Essie’s Restaurant, a new bistro style eatery in Mount Carmel in downtown Poughkeepsie, is the newest addition to the city’s growing list of upscale dining establishments. The space most recently was home to Cafe Bocca, and those of a certain age will remember Sardi’s grocery, which operated there for over seventy years. We started hearing about the new restaurant months before they opened, in part because of the reputation of the proprietor, Brandon Walker.
It’s hard to imagine now, but thirty years ago there were no restaurants serving authentic rustic home style Italian food anywhere in the Hudson Valley. Back then, Italian meant red sauce and pasta and more often than not what you were served were “Italian-American” dishes like garlic bread with veal or chicken parmigiana or lobster fra Diavolo, or shrimp scampi (none of which would be found in Italy). Oh, how times have changed….
If I were in real estate I would say that Global Palate is centrally located between Kingston and Highland. Located in the old roadhouse that housed Marcel’s in days of yore, the restaurant’s dining room, and the bar in particular, have always been on my list of favorites. If you had a dream about a 1960’s neighborhood bistro, this is probably what you would dream about.
Eddie Lauria’s latest enterprise, Grano Focacceria, offers an opportunity to sample classic Italian home style baking in an informal, casual, and very inexpensive venue. Nothing fancy. Nothing complicated. Just fantastic homestyle baking the way your mother did it….if your mother was the best cook in the neighborhood….in Naples.
The Culinary Institute’s newest venue is the Bocuse Restaurant, an homage to the legendary Lyonnaise chef, Paul Bocuse. In the late 1960’s Chef Bocuse and a few of his colleagues popularized what came to be known as “Nouvelle Cuisine”, a reimagining of traditional classic French haute cuisine with a new emphasis on purity of presentation and a rejection of the laborious and elaborate recipes and sauces of “cuisine classique”. Appropriately, the restaurant is located in the space that once housed L’Escoffier Restaurant, the CIA’s temple of haute cuisine.
New Paltz newcomers Huckleberry and End Cut have more company this month. Three new restaurants opened – Schatzi’s on Main Street. Garvan’s Gastropub at the golf course, and The Parish at the Waterstreet Market. We stopped in to check them out.
Poughkeepsie diners applauded five years ago when Brasserie 292 first opened on Main Street. It was the area’s only legitimate brasserie, and a good one at that. A succession of changes in partners and management over the last three years was noticeable in the dining room, and I for one breathed a sigh of relief last summer when the last standing owner, Alex Serroukas, sold the restaurant to Charlie Fells and his wife, Megan Kulpa Fells, the culinary couple who own the Artist’s Palate across the street.
You will find Huckleberry tucked away in a corner off of Church Street, across from Hokkaido. The pub is exactly that, and nothing more, and I say that in a most complimentary way. The place has the look and feel of a European village pub, but one that caters to the locals and not the tourists, where families out for a bite are as common, and as welcome, as the locals stopping in for a pint and some conversation on the way home from work.
We were sitting at the bar, perusing the menu, sipping a glass of wine. A gentleman diner sat two stools down the bar from where we were seated. “You have to try this!” he said. I looked at his plate, the contents of which were not immediately apparent. Perhaps a roasted plantain, I thought. The waitress told us it was a parsnip. A parsnip?
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.