear slices ($8). Some nights might offer individual mini paellas [shown here] or roasted peppers. From the regular menu, a small plate of marinated shitake mushrooms in a 20-year aged sherry vinaigrette with shallot crispies ($6) packed a tart bite and served as a good pairing to The Shelter’s aged meats, clearly important enough on the menu to warrant a meat slicer in the middle of the workspace. There’s a house-made chorizo and a paprika-cured pork tenderloin (each $10). Other dishes elevate the familiar, like deviled eggs made more devilish with wasabi tobikko — flying fish roe — and sriracha ($6). The lovely house-churned saffron ice cream ($6) was creamy and sweet and the prickly pear sorbet ($6) was refreshing after the evening’s rich offerings. Befitting a neighborhood hangout, weekly promos include $3 drafts on Wednesdays before 8, “Sheltered Sangria” ($8 glass; $18 carafe) on Fridays, $1 Blue Point oysters on Saturdays, and live music during the weekends and some weeknights.

The Shelter
47 East Market St., Suite #2
Rhinebeck, NY
(845) 876-1500
Tuesday—Thursday: 5 p.m. - midnight
Friday & Saturday: 5 p.m. - 2 a.m.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/24/14 at 10:56 AM • Permalink

Salt Point, New York

La Puerta Azul

If you’re one of those people who disdain dining in strip malls, La Puerta Azul (less than a mile from the Taconic Parkway’s Route 44/Millbrook exit) will radically change your outlook. The colorful, professionally decorated interior with its locally-wrought iron chandeliers is so exuberant that you feel like you’re at a party even on a quiet weekday night. Of course, the generous, classic margarita ($8) made with fresh lime juice helps and so do the warm chips and piquante salsa that has the texture of tapenade. The dining room’s stylishness is matched by the kitchen’s: Ceviche ($10) is served in an oversized martini glass with a sauce of roasted tomatoes and citrus juices; a hearty appetizer of beef empanadas ($7) is presented on a square plate with squiggles of chipolte sauce as if it were nouvelle cuisine; the perfectly grilled organic chicken breast ($18) comes with a mellow mole sauce on the side and heavenly sweet corn rice that has been mounded to resemble a Mayan temple.  The symbolism is apt because La Puerta Azul’s food is divine.

2510 Route 44; 845-677-2985

Lunch and dinner: Monday - Thursday: 12- 9 p.m. Friday & Saturday: 10:30 a.m.- 11 p.m.
Sunday brunch: 11:30 a.m.-  3 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 02/22/08 at 05:49 AM • Permalink

Tivoli, New York

Luna 61

Rural Intelligence FoodA true vegetarian’s delight, Luna 61 serves up high-flavor, organic, international fare prepared by husband-and-wife team Debra and Peter Maisel in a casual, cheery-chartreuse setting. Start with creative roll-ups, such as the Galaxy – portabellas, faux bacon, and veggies wrapped in a tortilla and sliced into bite-size cones – or the Maki 61 sushi roll with shiitake mushrooms and avocado. Hearty salads such as Land and Sea (arame, daikon, carrots, red cabbage and scallions over mesclun) and Wild Mushroom, Potato and Kale Salad could be your meal, especially when paired with a selection from the globetrotting sandwich list, such as the Cuban Press, Curry Roti Wrap, falafel, burrito, or tempeh reuben. Peter’s Asian culinary predilections, and his mastery at balancing spicy, sweet, salty and sour flavors, shine through in main courses such as Bangkok Curry Tofu, Pad Thai, and Laksa Noodlepot; vegetarians can indulge without fear of hidden animal-derived ingredients like fish sauce or shrimp paste. Sweet potato enchiladas and the daily ravioli are perennially popular. Everything, from dipping sauces to kim chi, is house-made; meals are so toothsome that omnivores won’t miss the meat. Many dishes are vegan or can be easily adapted for dairy-free eaters, and Debra makes sure that compassionate sweet-tooths are sated with luscious, mile-high cakes and seasonal fruit pies. When the weather’s fine, dine outside on the patio, but beware on scorching summer days; shade is scarce. Opt instead for a sunny window nook. —Bess Hochstein

