Restaurants

Silvia Restaurant: Global and Seasonal in Woodstock

by Anne Maxfield on January 22, 2018

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant InteriorIf you’re looking for a restaurant in the Woodstock area, check out Sylvia. Silvia (named for owners Doris and Betty Choi’s grandmother) opened in August on Mill Hill Road.

There’s a big deck (open in warmer weather) and a discreet sign over the door.

Once inside, you’re looking at a big open dining room, an active, open kitchen and a smaller more intimate room with additional seating and a lively bar.

We were seated at a corner table near the bar, where we could see all the kitchen activity.

The star of Silvia’s open kitchen is a massive wood-fired grill (which was one of the deciding factors in ordering that night’s special—a massive pork chop).

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant BBQ BeefWe started with the Grass Fed BBQ Beef. It was shredded beef to wrap in lettuce leaves and garnish with cabbage salad, kimchi, and topped with the traditional miso garlic paste. The beef was tender and flavorful. We all liked it a lot, but being veterans of many Korean dinners, would have liked the kimchi to pack more heat.

Frank ordered the Chicken Liver Toast, which looked great with its decoration of jeweled beets. He loved it, and we all really liked the horseradish mustard that accompanied it.

Although we scoffed at him when he ordered a salad (thinking it was going to be too much food), the Crumbled Caesar was a terrific riff on a Caesar salad. It featured a poached egg on a bed of escarole, studded with crispy shiitake mushrooms, Parmesan crisps and sourdough croutons in a Caesar dressing. We loved the crunch of the shiitakes and Parmesan crisps.  It was, as Frank said, “simply terrific.”

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant Caesar SaladAs I mentioned, the pork chop special caught my eye. It was a massive 22-ounce chop from Chaljeri Meats, one of many local farmers they work with. It was perfectly cooked, tender and delicious, on a bed of grilled red cabbage. A terrific chop!

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant Pork ChopMy friend went for the Pan Seared Arctic Char which came with broccoli rabe, grilled lemon, parsnip chips and charred leeks with a salsa verde. The sweetness of the fish went well with the bitterness of the broccoli rabe and the salsa was a perfect accompaniment to the char.

Frank got the burger, a tower of meat, shredded Brussels sprouts, cambozola cheese (think Brie meets Gorgonzola), caramelized onions with fries and house ketchup. The fries were good as was the ketchup, but he was way too full from the appetizers and salad to really do justice to his burger.

Portions were generous and everything we took home made for a great lunch the next day!

We didn’t have a chance (or the room) to explore the vegetable menu, but there were some very tempting dishes offered, ranging from pan seared Brussels sprouts to grilled shisito peppers and an ash-roasted kuri squash to name a few.

Accidental Locavore Silvia Restaurant Chocolate TorteAfter a fairly meat-centric menu, it was surprising to see the dessert menu veer towards healthy. There are 5 selections, with a seasonal panna cotta, a butternut squash pudding, a raw chocolate torte, a raw cashew key lime pie and a beet chocolate pots de crème. Both the torte and key lime pie are vegan, and gluten free. Frank had the chocolate torte, which looked amazing—dense layers of chocolate. He thought it was excellent! Because it was vegan and gluten-free, a mixture of nuts, dates and coconut oil replaced butter and the other usual suspects, so it was sadly off limits for me.

The restaurant has two main seating areas, we loved our seat in the bar room, it was cozy and surprisingly quiet even with a busy weekend crowd. If you’re with a family or in a larger group, you might want to opt for the livelier main dining room.

 

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Making the Most of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week

by Anne Maxfield on November 6, 2017

Accidental Locavore Burrata for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekHudson Valley Restaurant Week, like other restaurant weeks has been around for a while.

And like other restaurant weeks, there are always places that try to get away with as little as possible (in hopes that you’ll order off the regular menu) and places that strive to please.

We were lucky enough to hit two that went above and beyond.

