6 Autumn Lane,
Route 44, just west of Route 22
Amenia, NY 12501
Dinner Thursday through Monday
Reservations: 845 373 9800
Serevan has long been on our personal list of Hudson Valley favorites. Open for seven years, Chef Proprietor Serge Madikians’ kitchen focuses on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean fare, with an emphasis on the cuisine of his native Armenia. Armenia’s regional dishes are influenced by centuries of occupations by the neighboring Turks and Persians and Russians. It sits at the crossroads between Eastern Europe and Asia and the Silk Road travelers brought even more culinary ideas along with them. That cuisine, and the menu at Serevan, accord vegetables and spices the same reverence as the regional meats, which focus on lamb dishes along with meals of chicken or beef. Cured olives and figs and dates are married with lemon citrus sauces scented with cumin and rosemary and mint and hints of garlic. It is a simple style of home cooking that Serge’s kitchen takes to high art. Chef Madikians’ talents were recognized recently by the James Beard Foundation, when he was named a finalist in the foundation’s North East Regional competition. His menu is especially enjoyable during the growing season when local farm produce starts appearing. We stopped in last night for dinner.
At 8 PM on a Friday the dining rooms are full with local regulars. Serge seems to know each and every guest, all of whom are greeted with hugs and smiles and whispers of what awaits them in the kitchen. It is a delightful scene that only plays well in small towns or neighborhood destinations where everyone knows your name. So it is at Serevan.
We started with a bottle of Luciene Crochet Sancerre ($42), which I ordered to complement the seafood that was being discussed by my tablemates. There was a black bass under consideration. More than one departing diner was heard raving about it as they were leaving the restaurant. Brook trout was another evening special. I knew I was going to have a warm calamari salad ($12) for an appetizer. There’s something about the grapefruit undertones of a Sancerre’s Sauvignon Blanc grape that goes really well with fish.
Another appetizer turned out to be the hit of the evening – a minty cream of fresh pea soup, served chilled. The peas were so sweet it could have been a dessert; it tasted like – and had the texture of – melting pea ice cream. Absolutely fantastic.
My calamari salad was tossed with a citrus spritzed roasted cauliflower and dill. The squid was tender and sweet and the dish was a wonderful combination of lemon scented flavors and textures. It was also big enough to pass as an entree. A delicious roasted beet and watercress salad, plated with citrus infused garbanzos rounded out our foursome’s apps.
Our entrees included the requisite rack of lamb ($34) broiled to a perfect pink center, scented with rosemary and garlic, and plated with basmatti rice. The ladies each ordered the brook trout ($25), which were a fair bit larger than anything I have caught lately, and served with chick peas, hummus and preserved lemon. The menu has an extensive selection of seafood including wild Alaska salmon and wild caught striped bass. I appreciate restaurants that do not serve farm raised Atlantic salmon and Serge gets a gold star for the effort. I was tempted by the branzino ($25), a Mediterranean sea bass, served with a puree of poached Anjou pears.
I settled on the Chicken Bastillia ($23). Bastilla is a classic Mediterranean dish that the kitchen here puts its own stamp on. It is Moroccan in origin where it is the national dish and traditionally made with pigeon. (I was fine with the chicken substitute.) The bird is first fried, and then braised and blended into a “meat pie” filling with lots of onions and ginger and cinnamon and saffron and coriander and parsley and then stuffed into a phyllo like pastry called warka. Every nationality has there only national pot pie dish and this is one of my favorites – especially the way Serge makes it.
We finished our meal with our usual espresso and Sambucca and were happy campers all.
Total cost? I have no idea; our dining companions Robert and Sarah picked up the check. Whatever it was, it was worth every penny.