My Favorite Dining Destinations
This will be a list of my favorites – not to suggest in any way that this is a list of what I consider to be “the best.” A classical definition of “the best” – a Michelin Three Star or NY Times Four Star restaurant would no doubt serve dishes that are way too complicated, or require expensive ingredients that are only available via next day air, with wait staffs that outnumber the number of diners, and wine lists that include verticals that start with a comma in the price of the youngest bottle. Haute cuisine or nouveau anything are not what this space is about. You won’t find any dishes accented with a crustacean foam and a mango dipping sauce, or that perfectly matched the Petrus 82. We’ll take the sweetbreads and the Beaujolais please. The list is a work in progress. I’ll add to it as often as possible. I’ll also add comments on destinations that are worthy of a positive mention. Picks, no pans.
I like simple meals, usually with “ethnic” origins, served by friendly, capable, knowledgeable wait-staff (in that order). Meals that are considered staples in any bistro. Recipes that rural families would hand down for generations, but did not need to be written down. Osso bucco with home made crusty bread to spread the marrow on, a confit of duck in a cassoulet that spent all afternoon – ideally yesterday afternoon – in the oven; a paella big enough to feed the whole room, from one pan, served with a crisp white Albarino, a prosciutto that has been hanging since last October wrapped around… well, wrapped around just about anything. Eddie Lauria’s mother’s boccola. (This is worthy of its own post.) These are my favorite dishes. My favorite dining destinations serve these types of dishes – simple bistro style dishes accompanied by a well chosen list of well made but affordable wines.
For many years I wrote a restaurant review column in the Hudson Valley and was asked to report on any and all restaurants in the area. I have the luxury of not doing that here. This is also going to be a list of favorites, not “picks and pans”. With this as a premise, I can never be wrong. You may disagree with me, but I’m still right. It’s one of my favorites, so there! If I don’t think it is worth a visit, you won’t hear anything about it here. We will also not limit ourselves to restaurants but any dining destination in upstate New York, from the Hudson Valley to the North Country of the Adirondacks that deserves mention could be included. We also get lost often and end up in Montreal or NY City, so we may share our experiences there too. It might not be a restaurant in the classic sense. It could be a county fair, or a winery, or my personal favorite – the BBQ pit at a local Fish and Game Club, often with your’s truly playing Pit Master. Comments and suggestions are more than welcome. Drop me a line anytime at NorthCountryJoe@gmail.com
My favorites, in no particular order:
Some for the fare, some for the atmosphere, some for value.
Aroma Osteria, Wappingers Falls, NY (845) 298 6790
The gold standard for Italian bistro fare. Few can compare.
Cafe Adirondack, Pottersville, NY (518) 494 5800
Among the best values in the North Country, especially the Thursday night prix fixe.
Le Pavillion, Poughkeepsie, NY 845 473 2525
Claude Guermont left the CIA’s Escoffier classroom to open this French classic twenty years ago. He hasn’t lost a step.
36 Main Street, New Paltz, NY (845) 255 3636
A home away from home. Great food and wine at great prices.
Bistro Tallulah, Glens Falls, NY (518) 793-2256
A Parisian bistro, flavored with New Orleans spice. Just fantastic.
Le Canard Enchaine, Kingston, NY (845) 339 2003
Jean Jacques Coquillat’s very French, very fun Hudson Valley original.
Il Cena Colo, Newburgh, NY (845) 564 4494
Introduced classic “northern” Italian food to the Hudson Valley. Thank You!
Il Barilotto, Fishkill, NY (845) 897 4300
A jazzier Aroma Osteria with a New York atmosphere.
Crave, Poughkeepsie, NY (845) 452 3501
Newest Hudson Valley newcomer from the crew at Lola’s Catering. Well worth a visit.
The Owl at Twilight, Olmsteadville, NY (518) 251 4696
Rich and Joanne are back and we are very glad they are. Will make you feel welcome.
Friends Lake Inn, Chestertown, NY (518) 494 4751
A North Country classic, with atmosphere, and a wine cellar, and a really nice room.
The Deer’s Head Inn, Elizabethtown, NY (518) 873 6514
Well prepared traditional fare, in a warm welcoming roadhouse atmosphere.
Caterina de Medici, Culinary Institute, Hyde Park, NY (845) 452 9600
Just remember this is a classroom and you will enjoy every minute.
Pubs, Tapas & Wine Bars
The Beechtree Grill, Poughkeepsie, NY (845) 471 7279
A cross between Cheers and Night Court, with great pub offerings
Bar Vino, North Creek, NY (845) 251 0199
Really good tapas menu and a well thought out, reasonably priced, wine list. Opens at 4PM. Gore closes at 4 PM. Get there at 4:01 or stand.
Flanagan’s Pub, Schroon Lake, NY (518) 532 9096
If you can’t have fun with Penny you should stay home. I’ll be the tall one with the glass of Pino Grigio.