55 Broadway, 845.758.0061
Monday,Tuesday and Thursday: 5 - 9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 5 - 10 p.m.
Sunday 5 - 9 p.m.
Brunch: Sunday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Related post: Vegetarian Fare with Asian Flair

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Posted by Bess Hochstein on 04/14/12 at 06:10 AM • Permalink

Pan Zur

Rural Intelligence FoodIt’s exciting to find a chef who not only appreciates black pig but also knows how to make the most of it.  While the menu here reflects the Catalan origins of the family of chef/owner Rei Peraza, it is an original presentation of dishes not usually seen in restaurants, Spanish or otherwise.  Their execution is virtually flawless, and the personable staff is attentive and well educated about what is on offer. Start with a tapas: migas (1 yr old Ozark ham, mushrooms cheddar, poached egg, red eye gravy vinaigrette), or heritage pig belly (sherry-cherry molasses glaze), or a citrus-garlic braised pork with red cabbage slaw,  or jamon Serrano (dry cured 9 months, Spain).  Alternatively, there’s a creamy eggplant-garlic soup with roasted lemon and crème fraiche, or a “snack” of crisp pig ears with saffron yoghurt, or, from the charcuterie, lomo iberico, 100% acorn-fed Iberian pig loin that is about the tenderest, most melt-in-your-mouth morsel you can imagine. While chef Peraza does homage to locavore tastes when possible, he quite rightly turns to Spain for many of his ham and other pork products. For those not inclined toward pork or other exotica, the menu offers wild striped bass, New York Strip steak, and roasted Amish chicken. Even these are seasoned and garnished in highly original and tasty ways. —Peter Davies

69 Broadway, 845.757.1071
Tuesday - Thursday 5:30 - 9 (bar menu - 10)
Friday & Saturday 5:30 - 10 (bar menu - 12)
Closed Sunday and Monday

Related post: Tapas and Then Some in Tivoli

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 04/14/12 at 02:33 AM • Permalink

Litchfield County

Canaan, CT

Blackberry River Baking Co.

Audrey and Sam Leary left Brooklyn last summer to take over the bakery across from the Stop & Shop on Route 44 in Canaan, CT. Initially named the Black Forest Bakery, they renamed it Blackberry River Baking Company. Locals soon began buzzing about the Parisian-style macaroons, the dense teacakes, the croissants and the crusty loaves or rye and peasant breads. The buzz became a roar when they started revamping the menu, adding dishes like chunky corned beef hash ($7.50) and “green eggs with ham,” in which eggs are scrambled with house-made spinach pesto and specials like Italian Eggs Benedict with prosciutto and pesto Hollandaise, shown here ($9.50). All the dishes are served with yeasty toast and addictive home fries. Vegetarians can find happiness here, too: Audrey allows that she borrowed the idea for the “red flannel hash” ($7.50) — beets, potatoes and goat cheese served with eggs — from a cafe in Brooklyn.  “People have really responded to the new menu,” says Audrey, whose repertoire ranges from pumpkin pancakes and cinnamon apple French toast to quiche and croque madame served with a fresh side salad of baby arugula. 

Blackberry River Baking Company
18 East Main Street (Route 44), Canaan CT
(860) 824-8275
Hours:
Daily, 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/24/14 at 11:18 AM • Permalink