The first, Caterina DeMedici at the Culinary Institute of America (aka the CIA), was a big surprise! We were invited by a friend of Frank’s to join him and his wife. The first surprise was that we were going to be seven for dinner. He had invited neighbors and other friends, so we had a nice big table with lots of talk back and forth.

The second surprise was that the food was interesting and delicious. You might be thinking, well, it’s the CIA, why wouldn’t it be good, but the last time we ate there, it was a slightly better prepared version of Olive Garden’s “all the pasta you can eat promotion”—lots of pasta, none of it memorable.

Other than the poorly named “Airline Chicken Breast” (which, no surprise, no one at our table ordered), there were a lot of interesting choices on the menu. I started off with the burrata, which came perched on top of arugula and prosciutto, with a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Hard to go wrong with burrata, and the creaminess of it worked perfectly with the saltiness of the prosciutto.

Accidental Locavore Pork Chop Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekTo follow, I went with the pork over polenta, with Brussels sprouts and a mustard jus. It was interesting because all three pork chops that were brought to the table were different shapes and sizes– a reminder that school was only in week two. They were good, and the mustard jus was a great accompaniment.

A few nights later, we went down to meet a couple of friends at Crabtree’s Kittle House. Chef Jay Lippin had been on my radio show and to paraphrase, “had me at lamb shanks”. There’s a full review of the restaurant coming up in the December issue of Organic Hudson Valley Magazine.

How many places do you know that have lobster bisque on their restaurant week menus? Crabtree’s does, and Frank ordered it. A big bowl with pieces of lobster and vegetables came to the table and the waiter poured the bisque over it. Delicious!

Accidental Locavore Lobster Bisque for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekI went for the gnocchi, which was browned (something I’ve never tried, but will!) and served with tiny oven-dried tomatoes and other local vegetables. It was gone in a flash!

Chef Lippin sent over a couple of his tuna sushi pizzettas–his take on tuna sushi for us to try between courses. All Frank could do was smile and groan happily. ‘Nuf said?

Accidental Locavore Tuna for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekThe lamb shank had been on my mind for a week or more, and it was great! Falling off the (very large) bone, and once again on a bed of polenta (this time, really tasting of corn) with broccolini and a red wine sauce. It was a huge portion and the leftovers will make a great lunch!

Frank was once again reduced to smiling with pleasure over the pasta with a Bolognaise sauce made with local venison, pork and beef. I was granted a small bite and could see why he wasn’t sharing!

Accidental Locavore Cavatelli for Hudson Valley Restaurant WeekDesserts were terrific, and we drove home muttering about eating too much, but loving every mouthful!

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week runs through Friday, November 12th so you still have time to make a reservation.

I’ve got one more dinner planned, Thursday night at The Amsterdam, then I’d better be fasting until Thanksgiving!

 

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Charlotte’s Restaurant in Millbrook

by Anne Maxfield on October 16, 2017

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant GardenThere are some restaurants that are classics, frozen in time–places that seem to have been around forever.

Stalwarts.

A gastronomic tweak here or there to make them seem relevant and business pours in year after year.

Charlotte’s in Millbrook is one of those places.

It’s a cozy combination of rooms, the general impression is of floral chintzes and fireplaces. In the summer there’s a quiet patio where you can enjoy a cocktail or dinner.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant InteriorPatrons of a certain age who have been coming every Friday night with family and friends.

The food is good. There’s nothing that will send you running for the doors, and most likely, nothing that will make you swoon with joy.

If you’ve been missing plates garnished with stuffed tomatoes sporting an erect sprig of rosemary and green beans wrapped with a contrasting carrot ribbon, Charlotte’s will not disappoint. No matter whether they’re described on the menu as fresh, seasonal, harvest, or garden fresh, it’s always the same carefully crafted combination.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant ChickenThe night we were there, my friend went for the pan roasted chicken with the Marsala sauce on the side. She got and enjoyed a nicely cooked chicken served over saffron risotto and accompanied by the aforementioned vegetables.

