Photo: Liz Clayman
By Andrea Pyros
Over the past months, Rhinebeck locals watched with curiosity as construction crews worked to ready a new restaurant for its rumored spring opening. Hints on what diners could expect from The Amsterdam
were doled out slowly, and discussed extensively on local Facebook groups. How would husband and wife owners Howard and Chris Jacobs use the setting of a 1798 Dutch townhouse? How would they and their team define “farm to table,” a term that’s a way of life to the RI
region and its inhabitants? Some worried that the youthful and stylish servers who appear tableside in flannel shirts and black Converse or vest-wearing bartenders pouring hip cocktails might make us feel unwelcome. In short, would The Amsterdam live up to its hype as Dutchess County’s hottest new place to eat?
When the restaurant finally opened to the public, any fears that The Amsterdam wouldn’t do justice to the community and to the history of the region were quickly put to rest. The establishment fits seamlessly — and lovingly — into the Hudson Valley food scene, honoring the foods, ingredients, and the traditions of our area, while offering something unique to diners who care about good, quality food prepared and served with care.
Photo: Jennifer May
The first thing you notice upon entering The Amsterdam is how big — and how gorgeous — the space feels. There’s a large wraparound bar up front, and a high-ceilinged, bustling main dining room where patrons can peer into the open kitchen. That’s where Chef Sara Lukasiewicz
, a Culinary Institute of America grad and James Beard Award Rising Star Chef Nominee and her team capably work. There’s also a lovely and surprisingly peaceful backyard with a fire pit and casual tables for dining, and an upstairs lounge and a private dining room for parties from 12 to 40.
Drink up, Rhinebeckians and others. You’ll be able to find something to please you on the extensive cellar list, or within the shorter but very good array of beers, ciders, and wines by the glass. General Manager Jeff Turok, a former Union Square Hospitality Group staffer, obviously had fun coming up with the cocktail menu. Try the kick of Andy’s Askin’ for Ya ($13) with gin, vermouth, grapefruit and caraway, or the lighter, refreshing Dutchess ($13), with vodka, cassis, thyme, lemon, and soda.
Then settle in, because though the space is a showstopper and the drinks make you feel warm and suddenly more cheerful about the world, it’s Lukasiewicz’s cooking that makes an evening at The Amsterdam so delightful. There’s certainly plenty of fresh, local greens, including a lovely roasted beet salad ($13), to start, and cheeses from New York, Vermont and Massachusetts, but whatever else you do, do not miss (I mean it!) the house smoked salmon ($15), served on hash browns with chives, crème fraîche and crispy capers. It’s truly incredible, and big enough to share, as was a spring pâté of pork and onions, tarragon, mushrooms ($7) from the charcuterie menu, served with fresh bread, small dollops of mustards, and sides of pickled onions and cucumbers.
Photo: Jennifer May
There’s a tasty burger ($19) for an entree if you’re in the mood for something hearty and simple (we saw a few kids happily digging into theirs), a fish and chips ($23) option made with porgy that came out hot and perfectly crispy, and an indulgent yet delicate plate of farmers cheese gnocchi with roasted mushrooms ($26). Portions are generous, and even on a busy Saturday night, courses arrived quickly, so don’t worry if you just have to have a second order of something particularly delicious. The friendly and competent staff (overseen by Turok and Guest Experience Manager Ryan Stutzbach) clearly want you to enjoy yourself, and it shows from start to finish. The diners around us were smiling, too.
Desserts, other than the gelato and sorbet selections from Artigiani Del Gelato, are made in house. The chocolate hazelnut pot de creme ($8) was light and flavorful, and the after-dinner drinks are a fun way to drink your dessert. The only miss in our entire meal was the honey cake ($8), which featured a too-heavy cake and a rather bland brown sugar buttercream filling. Otherwise, everything, from start to finish, was fantastic.
Jeff Turok, Howard Jacobs and Sara Lukasiewicz. Photo: Liz Clayman
It’s clear that a great deal of work and passion went into getting The Amsterdam off the ground, from the space to the food to the staff, but even early in its opening, everything worked, and no one seemed flustered, or rushed us out the door when we were done eating. In fact, our server casually told us to stay as long we’d like after our meal ended, so we lingered for a little bit over an after-dinner drink called The Amsterdam ($10), and took part in a little people watching — another popular tradition of our region.
We’re “snout to tail,” our knowledgeable waitperson explained as she answered questions about the menu, and shared that Chef Lukasiewicz seems to have farmers appear magically at The Amsterdam’s door each morning with various homegrown treasures. Before she walked away, our server added, a little bit of awe in her voice, that Lukasiewicz is “fierce.”
That she is.
6380 Mill Street, Rhinebeck, NY
Sunday to Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m.
Friday & Saturday, 5:30-10:30 p.m.
Weekend Brunch coming soon.