Although I could spend a lot of time (and text) explaining why it took so long to get to the Dutch Ale House in Saugerties, I’d rather tell you about the great food and wonderful atmosphere we found when we finally made it there.
Dallas and Ted Gilpin, who had made it a regular Friday night stop on their way up from the city, bought the Dutch Ale House earlier this year. First up, a renovation to make it more inviting than its previous look—a bad school cafeteria with holes in the sheetrock, according to Dallas. Opening up a wall between two spaces has given it a seamless and inviting dining room.
Then find a chef. Their friend, chef Jonathan Botta was just finishing up a gig in North Carolina and is now running the kitchen (and outside smoker).
They wanted to shift from classic pub-grub to a more local, fresh, farm-friendly fare that celebrates its pub roots. There are burgers and wings and fish & chips, but everything has a twist.
An Ale House has to have beer and you’ll find about 15 on tap, many from New York. There are about a dozen others in bottles or cans, wines by the glass or bottle and signature cocktails. I had “A Walk in the Park” which was sencha (green) and black iced tea with fresh lemonade, basil and your choice of alcohol. I passed on the booze and enjoyed one of the best iced teas in memory.
We started with a special that will soon make it to the regular menu—pimento cheese. If you’re from the South, this is one of those things that you probably grew up with. For those of us up here, Jonathan’s version (served with de rigueur Ritz crackers) was a great treat! There’s a bit of spice courtesy of Vesta Dry Hot Sauce (which was so good, I promptly ordered a jar) which may or may not be traditional, but was delicious, especially with some great local pickles. “I’ve never enjoyed pimento cheese so much in my life” was Frank’s verdict.
He had the beet salad with roasted red and gold beets, pickled shallots, pea shoots, cashews and smoked blue cheese. He said it was one of his favorite beets salads, with perfectly cooked beets and a light dressing that enhanced all the flavors.
Next up, their house-made smoked bratwurst and kielbasa, served with some locally made sauerkraut that Chef Botta perks up with caraway seeds. There’s a side of India Pale Ale spiked mustard for dunking or spreading. My favorite was the bratwurst, but I wouldn’t say no to the kielbasa. Both had that nice snap to the skin and terrific flavor.
For main courses, they sent us out the salmon, hot smoked and spice-crusted. It was served over a bed of corn, Swiss chard, fennel and cream (their version of creamed corn). I was surprised to see Frank, not normally a salmon lover, digging into it and barely sharing. Yes, it was that good!
The Dutch Ale House’s signature dish is a pastrami beef rib. The best way of describing it would be to tell you to go order it, but barring that, imagine pastrami on the bone. It’s a huge rib, brined, smoked and crusted with the spices that you would use for pastrami. It comes with potatoes, chard and celery root and a horseradish sauce for the beef. It’s wonderful and it’s huge. If you were considering it, I would tell you to skip the appetizers, but they were so good, I’ll just suggest you come prepared to take some home with you (it made terrific sandwiches the next day).
We were so full that there was a lot to take home, but in the name of research, went for the homemade panna cotta topped with peach preserves for dessert. I’m not usually a fan of what my friend refers to as beige toothless desserts but managed to make a big dent in the panna cotta. It was rich and creamy, and the peach preserves were a lovely topping.
One of the other highlights of the evening was getting to know Dallas. She’s delightful and obviously cares about the Dutch Ale House and making sure everyone has a good meal and a good time. We certainly did!
My two regrets? That we took so long to get there and that we don’t live just a little bit closer….
Thanks to Dallas and Jonathan for a delicious meal, we’ll be back soon!
Update: We’ve been back many times and always enjoy it!
253 Main St, Saugerties, NY 12477