By Jamie Larson
When the two most visible and well-situated business locations in the center of Red Hook, New York went vacant at the same time last year, we, along with everyone else, waited with bated breath to see what would open in the prominent, window-lined buildings, catty-corner from one another at the crossroads of Route 9 and and 199. The village and region has lucked out with the new arrivals, Yum Yum Noodle Bar
and Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop
The former is the third brick-and-mortar location of the hip and extremely popular Asian fusion restaurant company first opened in Woodstock, then Kingston. The latter is a quaint bakery filled with the aroma and flavor of top-notch artisan bread and mouthwatering pastries.
Annabelle’s Village Bake Shop
7501 N. Broadway, Red Hook, NY
Open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays
7 a.m.-3 p.m. weekends
When you first walk into Annabelle’s, the grand picture windows, high ceilings and elegant decor are almost enough to distract you from the siren smell of bread and pastries. Almost. The star of Annabelle’s is the long glass display case packed with bakery staples and an ever-changing array of goodies created by owner and baker Anne O’Doherty.
What makes Annabelle’s so well suited to the center of the village is O’Doherty’s approach to business: she listens to what the community wants. She changes the lineup of what she’s making nearly every day based on what people are clamoring for the most. Right now she says she’s selling a lot of raspberry bars ($2.95), quiche ($4.50 by the slice, $25 for a large, $15 for a medium), cinnamon buns ($3.95), croissants stuffed with spinach and cheese ($4.95) or ham and cheese ($5.95), and big cookies of all types ($1.50)
There are also all manner of pies, cakes, pastries and cupcakes rotating through the cases on any given day and O’Doherty will be happy to make whatever you like to order. She’ll even use your recipe. Haven’t had your grandma’s signature dessert in a decade? Dust off the notecard from the ancient recipe box and she’ll whip it up.
Her loaves are fabulous, as well. If you’re the type of well-meaning bread snob that judges a bakery by its baguette, then Annabelle’s is going to rocket to the top of your favorite bakery list. There’s a subtle depth of flavor, and a perfect texture to the crust and interior. The first time we tried it, it was a genuine and welcome surprise.
Annabelle’s opens at 7 a.m. so it’s a perfect spot for breakfast on the go, although you’re going to want to get comfortable at a window seat even if you’re just running in and out for a coffee and a scone.
Yum Yum Noodle Bar
7496 S. Broadway, Red Hook, NY
Open every day 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
We’ve sampled Yum Yum’s dishes many times over the years from its food truck, which pops up at events across the region, but now that Yum Yum is in Red Hook, the full menu and hip atmosphere that’s made it so successful at the Woodstock and Kingston locations is all ours.
The space is warm and inviting, with Yum Yum’s trademark raw wood bench seating and purple and green floral design. The window-lined walls draw you into the space, and once you're in make for excellent viewing of the bustling town as you warm yourself with a bowl of noodles, dumplings and inspired signature cocktails. Even though this is the third Yum Yum (fourth if you count the truck), for owners Nicole Cawley and Erica Mahlkuch, there isn’t the slightest whiff of stale franchise. The space feels vibrant and part of the community already.
One of the best things about Yum Yum’s menu is how easy it is to personalize. If you’re getting a noodle bowl, you get to pick from a list of broths, types of noodle, and protein, so you can order what you're comfortable with or try something new. It’s both an excellent place to take folks who don’t have a lot of experience with Asian food, as well as for those who are looking for more authentic regional dishes. Yum Yum also makes things easy for vegetarians and the gluten-free set.
For $13.50 you get a huge noodle bowl with your choice of noodles including ramen, rice, soba, udon or tonkotsu. Your broth choices are vegetarian, coconut curry, pork, chicken, dashi and miso, and you then add beef, braised pork, chicken, house-made seitan or tofu. Pork belly, shrimp or salmon are a few dollars extra. Every bowl comes with veggies, mushrooms, nori and a soft-boiled egg. Each customizable item is well balanced and dynamically flavorful. It’s the perfect meal for the current cold snap.
But there’s a lot more than “just” the noodle bowls at Yum Yum. There is a red curry fish stew ($17), vegetable pad thai ($10, proteins extra), miso-sake cured salmon ($16) and more. Yum Yum also has inventive daily specials. Whatever you get is perfect for lunch, dinner or takeout. It would also be a shame to overlook the small plates; they include steamed or fried dumplings ($8), steamed buns ($9.50) and satay, ($8) to name a few.
Once you start going to Yum Yum Noodle, it’s hard not to get addicted. It’s easy to find something you love and get it over and over again, but it’s also a place that rewards you for getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new.