From New York:
Dining in New York's Hudson Valley
A River Runs Through It
by John Mariani
James called the Hudson River "a great romantic stream, such
as could throw not a little of its glamour over the city at its
mouth," a river that enthralled James Fenimore Cooper and Washington
Irving, and even had its own school of painters, including Albert
Bierstadt, Frederic Church, Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, George
Inness and John Kensett.
The main dining room, once home to cows, retains its old stonework, with new steel girders; its focal point is a beautiful, muted landscape of the region. The Barbers' food, which in Greenwich Village comes from a small kitchen, here takes advantage of the 80-acre farm, vast state-of-the-art greenhouse and huge, modern kitchen. Their cooking stresses few ingredients, impeccably rendered to respect their provenance, and you may hear more than you want about all this from the waitstaff.
Deeply flavorful chicken soup contains rosemary dumplings, sweetbreads and baby zucchini. Baby lamb is braised and roasted with a quinoa crust and healthful-sounding "vitamin greens." The braised bacon and roasted pig is a hearty, delicious entrée, bulked up with cotechino, a purée of kale and a cheese-rich potato gratin. Rhubarb soup is a lovely summer ending, dotted with fromage blanc sorbet and mint "iced" milk. Three courses are $46, four $56, and five $66, with an extensive wine list featuring a few notable Hudson Valley bottlings.
not so extravagant in its size or structure, Valley Restaurant
at the Garrison is gorgeously situated on a golf course, with
a "Mind Body Center," at a particularly lovely stretch
of the Valley near Bear Mountain Bridge and Storm King Mountain.
The white dining room is done in country period furniture, with
Windsor chairs, pretty plaid fabrics, flowers and a wall of wine.
Hudson Valley has one other property of munificence, a literal 125-room
castle built by a Civil War general. It lies on a hillside in Tarrytown,
above the broad Tappan Zee Bridge and adjacent to Marymount College,
whose golden dome gleams like a beacon for miles around. The Castle
on the Hudson's guest rooms are spacious and rich in antiques, and
the restaurant here is called Equus, set within three baronial
roomsthe Tapestry, Garden and Oak Roomsthat just beg
an appearance by a lord of the manor or a Hitchcockian hero. Here
you sit down to a lavish repast: pea soup with lump crab meat; hazelnut-crusted
foie gras with apple chutney and a Dutch apple fritter; Dover sole
sautéed with citrus-brown butter; and the Castle Chocolate
Cake with berry sauce. The four-course $64 dinner is a lavish spread
Our favorite French bistro on the river, set in an old Dutch-style house, is Buffet de la Gare, for more than twenty years an ideal spot to stop after touring the Valley. Chef-owner Gwenael Goulet is a rigorously French cook, turning out hearty fare like saucisson on lentils, a garlic-rich gigot of lamb cooked to a turn and a luscious Tarte Tatin. There is a convivial oak bar up front.
There is also good Spanish food and tapas to be found at Solera on Hudson, fine northern Italian fare at Lago di Como in Tarrytown and great pizza served with a magnificent view of the Palisades at Harvest-on-Hudson in Hastings-on-Hudson. And if you crave great sirloins, one of the best steakhouses anywhere in the U.S. is in Briarcliff ManorFlameswhose wine list is also one of the richest in the region. Ask owner Nick Vuli for his recommendations, and then agonize over whether to have the Prime beef or gargantuan lobsters.
(Updated: 09/18/12 DL)