Falls Village, Connecticut

The Falls Village Inn

Rural Intelligence FoodReopened after being dark for four years (and after a disastrous incarnation as a German restaurant), the Falls Village Inn is the quintessential small-town New England tavern where former Wall Street honchos and volunteer firemen dine happily side by side. Owners Colin Chambers and Susan Sweetapple have made accessibility their motto so guests can choose between a conventional burger ($10) or the Whippoorwill Farm grass-fed burger ($15)  Designed in a cozy un-designed way by weekend neighbor Bunny Williams (one of the rock stars of the New York decorating world), the inn has a menu that features classic comfort food: Chicken Wings ($10), Shepherd’s Pie ($17), Chicken Pot Pie ($15).  On a recent Sunday, the lunch specials included chef Jose Lalvay’s fish tacos ($12) and more than one guest requested it be made a menu staple. For dessert, there is cake from Jason Young’s Sweet William’s Bakery, which started out around the corner in Falls Village before moving to Salisbury. And the bar is so convivial that you won’t mind hanging out there if you have to wait for a table. —Dan Shaw

33 Railroad Street; 860.824.0033
Dinner: Monday - Sunday 5 -9 p.m., Friday - Saturday til 10
Lunch:  Saturday 12-5 p.m.
Sunday brunch: 11-5 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 12/17/10 at 03:07 AM • Permalink

Toymakers Cafe

Rural Intelligence FoodIf you want a taste of small town life, try quirky Toymakers Cafe in Falls Village, the second smallest town in Connecticut with just 1,200 residents.  There are two communal tables, so you are likely to meet the locals while sipping a creamy latte and savoring the sweet potato waffle, the justifiably famous house specialty,  Leather-clad bikers have made this their Sunday brunch pit-stop so come early or late unless you want to join a conversation about Harleys.

85 Main Street;  860-824-8168
Breakfast & Lunch Thursday-Friday, 7 AM - 2 PM; Saturday-Sunday,  7 AM to 4 PM
Closed Monday - Wednesday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 01/30/08 at 09:10 AM • Permalink

Lakeville, Connecticut

Pastorale

Karen Hamilton and Frederic Feveau have created a traditional country French restaurant—the wife runs the front of the house and the husband’s in the kitchen—that appeals to the tastes of the northwestern corner’s bourgeoisie. Located in an antique Colonial that’s been painted warm Provencal colors, Pastorale has a devoted following who come for classics like poached pear-and-frisee salad with Stilton and caramelized walnuts ($9), mouules Mariniere ($18.50), and grilled leg of lamb with spinach and polenta ($24). The restaurant offers a three-course prix-fixe menu ($28) Tuesday - Thursday.

223 Main Street; 860-435-1011

Dinner Tuesday - Saturday 5:30 - 9; Sunday 5 -8
Brunch: Sunday noon - 5
Closed Monday.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 01/30/08 at 07:57 AM • Permalink

The Boathouse

Rural Intelligence FoodThe food at the Boathouse may not make you swoon, but the restaurant will warm your heart. With two fireplaces and a lively bar dominated by a knockout mural of a traditional lakeside boathouse, the restaurant naturally attracts students (who look like Abercrombie models) and their parents from the nearby Hotchkiss and Salisbury boarding schools. In the handsome main dining room where two vintage wooden canoes hang from ceiling, locals and out-of-towners tuck into hearty fare: burgers ($12), ribs ($16 or $20), horseradish encrusted salmon ($22), cioppino ($28). The Boathouse also has the preppiest sushi bar around, and on a recent evening, many of the student diners were eating big platters of raw fish. As an homage to the clientele, several rolls are named after local private schools such as the Berkshire (avocado, cream cheese, smelt roe & smoked salmon, $7.50), the Millbrook (unagi & avocado, $7.50), and the IMS (yellowtail & scallions, $7.50). —Dan Shaw

349 Main Street/Routes 44 & 41; 860.435.2111
Sunday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 01/18/11 at 01:23 PM • Permalink

Woodland

This quintessential neighborhood restaurant can be hard to find, which suits its loyal clientele just fine.  Theoretically, you could dine here contentedly six nights a week (it’s dark on Mondays) because the menu is extensive so there is always something you’re in the mood for: arugula-and-goat-cheese salad with crispy lardons, delicate sole almondine, and a steak sandwich served with a mound of spinach and crispy fries. And there’s sushi, too! It’s no wonder Woodland is always packed (even during snowstorms) because no place is as reliably welcoming or consistently delicious.
192 Sharon Road (Route 41); 860-435-0578
Lunch: Tuesday - Saturday 11:30 - 2:30
Dinner: Tuesday - Thursday 5 -9; Friday - Saturday 5 - 10; Sunday 4 - 8:30

