- Roy Gumpel
- Brianna Cashen looks west from the top of the Ferncliff Forest fire tower in Rhinebeck.
There is no shortage of eateries in the Hudson Valley, so for a tiny, historic village to be known as a foodie destination, it's got to pack an impressive array of dining options into a small area. Rhinebeck proudly fits the bill.
Sure, the village is well known for a variety of things—namely, its boutiques, historic attractions, and horse culture—but this isn't a case of "Jack of all trades, master of none." Rhinebeck's culinary culture is an experience that leads you by your senses; once evening settles in, the air is filled with savory scents complemented by a soundtrack of clinking glasses and fork-to-plate squeaks. If you weren't hungry by five o'clock, you're salivating by seven. Whatever your mood, options abound: Choose by ethnicity—French, Thai, Italian; by proximity to activities—Foster's Coach House Tavern is a budget-friendly eatery/pub located next to indie cinema Upstate Films; or by in-house entertainment—a hot spot for live music is the Liberty Public House. You can also decide based upon your ideal dining atmosphere; there's a sophisticated tavern in a historic inn (Tavern at Beekman Arms); a romantic French/Mediterranean restaurant (Arielle); a family- and wallet-friendly retro diner (Eveready Diner); or a renovated church where the crowd is chic and the fresh, New American food is divine (Terrapin). What you won't find: bland chain eateries or vast, overcompensating dining rooms with questionable menu options (such as "Riverfront Restaurant Who Shall Not Be Named").
- Roy Gumpel
- Tivoli Deputy Mayor/painter Joel Griffith looking toward the Catskills on the bank of the Hudson River.
Shop owners have taken notice of this culinary craze and have added inventory that appeals to local and visiting foodies. Holly Raal, owner of Bumble and Hive—a boutique on East Market Street that offers honey-based soaps and candles, plus gift items, collectibles, and more—set up a Honey Bar in her shop. "When I opened in 2011, we offered just a few honey-based items. The customer response was so great that I started offering more culinary honeys and honey health products that I get from local apiaries and beekeepers," she says. At the honey bar, customers can sample 30 types of honey, each of which has a different flavor and health benefit. "The honey bar is great for people who want to have an interactive experience," she says. "We have some staff members who are CIA grads and can thoroughly explain the culinary aspects of the honey samples. Plus, we're passionate about supporting products that are ethical and local, and Honey Bar visitors can learn more about the importance of bees, ethical products, and more."
Around the corner at Montgomery Row—a small strip of shops and restaurants—you'll find Oblong Books, a locally owned bookstore with a larger-than-average offering of cookbooks and food writing. As the demand increased for culinary literature, the shop quickly sought to meet expectations. "We've certainly increased our culinary section," says manager Suzanna Hermans, who co-owns the shop with her father, Dick, who opened the store's original location in Millerton in 1975. "We have a lot of Culinary Institute students that this appeals to, and now that Rhinebeck has become a foodie destination, cookbooks are a big section for us. Customers are very interested in our variety; we have a wide selection, including gluten-free, vegan, and all the specialties people are into these days."
- Roy Gumpel
- Lucian Diamond, Jonny Diamond, Dr. Ruby K, Mike Gonnella, and Ellie Gunther-Mohr at Tivoli Bread and Baking.
Oblong's author events are just as popular as its carefully chosen selection and the store hosts about 80 events per year for all ages. The recently started Hudson Valley Young Adult Society, for example, meets once a month and sees anywhere from 50 to 200 attendees. "We're very fortunate to have a very literary community here in Rhinebeck—meaning, one that values literature and what we offer as far as bringing authors to the area," she says. "Our goal is getting people to fall in love with books and to discover their next favorite author. The store is very curated; every book is chosen by hand. We read a lot, know our inventory, and can recommend a book for everyone."
Keep an eye out for their extensive local interest section, featuring Hudson Valley authors, regional history, and a few self-published titles not available in larger bookstores.
