Take two of the North Country’s best chefs and put them in the same kitchen for one special event. On a warm December Friday evening, John Vargo of Saranac Lake’s Eat ‘n Meet Grill & Larder joined Liquids & Solids’ Tim Loomis in his kitchen. The results were predictably spectacular.
Lots of good news on the Hudson Valley restaurant scene, with three new openings in Poughkeepsie and Marlboro.
It had been a few years since our Wednesday Night Dining Crew last visited 88 Charles Street, which was much too long a time. The restaurant is one of our favorites, and the drive to Montgomery is really the only reason that we have not turned it into our personal clubhouse. The place has all of the requisite ingredients for making it a favorite – a great bar, a friendly professional waitstaff, and a solid kitchen.
Every regional cuisine has unique characteristics, usually predicated on the local food crops, regional herbs and spices, and local cultural or religious preferences – or taboos. Nowhere is this more in focus than in the cuisine of Thailand. Like many eastern cuisines, the cook will balance sweet with sour, salty with spicy. Appearance and texture is given more attention than in western cookery, with picture perfect presentations typically plated on serving vessels suitable for gallery viewing all by themselves.
Ole Savannah is a nice addition to the Rondout dining landscape, courtesy of the same folks that brought you Mariner’s Harbor and Frank Guido’s Little Italy in uptown Kingston near UPAC. This restaurant is arguably the best of the group, and certainly the one with the nicest views. Our Wednesday night dining crew stopped in a few times for dinner…..
A few weeks ago we were enjoying a conversation at dinner with a couple from the Culinary Institute. They eat out as frequently as we do, and I was most interested in how they were going to respond to the question on the table: who’s doing it right? Who was focusing on local produce? Who was working best with local farmers? And of course, who was doing the best job with all of this stuff in the kitchen. I also asked what their favorite restaurants were. Crew Restaurant, on Route 9 in Poughkeepsie, was their immediate response.
Mercato is a tiny local place, with a cozy wine bar that seats a grand total of eight patrons, and a main dining room that seats a few dozen more. An adjacent dining room is called The Pasta Shop. When they first opened it was ……a pasta shop!….., but more seats were much in need and the retail shop space was sacrificed to make room for more diners. There is a reason that more space was needed. The food here is fantastic.
John Lekic’s Le Express Bistro in Wappingers is the most recent addition to our “Hudson Valley Top 10 Favorite Restaurants.” For some, “farm to table” is a marketing slogan. For John Lekic, it is his life’s mission – to promote the culinary bounty of the Hudson Valley. He is the valley’s farmers’ greatest cheerleader, and his megaphone is his restaurant.
Liquids and Solids has enjoyed a uniform positive buzz since opening in 2010, offering a menu almost exclusively comprised of house-made charcuterie, with sporadic appearances of prepared veggies and local cheeses. The space is as casual as casual gets, with a dozen highly sought after seats at the bar, and a like number of high top tables scattered around a small dining room.
The restaurant will be our new favorite casual “small plate” stop when we are in Lake Placid.
You will find the Mountain Brauhaus nestled near the base of the Shawangunk ridge, on the road that climbs through a series of switchbacks before reaching Minnewaska. German immigrants settled the area long ago, drawn here for the same reasons as the thousands of climbers and tourists who visit the area each year. The landscape is as close to Bavaria as you will find without getting on a plane to Germany. The region’s most popular restaurant fits right into that setting, serving as a meeting house for area residents and a beacon for the rest of us drawn to the light of the kitchen’s traditional Brauhaus fare.