- Photo: John Garay
- Chef Rich Reeve and owner/general manager Kyle Kelley at Bia in Rhinebeck.
When we say "Irish food" and "Chinese food," we're willing to bet you thought of pub pot pies and greasy take-out dumplings served with sauce from little plastic packets. And who doesn't love those things? But as the world gets smaller and the Hudson Valley food scene gets bigger (and loftier), there's more to learn—and more to love.
Of late, gourmet tacos take over a train station in Newburgh; light Polish fare finds a home in Midtown Kingston; Rhinebeck welcomes both an inventive, upscale Irish spot and a "farm to chopsticks" Chinese eatery by a Connecticut-born chef with Michelin-starred pedigree; and, in a midcentury diner off the Taconic in Ancram, even American food gets more worldly. Read on for the fancy new brunch or dinner options that have opened in the last year.
Chef Rich Reeve has been elevating pub fare since he took over the kitchen at Brady's in Poughkeepsie in the '90s. For 12 years, Reeve and his partner Maya served up inventive tapas and punk rock on vinyl in Uptown Kingston before closing (to much public outcry) last spring. After shutting off the last burner, they peaced out to experience the gastronomic marvels of Cork, Galway, and Dublin. Turns out, that was no early retirement. At Kyle Kelley's recently opened Irish fusion restaurant in Rhinebeck, Reeve is incorporating his favorite Celtic concepts with creativity and flare. Find seasonally-inspired innovations like venison carpaccio; Earl Gray-cured Irish salmon served with crème freche, dilled cucumbers, and caviar; pork belly and lobster in black pudding and cider reduction ($28); and warm date pudding in toffee sauce and clotted cream ($9). A three-course prix-fixe is $30.
22 Garden Street, Rhinebeck
Hudson TacoIn the late 1950s, the 1909 West Shore Train Station in Newburgh was boarded up and left to rot, sitting forgotten on the banks of the Hudson until an eight-year renovation commenced in 2001. Now it has found the perfect tenant. At Hudson Taco, diners can enjoy empanadas, street corn, churros, and, of course, tacos under the glimmer of high-design lighting fixtures and exposed ductwork. Or, in summer, opt for a table on the 60-foot patio with sweeping Hudson River views. Colorful little tacos start at $2.50, including vegetarian options like the mushroom and shishito taco with queso fresco, and the cauliflower with dates, pine nuts, and charred salsa. Things get fusion-y with the Korean BBQ short rib or ponzu salmon "tartaco." Just a few bites each, our recommendation is to try a bit of everything. The drinks list includes around 40 different tequila options, six mezcals, and four specialty margaritas (from $9 to $12), not to mention a custom corn lager made with locally sourced malt by their pals at the Newburgh Brewing Company.
27 Water Street, Newburgh.
- Photo: Jennifer May
- Lucky Dragon
Just around the block from Bia on Market Street, Lucky Dragon has cut out two big jobs for itself: the first, expanding the American concept of Chinese food to encompass thoughtfully plated, traditional Mandarin, Cantonese, and Sichuan dishes made with fresh, local ingredients; the second, making the phrase “farm-to-chopsticks” a thing. The first is going beautifully so far. The second? Only time will tell. Award-winning local restaurateurs Chris and Howard Jacobs took their mutual love of flavorful, regionally specific Chinese cuisine and the dim sum of their past Chinatown adventures in Toronto and San Francisco and applied the farm-to-table ethos. Chef Alex Burger, who honed his expertise at Michelin-starred establishments, including Daniel Boulud’s legendary Daniel in New York, will retain his current post as executive chef at the Jacobs’ first Rhinebeck outpost The Amsterdam, while also taking on that role for Lucky Dragon. With the aim of “authentic” Chinese, his menu is shaped in part by his experience working in restaurants in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore. Diners can find Chinese takeout classics—crab rangoon ($8), General Tso’s chicken ($18)—but taken up a notch and paired, less classically, with a tiki cocktail.
38 West Market Street, Rhinebeck
West Taghkanic Diner
If pastoral Ancram was waiting for its foodie revolution, it lucked out when local Kristopher Schram decided to come back home and buy a classic chrome roadside diner. Complete with a politically incorrect neon sign and shiny, bright red banquets, the West Taghkanic Diner has been slinging all-American diner fare since the early 1950s. But in recent years, locals report it had gone downhill. Now, Schram—who cut his teeth in executive positions from Napa Valley to Copenhagen—has taken over the West Taghkanic, staying true to the "diner concept," with a menu of largely under-$10 dishes including pancakes, burgers, Greek salads, and, of course, some trendy new favorites (#avocadotoast). But, all the ingredients (and the kombucha) are now locally sourced, and the bacon and homemade pastrami are smoked on premises. Local 'nduja and stracciatella crown the omelets, the wine is natural, and the negronis are legit. This is diner fare, elevated.
