50 John Street
Kingston, NY 12401
Breakfast from 10 AM, Lunch until 3:30PM, Dinner from 5:30 PM
Reservations: 845 383 1198
I’m never quite sure what to expect when the phrase “new American cuisine” is used as a description. Sometimes you find a mish-mash of ethnic components reimagined as something new and interesting; sometimes you find meatloaf. You frequently find a $20 artisanal hamburger made from a recently massaged cow that had been personally ground by celebrity butcher Pat LaFrieda, or at least someone who had met Pat LaFrieda.
Here at Duo Bistro, a contemporary kitchen that has been playing to rave reviews since they opened four years ago, you find the real McCoy – as in smoked, wrapped in bacon, bourbon glazed American cuisine. I am embarrassed to say that I had not been to the place until last month, as the restaurant is shuttered on Wednesdays, our usual night out. We took advantage of a Tuesday night in Kingston to stop by, and we were glad we did.
Duo is in Kingston’s uptown Stockade District, just a pitching wedge away from two of our long time favorites – Boitson’s Bistro and le Canard Enchaine. Duo Bistro joined these two standouts in the spring of 2012. One of the original owners, Juan Romero, still holds court in the kitchen but has teamed with a new partner, Shawna Chahanovich. Chef Romero’s menu is delightfully original, combining local farm products with creative and well prepared recipes. During the summer, RSK Farm in Prattsville is a veggie supplier. The menu lists Fitzgerald’s Farm in Accord as the poultry source and Hudson Valley Beef as the supplier of the said aforementioned makings for Duo’s ($18) artisanal burgers, offered here with house cured duck bacon, aged gruyere, and herbed Parmesan and frites.
What’s more American than sweet potato fritters? The grated potatoes are fried to a crispy exterior, and topped with smoked tomatoes and fresh ricotta cheese, and plated with a spoonful of preserved citrus aioli. Fantastic dish. An appetizer of “fried pumpkin” caught my eye. The squash was drizzled with a sauce blended with Berbere Spice – an Ethiopian aromatic that was right at home with our Thanksgiving staple. Try it.
Other starters include a few salads including a spring salad of pea leaves, walnuts and sunflower sprouts ($10) and a classic Caesar ($11). The kitchen also fashions its own charcuterie plate (15) of cheeses and house-cured salumi and sausage.
Moving on to entrees, we selected the spring chicken papardelle along with a bourbon bacon wrapped chicken breast. Both dishes featured a Fitzgerald’s Farm chicken breast, an “airline” or “Statler” cut, leaving the first joint of the wing attached. The bourbon wrapped bacon added flavor and insulation for the bird’s juices, I think. It was one of the best chicken dishes that I’ve had in a while. The pappardelle was more chicken than pasta. We were expecting a toss of pasta noodles and chicken slices. Here the kitchen plates an entire breast of chicken – again the full Statler cut – on top of the plate of papardelle. Overwhelming yes, delicious yes.
The wine list at Duo mimics the menu – concise, but well focused and thoughtfully selected. It’s a very nice “bistro” list. You can splurge on a $50 bottle of Chablis or Sancerre if you want to. Familiar bistro reds like tempranillo and Cote du Rhones offer food friendly choices at reasonable prices. I chose a very nice $10 glass of Chardonnay from Jekel in Monterey, California to go with my chicken.
The restaurant has recently expanded from its original space adding additional seating and a “Hudson Valley” marketplace next door. I certainly see why the restaurant had to add additional seating. We’ll be back very soon to see what the summer menu looks like.