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Soup & Sandwich Salvation! Amenia’s Back in the Kitchen

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Peggy McEnroe behind the counter at Back in the Kitchen in Amenia, NY

Besides a post office and a library, every small town needs a breakfast and lunch spot where you can rub shoulders with the neighbors or pick up a homemade cup of soup or a hearty sandwich to eat on the run. For a long time, the Cozy Corner was the daytime hangout in Amenia, but it closed a couple of years ago and nothing took its place. Now, Peggy McEnroe, who used to run the Millerton Deli and Irving Farm Coffeehouse, has opened Back in the Kitchen on Main Street.

It’s a homecoming for McEnroe who grew up on a farm in Amenia and her landlord, Claire Houlihan, who spent childhood summers visiting her grandparents in the hamlet that’s a couple of miles from the Wassaic train station. Rural Intelligence Food When Houlihan built a house in Amenia a few years ago, she fell in love with a century-old brick building on Main Street and told her real estate broker to let her know if it ever came on the market. When it did, she bought it with the notion of renovating it and leasing it to a knitting store with a cafe. When she asked her real estate lawyer, Michelle Haab, who might run the cafe, Haab immediately suggested McEnroe who had made such a success of Irving Farm. (McEnroe’s cousins own McEnroe’s Organic Farm just up Route 22.) The two woman soon discovered that their grandfathers had lived on adjacent properties and were best friends. “After ten minutes, I knew that Peggy and I would be great friends, too,” says Houlihan. “And I gave up on the knitting shop.”

Rural Intelligence FoodIt took more than a year to renovate the building (the pipes had burst), which gave McEnroe time to develop a menu that would appeal to both locals and weekenders. “I made a thorough search for the best coffee and when I discovered Intelligentsia I was blown away,” she says. Her baked goods—especially scones, cupcakes and coconut cake—tend to sell out every day. She made sure that her sandwiches—grilled cheese ($4.50), flank steak with carmelized onions ($6.25),  hummus with Moroccan carrots and roasted peppers ($5.95)—made on Bread Alone bread would be an affordable alternative to the Subway up the road. And she knows not to serve tasteless out-of-season tomatoes, so her BLT ($5.95) is made with roasted tomatoes as well as Apple wood smoked bacon and homemade mayo.
Both McEnroe and Houlihan are proud to be helping revive Amenia. “Everyday, people come in and say to me, ‘We want you to make it’,” says McEnroe.  Serge Madikians, who owns the highly-regarded
Rural Intelligence FoodSerevan restaurant up the road, is a fan: “The food is cared for and prepared with love and fresh, good ingredients,” says Madikians. “You cannot go wrong with breakfast sandwiches, fresh muffins or her delicious lunch offerings.”  Houlihan rented the second floor of her building to a new take-out food shop, Andrea’s Pasta di Casa. “I’m a big believer in small-town America,” says Houlihan, who also owns the building that houses Amenia’s post office. “I hope other people will take a chance as I have and invest in the commercial life of our communities.”

Back in the Kitchen
3312 Main Street, Amenia, NY; 845.789.1444

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday - Saturday 7 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Closed Wednesday

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 03/16/11 at 06:51 AM • Permalink