1016 Route 82, Ancram
Tucked back from Main Street overlooking the creek, Binnekill Square was a Margaretville mainstay since 1978, beloved for its warm, no-frills ambiance and hearty Alpine fare, but in 2015, its octogenarian owners finally closed their doors. This past October, chef Bryan Calvert, of Brooklyn restaurant fame, reopened it as the Binnekill Tavern, aiming to keep that spirit alive. Calvert has hung on to, but reimagined, some of the original owners' menu items and expanded from there for a robust, expertly executed, Borscht Beltian menu of "mountain comfort food" that includes a Caesar-style baby kale salad ($9), bratwurst and beans ($12), and pork schnitzel with braised red cabbage, apples, spaetzle, and dill mustard ($22). Enjoy it in the elegantly renovated tavern and dining room with the original copper bar and handmade-in-New York wooden chairs and dining tables. Or head outside to the deck to dine creekside in the warmer months.
746 Main Street, Margaretville
- Photo: Peter Crosby
- Lis Bar in Kingston.
Even following the reopening of the Kozy Bar space as The Beverly in 2016, this residential Midtown block behind the Kingston Hospital was a quiet one—the earth-rattling cacophony of passing trains notwithstanding. But since O+ weekend 2018, The Beverly has a hot new neighbor: Polish-inspired Lis Bar, kicking Midtown's real estate values up another notch with a tastefully curated antique-meets-modern interior and housemade pierogies. A staunchly Polish menu of small plates fit for sharing—rye soup, dill spaetzle, beef tongue—makes room for fun and flare with colorful takes like the beet pasta with dandelion pesto, peas, walnut oil, cured egg yolk ($12). And, an ambitious wine program corks boutique Eastern European and natural varieties that will stretch your oenophilic vocabulary. Sample traditionally crafted Georgian rosés, Hungarian blaufränkischs, and more on Lis's "Raw Wine Sundays," in flight-format for the most adventure with the least commitment.
240 Foxhall Avenue, Kingston
- Photo: Evan Sung
- A martini at the Restaurant Kinsley in Kingston.
- Photo: Evan Sung
- A crudite platter at the Restaurant Kinsley in Kingston.
Last month, the new restaurant in the lobby of Hotel Kinsley opened. Located in Kingston's historic State of New York National Bank building, the space features legacy 14-foot ceilings, huge French windows, and travertine floors, amidst a tasteful neutral-toned redesign. The restaurant is helmed by Executive Chef Gabe Ross, whose resume includes stints at Savoy, 5 Ninth, and Gramercy Tavern. "The idea behind a hotel restaurant has always been to feature dishes that are very elevated but also comforting and familiar," Ross says. The appetizers range from an extravagantly sculptural take on the simple crudite platter to a light but rich housemade chicken liver pate served with a thin layer of port gelee, pickled onion, and toast ($14). The roasted chicken main, served on a bed of olives and scallions, swirling in pan jus, was a highlight ($23); as was the arctic char, served with potatoes, pearl onions, cultured cream, and horseradish ($26). Don't skimp on your pre-dinner aperitif; the drink list offers tastefully executed cocktails for lovers of every spirit—some original, some gentle twists on classics—plus a natural wine list. If you tend to knock back a drink in two sips, try the delightfully spicy Big Pink ($12), a tequila drink made with a hint lime, strawberry, and enough jalapeño to slow your roll.
301 Wall Street, Kingston
ca.1883 Tavern at Stewart House
Lucky for Athens, when the former owners of New York's landmark East Village rock venue Webster Hall tried to quit the grind and retire to a life of leisure upstate, they didn't do such a hot job. Instead, they dove right into a massive new project: a spare-no-expense renovation of the stunning, 136-year-old Stewart House. One of two restaurants on premises, the ca.1883 Tavern is an impeccable resurrection of the era, with its ornate tin ceilings finished in the same hue as the original Art Deco wood bar, set against the ethereal pastels of a hand-painted, Colonial-style mural that came with the building. Unlike some of its peers among this new generation of Hudson Valley eateries, the menu at ca.1883 doesn't demand an open mind nor an online dictionary. Find familiar, comfortable choices confidently executed by CIA alum Chef Bob Turner, like a cheddar double cheeseburger ($16), a roasted half chicken over lemon rice with asparagus ($26), or an elegant take on steak and potatoes ($29), with Jane's Ice Cream for dessert. The afternoon happy hour features $2 oysters.
2 North Water Street, Athens