Ship to Shore: A Former Waterfront Speakeasy’s Transformation to Culinary Destination

  |  December 11, 2014

A restaurant whose interior is welcoming for every occasion.

On a cold and snowy February day in 2007, my partner Gary and I decided to make a Sunday escape from Manhattan. For months we’d contemplated purchasing a home outside of the city, and our initial searches focused on houses in Dutchess and Sullivan counties. Frankly, we just couldn’t find a home whose community was a suitable match in those areas. On the suggestion of a friend, we decided to broaden our search to include Ulster County. So despite the snow, we headed off on a Sunday driving adventure that would change our lives.

Upon arriving in Kingston, we were instantly taken by the city’s architectural beauty. Naturally, per our usual car trip dynamic, Gary and I arrived starving. In my pre-trip research, I learned one of Kingston’s most appealing aspects was its waterfront district. Well versed in the waterfront districts of Annapolis, Maryland, Charleston, South Carolina, and Stonington, Connecticut, Gary and I always love to find a waterfront eatery whose cuisine is as appealing as its aesthetics. A quick point of clarification: While I am a foodie, Gary is a meat-and-potatoes (and fried chicken) kind of guy. So finding a restaurant whose menu appeals to both of our appetites is a journey in itself. Nestled in a row of 1870s waterfront buildings, we found Ship to Shore.


Ship to Shore’s Harbor view affords a setting for outside seasonal dining.

Ship to Shore, with its appealing New Orleans-styled facade and exposed brick interior, is one of those restaurants that grabs you in a warm embrace… the type that says, “Come in. Relax. Stay a while.” Much to our pleasure, the menu was a perfect fit to our divergent culinary tastes. Pan seared foie gras, French onion soup, lamb sliders, barbecued brisket, and yes, fried chicken. We were hooked. Our luncheon was so delicious, the restaurant so appealing, the staff so gracious, that to this day when I reflect upon our first days in Kingston, Ship to Shore comes to mind. In the past seven years, like many couples in the area, we have celebrated anniversaries with friends, welcomed visiting guests, and attended many a birthday celebration at Ship to Shore. Samir Hrichi, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, understands the importance of designing a menu that will appeal to urbanites as well as those, like Gary, who favor a more traditional fare.

The yellowfin tuna stacker is equally popular with restaurant goers and catering clients.

The yellowfin tuna stacker is equally popular with restaurant goers and catering clients.

Once I developed a social circle and began hosting charity events in Ulster County, the need for a caterer arose. My first call was to my new friend Samir. Over the years Samir and I have worked on many an event together. A marvelous June cocktail party remembered for its pairing of a dynamic setting with tempting culinary delights. A jazz-filled party with a menu as chic as the warehouse space in which it was held. Countless gallery openings and museum events. On every occasion neither dietary constraints nor requests for signature cocktails rattled the ever-calm Samir. Never one to shy away from a culinary adventure, Samir has crafted delicious hampers for picnics, whipped up onboard menus for Hudson River sailing adventures, celebrated the bounty of the region with farm-to-table events, and of course, assisted more than a few brides with their nuptial celebrations.

Samir Hrichi, chef/owner Ship to Shore.

Samir Hrichi, chef/owner Ship to Shore.

Recognizing the need for expansion and diversification, in 2015 Samir will launch a new full-service catering and to-go marketplace. Throughout his seventeen-year career as chef/owner of Ship to Shore, Samir has held a keen eye on the future — a similarity shared with the restaurant’s initial owners who converted the former speakeasy into Kingston’s first waterfront restaurant — while still serving Gary’s fried chicken and my fois gras. The new catering and to-go market will expand Samir’s audience to event planners and brown-baggers alike.

About Haynes Llewellyn

Haynes Llewellyn, an interior designer, preservationist and accomplished party planner, relocated to the Hudson Valley city of Kingston from Manhattan’s Central Park West neighborhood in 2007. During Haynes’s almost nine years in the Hudson Valley, he has been featured in numerous television, radio, magazine and newspaper interviews. Haynes’s first Kingston restoration project was of a Historic 1840’s Greek Revival home, featured in the recently released Rizzoli Interior Design book Heart and Home: Rooms that Tell Stories by Linda Okeeffe. Haynes has served on a number of boards of directors, event committees and commissions since arriving in the Hudson Valley. Haynes, along with his two Scottish Terrier Rescues and partner Gary Swenson, is currently in the process of renovating his second Kingston home, a 1939 Colonial.

Read more from Haynes Llewellyn

Read On, Reader...