While Rhinebeck is better known for its happenings than nearby Red Hook, there is still much to do in the small town once known as Hardscrabble. Along its outskirts you'll find Taste Budd's Chocolate & Coffee Café, a funky little coffee shop and eatery with delicious coffees (including fair trade and organic blends), scrumptious sweets, and a mixed crowd ranging from artsy teens to—well, artsy adults. If the town seems quiet on Thursdays it's because almost everyone is at the café's open mic night—possibly one of the most supportive, encouraging environments for an open mic in the Mid-Hudson region; there's just a great community vibe.
- Roy Gumpel
- The Cow Gals performing at the Rhinebeck Farmers Market.
This communal attitude seems to be a Red Hook trait. Like many Hudson Valley towns, there can sometimes be a "rural folk vs. city visitor" mentality, as well as a distinct line between conservative and liberal environmentalists, but each seems to share a common goal—maintaining Red Hook as a safe and charming town. Bonnie Scheweppe—who opened Living Eden with business partner Bobbi Jo Forte in May—learned this firsthand. The shop offers recycled, upcycled, locally made, fair trade, and USA-made items plus organic and gluten-free foods. "We thought we'd have a niche market, but we actually cater to a very mixed crowd," Scheweppe says. "The very, very conservative bunch want made-in-America products, and the very, very liberal love the cruelty-free, vegan items. And since our items range in prices, we can appeal to anyone. We refer to it as Conscious Capitalism. We want people to understand why buying locally made or fair trade is important. We didn't just open a shop for the sake of opening a shop—we knew if we did this for the right reasons everything would work out, and so far it's been great."
For a taste of the nightlife and local happenings, stop by Bread and Bottle for a glass of wine or craft beer and locally sourced charcuterie (live music takes place during weekends), or head to Mercato Osteria & Enoteca for fine Italian dining with its seasonally changing menu and hard-to-find wines. Enjoy a lively, daylong community celebration during Hardscrabble Day, a family-friendly event featuring fun activities, food vendors, music, and more (September 21), but before that, take part in the Sixth Annual Art Studio View Tour, during which various private art studios will open their doors to the public for a peek into their creative processes. This event takes place the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day Weekend at various venues throughout Red Hook, Rhinebeck, Hyde Park, and Tivoli (ArtStudioViews.com). After exploring the studios, any Tivoli-bound fiber artist or knitter will want to check out Fabulous Yarn, which has a huge selection of luxury yarns produced by top brands. (With the fiber-art resurgence in the Valley, we know there are bound to be a few of you.) The shop also features local yarns from Buckwheat Bridge and Alpatrax.
- Roy Gumpel
- Murray's in Tivoli.
An emphasis on buying local and supporting the area's farms and purveyors rings throughout Tivoli. A dish from the all-day brunch menu at Murray's, for instance, features seasonally changing ingredients sourced from Valley growers. Chef Rei Peraza of Panzur, a Spanish gastropub and wine bar, cooks with the same local/seasonal philosophy, but serves small plates with Old World flavor. Larger meals, such as paella dishes or pig feasts that can each serve up to 10 people, are available with advanced notice. The wine bar offers more than 100 bottles, largely from Spain, and has received acclaim from local and national publications. For savory Southwestern flavor, try Santa Fe, a Tivoli cornerstone whose vibrant décor is as authentic as its Enchiladas Tipicas.
Local goodies, fruits, and veggies—including the ability to pick your own apples and pumpkins—are available at Mead Farms through October. Anyone planning to visit Tivoli during the fall should also mark November 7 to 10 on their calendars for NEWvember, a festival of new plays, presented by the town's Tangent Theatre Company, that takes place at the Carpenter Shop Theater (NewvemberFestival.com).
Annex Antiques (845) 758-2843
Art Studio Views
Atelier Renee Fine Framing
Bard Center for Environmental Policy
George Cole Auctions
Law Offices of Michel P. Haggerty
Northern Dutchess Botanical Gardens
Pet Country (845) 876-9000
Red Hook Emporium
Rhinebeck Antique Emporium
Rhinebeck Artist’s Shop
Rhinebeck Department Store