Extreme Makeover: Café Edition
In 2015, we posted that the historic Bartlett House was for sale. Last summer, after 11 years of standing empty, the three-story square Italianate-style brick building on Route 66 was revived by a trio of entrepreneurs keen on curating a neighborhood destination known for its hospitality and old world charm. One year later—with both menu and mission in full bloom—they remain committed to transforming daily sustenance into sheer pleasure for those exploring the Hudson Valley.
The New Crew
Unyielding devotion to authenticity, craftsmanship, and hospitality permeate the newest iteration of the Bartlett House Kitchen, Bakery & Cafe in Ghent. Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg have spent the past 25 years cultivating their passion for transforming everyday routines into sensory rituals; the founders of the iconic oval-shaped Fresh soaps, in collaboration with partner Damien Janowicz, have created a destination in an oft-overlooked corner of the Hudson Valley. For this trio, inspiration comes from 18th century French chemist Antoine Lavoisier’s sentiment, “Nothing is lost, everything is transformed,” beginning with the very building in which they have set up shop. “A destination that you actually name is one thing; a destination that already has a name is a whole other thing” remarks Roytberg of the historic railroad hotel built in 1870 and resuscitated after more than a decade of dormancy.
In this case the destination, on an unassuming stretch of Route 66, is well worth the drive. Upon crossing a full-width front porch and spilling through a pair of original mahogany swinging doors, “individuals are greeted as if they are coming into [our] home not into [our] business,” says Janowicz. This old world sense of hospitality has been nourishing the community of Ghent, and beyond, since July 2016 when they first opened their doors. “We are always close to food,” says Roytberg, who notes the strong connection between culture and food both as the raw material for beauty remedies as well as for sustenance.
This unique alchemist approach is rooted in the meeting of artisanal baking methods and modern tastes—and the flour laden surfaces visible through windows on the ground floor reiterate that this place is, first and foremost, a bakery. “As long as I’ve known Lev, he’s been dreaming of baking bread,” says Roytberg. As a result, the Bartlett House ovens are turning out myriad crusty French breads from traditional and epi baguette, Pain de Mie, and multigrain Pullman loaves to country sourdough batards and apricot raisin walnut boule.
The bakery menu is punctuated by croissants—classic, dark chocolate, cheese and cracked pepper, and twice baked pistachio— as well as muffins, running the gamut from a traditional whole wheat buttermilk blueberry or raisin bran to the seasonal blackberry and beet and the exotic pear rosewater. Cherry Cornmeal scones are a staple, along with dark chocolate chip cookies, candied lemon zest Shortbread, and a dizzying array of cakes and tarts, the latter featuring the season’s local bounty. The sleek coffee bar, a marriage of dark mahogany and painted ceramic tile, serves up exceptional coffee sourced from Sightglass, a San Francisco-based company specializing in sustainable harvests, as well as a carefully curated selection of fine organic teas from Divinitea.
Their location—surrounded by farmers who have been cultivating the same fields for generations—gives way to menus created around the local farms and artisan producers that abound. The collective passion among Roytberg, Glazman, and Janowicz translates as palpable energy; what ensues is a veritable hub of culinary creation, inspired by the area’s rich harvest. Guests can also shop an eclectic collection of housewares—including Fresh soaps— as well as specialty foods, including their very own Bartlett House cherry apricot jam and local maple syrup from their ongoing partnership with Maple Leaf Sugaring of Ghent.
The convergence of these three individuals is nothing short of “kismet,” a word they use to describe the fate of their meeting. And their mission—to share a passion for people, comfort, art, and design—while creating inspiring environments and experiences that spark curiosity and awaken the spirit is indeed noble. “People are always drawn to authenticity,” says Glazman and this sentiment, echoed by his partners, is what has allowed for them to simultaneously build a dream while nourishing the community in a place firmly rooted in the history of the Hudson Valley.
2258 Route 66, Ghent, NY 12075
Friday and Saturday, 5:30-10pm