For whatever reason, I wanted duck that night and they were offering it with a blueberry sauce. That threw me for a loop until the waiter reminded me that duck usually comes with fruit sauce and my friend chimed in that, like her, I could always get it on the side.

Accidental Locavore Charlotte Restaurant DuckI went for it and got a fine serving of duck breast with the blueberry sauce (living dangerously—not on the side). It was also served over saffron risotto and vegetables but had a crunchy pile of fried onions topping it off. The duck was a little more well-done than I normally like, and the blueberry sauce added to the flavor of the duck.

The dessert menu offers standards like bread pudding, crème brûlée, lava cake and assorted house-made ice creams.

Charlotte’s is open for lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends. Check their website for events, like an upcoming comedy night.

 

 

 

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Jeanie Bean and Family

by Anne Maxfield on September 18, 2017

Accidental Locavore Jeanie Beans InteriorEveryone should have a place like Jeanie Bean’s in their neighborhood. A casual place where you can always grab some lunch to go, or catch up with friends at one of the charming mismatched tables.

The food is always good and the welcome is warm.

They’ve aimed and succeeded in making it a spot for locals. Michael Korda said in his book about the area, Country Matters, that the best place to run into a missing-in-action contractor was the local Dunkin Donuts, but these days I’d put my bet on Jeanie Beans.

People drop in for breakfast or lunch and to drop off the latest batch of birdhouses made from reclaimed barnwood and there’s always someone running into someone they’ve not seen in ages.

Accidental Locavore Birdhouses at Jeanie BeansThere’s a leaning towards all things British, since the owners hail from there, and while fish and chips are always on the menu, it doesn’t keep them from making a good burger or embracing Taco Tuesdays. During the week, there are daily specials and on weekends you’ve got the whole menu to choose from.

Accidental Locavore Candy at Jeanie BeansIn front, there’s a case full of house-made pastries, cookies and recently, good bagels “imported” from da Bronx.  Along the walls are boxes of British essentials – crisps, biscuits, jams, etc. and some local Hudson Valley products. In the freezer there are packages of bangers, containers of soups and other entrees all ready to go home with you.

My go-to is generally the fish and chips. Even when I think about ordering something else, a batch will come out of the fryer and I’ll change my mind (but I usually ask for skinny fries in place of the larger chips). You get 3 pieces of golden fried fish and a pile of fries with tartar sauce and good (recently great) house-made coleslaw on the side and of course, there’s real malt vinegar.

Accidental Locavore Jeanie Beans Fish and ChipsMy friend who hails from the UK always adds a chip butty to her order. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a piece of buttered, soft white bread that you use to make a sandwich with the chips and ketchup.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s an add-on you’re partial to.

Since it’s been getting cooler out, I’ve been leaning towards more comfort food, like their grilled cheese. There are lots of cheeses to pick from and they’re happy to mix and match. Adding some of their local bacon is never a bad idea either.

Burgers are big and tasty, and like the grilled cheese come with your choice of cheese and bacon if you’d like.

Accidental Locavore Jeanie Beans SandwichThere’s a menu full of classic sandwiches, including some specialties like meatball heroes and a Thanksgiving sandwich with turkey and all the fixings.

If you’re up and out early, there are lots of breakfast options. So far, I haven’t made it there before the breakfast cut-off point at 11:00, so I can’t give you the low-down on exactly what you might find there, but I’ve heard there’s a breakfast wrap that includes all the meaty essentials wrapped around eggs.

As Jeanie Bean says, “this is a deli, not a restaurant” so don’t expect tweezer-plated portions, just good solid food served in a cheerful neighborhood spot (and if she’s taking your order, just go with the flow – she knows what you want before you do).

Jeanie Bean and Family, 2411 Salt Point Turnpike, Clinton Corners, New York, NY 12514. Open daily 7-4.

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