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 01/31/08 at 02:12 AM • Permalink

Litchfield, Connecticut

West Street Grill

Rural Intelligence FoodSince 1990, the West Street Grill, the beloved eminence grise of the Litchfield green, has married the classical with the experimental, sophistication with simplicity, city with country.  Co-owners James O’Shea and Charles Kafferman apply the discipline of the French tradition to a truly American cuisine, while O’Shea’s Gaelic sense of hospitality extends to regulars, including a raft of celebrities, and newcomers alike. Chef Jimmy Cosgriff’s considerable powers of invention are very much in evidence in the perpetually changing menu.  Starters might include a “creamy” soup that contains not so much as a drop of cream or butter, accompanied by a decidedly non-vegan parmesan aioli grilled peasant bread that the West Street Grill has been serving since it opened.  A main course might consist of fresh wild striped bass with baby patty pan squash, local corn, roasted tomatoes, all in an aromatic fennel broth or delicious braised short ribs with a gratin of sweet potatoes in a filo crust.  For dessert, there is a choice of vegan sorbets, a citrusy lime tart, or a classic over-the-top Irish banoffee pie—toffee, banana and shaved bittersweet chocolate. 
It’s no exaggeration to say that if the West Street Grill hadn’t existed, the citizens of Litchfield County would have had to invent it.  A score of years after its founding, as other restaurants have come and gone, it has endured, evolved, prevailed. —Angeline Goreau

43 West Street, 860.567.3885
Lunch & dinner daily
Monday - Thursday: 11:30 a.m.- 3 p.m
Friday and Saturday:  11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m..
Closed Sunday

Related post:  West Street Grill: A Hardy Litchfield Perennial

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Posted by Marilyn Bethany on 04/16/12 at 04:58 AM • Permalink

Norfolk, Connecticut

Infinity Hall Bistro

Rural Intelligence Food  Now you can really make it a night on the town when you attend a concert at the exquisitely renovated Infinity Hall in Norfolk (just over the border from Southfield, MA). On May 1, Infinity Hall Bistro opened an ambitious one-size-fits-all restaurant where you can get everything from an edamame burger with harissa aioli ($8) or a buttery lobster roll ($16) to grilled salmon with pomegranate mustard ($22) and filet mignon with onion rings ($28).  You can’t go wrong with the perfectly cooked grass-fed burger from Whippoorwill Farm ($9) on a sturdy sweet roll with a choice of sides including crisp, drive-in style fries.  The drinks menu is meant for partying: There are cucumber, chocolate and espresso martinis ($9) and Infinity Cocktails ($8) such as “I’m Jazzed” (Absolut, Peachtree Schnapps, Midori and pineapple juice) and “Folk Fest” (Absolut Pears, fresh lime juice, Cointreau, sour mix and ginger ale.) The dining has been decorated with jazzy colors, comfortable chairs, and stunning framed black-and-white photographs of rock-and-roll’s pioneers from the 1960s and 1970s, which gives Infinity Hall a sense of being part of pop-music history.  And even on a Tuesday night when there was no concert upstairs, this joint was jumping.

20 Greenwoods Road (aka Route 44); 860.542.5531
Wednesday - Sunday 4 - 9 p.m.
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 05/20/09 at 07:35 AM • Permalink

Salisbury, Connecticut

Country Bistro

Rural Intelligence FoodTo say the Country Bistro is unpretentious is not a euphemism. Jaqueline Heriteau and her daughter Holly Hunter-Stonehill are expert cooks and published authors. But when they decided to open a breakfast-and-lunch spot behind the Salisbury Post Office they wanted it to be the sort of everyday place where locals could come all the time. And they have a loyal cadre of regulars because for $7.95 you can get a cup of homemade soup (Heriteau wrote A Feast of Soups which has 500 recipes so she’s never at a loss for soup specials) a generous half a sandwich (a thick BLT or classic Reuben) arranged stylishly on an oblong white platter with lightly dressed greens and potato chips. What’s more, in warm weather you have your choice of two outdoor patios with umbrella tables (and WiFi!) and waitresses who treat you like a regular even if you’re a newcomer.

