Along with its growing fame as a food producer, the Hudson Valley has become a magnet for restaurateurs eager to put their personal stamp on the farm-to-table movement. Not that long ago, the local diner or bar was often the best option in most towns for eating out. Today there’s a healthy array of eateries covering virtually every cuisine and putting their own creative, locally sourced spin on it—whether it’s Garden House’s eggplant carpaccio or Frogmore Tavern’s pastrami tacos. There’s greater emphasis on setting, too. As the competition has heated up, so has the focus on polished décor and outdoor seating, with enchanting patios increasingly common. From Southern comfort to rustic charm, here are some of the most interesting newcomers to the Hudson Valley dining scene.
Comfort food has found a new mecca in the Columbia County hamlet of Germantown: Gaskins. Veterans of Brooklyn standouts Diner and Marlow & Sons, Nick and Sarah Suarez have brought urban chic to country dining. The restaurant space is airy, sleek, and rustic all at once—the marble-topped bar is offset by roughhewn wooden tables. Gaskin’s connection to local farmers is strong—the Suarezes source from 20 farms, including Hearty Roots, Common Hands, and Montgomery Place Orchards—and it shines through in their simple fare. Heirloom tomatoes are tossed with peaches, basil, and chorizo. Fried chicken is served with slaw and honey-butter hot sauce. Mussels and clams are roasted in the wood-fired oven and served with potatoes. Shishito and pardon peppers are coated with sea salt and lemon. Gaskins has a well-developed cocktail program and a list featuring small-batch natural wines. There’s a small deck on the street for al fresco dining.
2 Church Avenue, Germantown / (845) 537-2107
2. ROUGH CUT BREWING CO.
Brothers Jesse and Bart Cummings closed Oscar restaurant in the tough economy of 2011, but in June they reopened in the same location with a can’t-miss concept: a brewpub that serves delicious, inventive food, along with plenty of inexpensive bar options. The duo teamed up with homebrewer/carpenter Kayne Konecny, who gave the space an artful rustic-industrial makeover and concocts ambrosial beverages (for example, Pomme d’Orange Belgian Tripel with orange blossom honey and homemade candy sugar). Chef Bart Cummings douses steak in rich sauces like green peppercorn and brandy cream, and tops his tasty lamb burger with figs, red onion, and feta.
5945 Route 44/55, Kerhonkson / (845) 626-9838
3. SCHATZI’S PUB AND BIER GARDEN
Looking for a little slice of Bavaria? Schatzi’s is the closest you’ll come in the Hudson Valley. This pub serves up five types of German sausage, from an Andouille with spicy cheddar to a slow-smoked pork-and-beef brat. Or try the schnitzel—instead of the traditional red cabbage, it comes with a sweet-braised purple-cabbage aioli, a creative twist that characterizes many of Schatzi’s dishes. With 15 tap lines—11 dedicated to craft beer and four to German beer—there’s plenty of good cheer flowing here. Take a jaunt on the Walkway Over the Hudson, then plop yourself under an umbrella on Schatzi’s bluestone patio with a Hefeweizen and a warm Bavarian pretzel with creamy homemade beer cheese.
202 Main Street, Poughkeepsie / (845) 454-1179
Opened about a year ago in a space once occupied by an Art Deco soda fountain, Maybelle’s retains many period touches, including chevron-style mirrors and light fixtures. The food here is equally artful and emphasizes farm-fresh ingredients (as does co-owner Jamie Parry’s Milan outpost, Another Fork in the Road). Among the playful savory-sweet combinations are carrot salad roasted in coffee with Thai basil pesto, and pan-seared scallops with English peas, pea tendrils, blackberries, and shiso. The homemade mozzarella with warm bread and olive oil is simple but inspired. For now, Maybelle’s is BYOB with a liquor license pending, but it plans to serve a smoky black lager and other interesting artisanal beers.
355 Main Street, Catskill / (518) 719-1800
5. FROGMORE TAVERN
The new rooftop patio is reason enough to check out Frogmore Tavern. The sleek pine patio and bar seat 65, neatly doubling the restaurant’s capacity. Inside, Frogmore—note the frog figurines above the door—has the dark good looks of an English pub, but save for a nod to the U.K. with its ultra-rich Scotch eggs, the menu smacks of Southern comfort food. Here you’ll find BBQ shrimp and grits, poutine with fried chicken livers and crispy pork belly, and house-smoked pastrami tacos with pickled jalapeño—as well as many other freshly smoked meats. If these dishes don’t fill you up, pile on a side of hush puppies or a bowl of dirty rice.
63 N. Front Street, Kingston / (845) 802-0883
6. GARDEN HOUSE
Opened last summer by the owners of Rosendale’s popular Big Cheese deli, Garden House takes the concept of community gathering place one step further with a huge outdoor garden—the centerpiece of which is a wood-fired oven that produces such delicacies as goat cheese pizza and grilled red snapper. Chef Naheda Hamdan, a Dubai Hilton alumna, is Jordanian, and her Middle Eastern influence permeates delectably seasoned dishes like the kofta kabob with parsley, garlic, onion, and freshly whipped lemon-garlic sauce. Among the numerous satisfying vegetarian plates is a roasted half eggplant with chopped tomato smothered in tahini. In cooler months, the restaurant’s cheery farmhouse-style interior makes for an inviting refuge.
4 Hardenburgh Lane, Rosendale / (845) 658-3131
7. COMMUNE SALOON, 8. SHINDIG, and 9. TINKER TACO LAB
Woodstock’s revitalization is in full gear, with new eateries popping up around town, and the Bearsville Complex’s renovated courtyard open for business, complete with food service and fire pit. Overlooking the courtyard, the new Commune Saloon serves up tasty, seasonal small plates, such as grilled Black Horse Farms asparagus with Dijon vinaigrette and cured egg, and exquisite craft cocktails like the pickled ramp martini. Just down Tinker Street is Shindig. The tiny storefront eatery is packing in locals and tourists alike with its modest prices and modern takes on comfort food. The mac and cheese offers a rich blend of Gruyère, fontina, béchamel, truffle oil, and a Parmesan bread-crumb crust—for just $10. Steps away from Shindig, Tinker Taco Lab is breaking new ground with its authentic Mexican street tacos and tamales. Owner James Jennings makes his cheese, cream, pickled vegetables, and tamale and taco dough in-house. Be sure to try the best-selling pork-belly confit taco with jalapeño jam.
Commune Saloon 297 Tinker Street, Woodstock / (845) 684-0367 or (845) 810-1480
Shindig 1 Tinker Street, Woodstock / (845) 684-7091
Tinker Taco Lab 54th Tinker Street, Woodstock / (845) 679-8226