Nic L Inn Wine Cellar on the Hudson
135 N. Water Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Lunch & Dinner ~ Wednesday through Sunday
The Deluccia name will be familiar to many Hudson Valley diners. The family that brought you the Nic L Inn on Rte 55 in Lagrange, and the Lynick House on Rte 376 is back, with a bistro – wine bar in Poughkeepsie’s Waterfront district. They opened this week, and our Wednesday night dining crew stopped in last night for dinner to check it out.
Daughter # 1, Nicolette, who some of us met when Lynn was carrying her around as a toddler at the Nic L Inn in Lagrange, will greet you at the door. (Nicolette is now carrying around one of her own, and Lynn still bounces from table to table checking on your progress.) My new favorite bartender Joey introduced me to the wine selection as I waited for my table-mates to find their way up Water Street. (Make a right at River Station and just keep driving.) The restaurant’s focus on wines is immediately apparent, with bins of bottles lining the bar room wall, along with a temperature controlled rack of dispenser taps which feature wines by the glass. A full liquor selection and a number of tap beers were also available.
The self serve wine dispenser system required an explanation from the proprietor. Patrons can purchase chits from the bar which gives them credit towards purchase of the featured wines. You can pour yourself glasses, half glasses, or tastes of each wine, after inserting your purchased token in the dispenser. I predict that this dispenser system will either be (1) the talk of the town, or (2) on Craig’s List next month. Let me know what you think of it.
Being of a certain age, I do things the old fashioned way, and asked Joey to open a bottle from the $25 bin – a Spanish Rey Santo Rueda. The restaurant also features a number of Millbrook Winery’s selections, which goes nicely with the locavore theme that we discovered in the kitchen.
That kitchen is in the very capable hands of CIA alum Brandon Walker, whose CV includes a number of familiar NYC eateries, but more importantly a stint in Tivoli with Rae Peraza at Panzur. I am going to guess that the squid ink pasta I enjoyed at dinner was influenced by his experience with Chef Peraza. The menu last night was uncomplicated and focused ~ six apps ($12 – $15), six pastas ($16 – $23), three black board specials, a charcuterie platter ($15), local cheese plate ($13), and three crostini offerings ($8). We tried most of them and they all got rave reviews. The pasta selections included a papardelle with a lamb ragu, fresh mint and (sheep’s milk) pecorino, a classic orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage, a whole wheat fettuccine Bolognese, and a cavatelli with cannellini beans, kale and pancetta.
I liked the restaurant’s effort to showcase local products. In addition to the local cheesemakers, one of the evening’s specials was a Black Angus flatiron steak from Hudson Valley Cattle Company. The restaurant’s chickens are sourced from John Fazio Farms in Modena. The cheese platter was wonderful, served with a dollop of local honey and fig compote. It included Sprout Creek’s Madeline, (which is reason enough to order the plate), along with Adirondack Cheddar, and Twin Maple Farm’s Hudson Red. I really enjoyed having the honey in the mix. Nice touch.
A cardinal rule of restaurant reviewing is to give a new place a few months to “work out the kinks”. Obviously showing up on the first night is against the rules, so this is not a review. Consider it just a new opening notice. You can still tell when someone knows how to do things, even on the first night. When you walk in at 5 PM and there is a “staff meeting” in progress with staff tastings of all of the evening specials – you know the owner is doing it right. When it seems like every server in the dining room checks in on your table, when they all have a smile while they are doing it, you know they picked some good people (with serving skills and people skills), and you know that they are sharing table responsibilities (and tips), and I like that. What’s not to like?
We left the restaurant at 7:30 PM and there was not a seat in the house. There was not a seat at the bar. There had been no public announcement of opening. The owner’s reputation precedes them. That reputation is well deserved.
The restaurant is currently open for dinner and will be adding lunch service soon. Call to check before you go.
If you do stop in please let our other readers know about your visit in the comments section.