10 Academy Street;  860.435.9420
Daily:  8 AM - 5:30 PM

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 05/13/09 at 02:56 PM • Permalink

Sharon, Connecticut

Caro Caffe

Rural Intelligence Food Caro Bonci, the culinary force behind the late, lamented Café Lally in West Corwall, has a simple philosophy: “… Food should taste good,” she says. “I use as much organic produce as I can, and as much locally sourced produce as I can, but the bottom line is, does it taste good?” At Caro Caffe, a tiny, Tuscan-style treasure, her fresh-made, locally sourced, authentic Italian country fare, including splendid artisanal pizzas, has quickly earned a fervent local following. The compact, open kitchen is equipped with a convection oven for bread, pastries, and focaccia; Bonci also turns out delectable dishes such as lentil salad with fiddleheads, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and feta; a choice of tomato feta, pear gorgonzola, or roasted tomato and gorgonzola focaccia; and mini apple pies that go perfectly with cappuccino. Pizzas include a traditional, meltingly perfect Margherita ($12), generously festooned with fresh basil, or any number of other creative vegetarian combinations, such as asparagus with chevre, roasted garlic, pine nuts, and mozzarella or sage and red onions with pumpkin seeds, parmesan, and mozzarella (up to $14). The whole-wheat crust (a gluten-free version is also available) is thin andcrispy enough to be eaten neatly in a car or on a picnic; it will nicely survive the journey home for a quick reheating. Prices range from $4 for a loaf of pane paesanella, to $6 and up for salads and focaccia, and up to $14 for the caffe’s artisanal pizzas. Tarts and other desserts, all homemade and delicious, average $3 to $6. You can also pick up a bottle of Bonci’s own salad dressings, ginger/garlic/soy or balsamic vinaigrette, for $6. Bonci opens early enough in the morning so you can grab a pastry and a cappuccino; at noon she begins making pizza to order. She stays open until 6 or 7 p.m., though pizza may not be available during her afternoon break, usually around 3 p.m. You can also phone in your orders ahead of time.


Caro Caffe
9 Calkinstown Road, off Route 41
Wednesday - Saturday morning (opening time varies)  until 7 p.m.; Sunday until 6 p.m.
860-364-0879  

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Posted by Scott Baldinger on 09/24/12 at 03:22 AM • Permalink

Washington, CT

Community Table

Rural Intelligence FoodCommunity Table doesn’t have a bar to wait to being seated. But you will be rewarded for staying put with chef Joel Viehland’s luscious locavore cuisine, which is based on ingredients from more than 30 local farms and purveyors. The menu is an intriguing mixture of tweaked-out comfort food— such as beef and barley borscht ($7), rabbit with celery root puree and caramelized carrots ($23), spaghetti with merguez sausage, tomatoes, eggplant, preserved lemon, cured olives and goat’s milk pecorino ($21)—and more audacious dishes like pickled vegetables in a warm, bone-marrow vinaigrette ($9) and a skate wing served with quinona, walnuts, sunflower seeds, roasted beets, cauliflower, mustard greens and apple vinegar citrus brown butter sauce ($24). Highly-principled, highly-styled but down-to-earth, Community Table is one of those restaurants that boldly prints its mission statement on the first page of the menu—“to prepare the highest quality locally grown and procured ingredients and to serve our community in a casual, vibrant atmosphere”—and then follows through magnificently but humbly. —Dan Shaw

223 Litchfield Turnpike, Washington, CT ; 860.868.9354
Friday and Saturday: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Thursday, Sunday and Monday: 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday brunch: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 11/01/10 at 06:44 AM • Permalink