With this frigid weather, chances are you haven’t gotten out as much as you’d like. Now that it’s Restaurant Week in the Hudson Valley starting Monday, March 9 through Sunday, March 22, you might want to bundle up and take advantage of the discounted-dining prix fixe menus.
You’ll have to do some homework first. Take a peek at the page that lists all the participating restaurants at www.hudsonvalleyrestaurantweek.com and start by picking the county, cuisine or town. Or begin with the finest high-end restaurants, because that’s where you might find a meal at a fraction of the usual price. It’s a great opportunity to try a restaurant. Most of them offer a three-course dinner for $29.95 or a three-course lunch for $20.95. Several of the menus are listed on the website.
Hudson Valley Restaurant Week started as a goodwill gesture for reporters, lunch only, in New York City in 1992 during the Democratic National Convention held there. When Janet Crawshaw and Jerry Novesky, founders of the Valley Table, later dined at Waldy Malouf’s restaurant Beacon, Crawshaw “noticed that a lot of the ingredients were from the Hudson Valley.” Since their magazine is all about farms and food, they decided to start the concept in the Valley. Restaurant Week now occurs twice annually during the early spring and late fall. The prices have remained the same as when it started nine years ago.
The food scene is growing, and locally sourced ingredients have become more and more available. You can find local beers, wines, cheeses and meats offered this time of the year. A few of the participating restaurants have also taken a Pride of New York Pledge to use a minimum of ten percent of New York-made products on their menus: the Crabtree Kittle House, Duo Bistro, Terrapin, the Village Tea Room and Bake Shop and the Caterina de’ Medici and Bocuse Restaurants at the Culinary Institute of America.
This year 218 restaurants are participating in Hudson Valley Restaurant Week and 25 of them are new to the event. “Most highlight something local on their menus,” said Crawshaw, “for instance, Sprout Creek cheeses in Poughkeepsie and the wines from Millbrook and Whitehall. There is a trend to cooking with the wines and beers.”
This year there are 13 restaurants in Ulster County participating (up from five), including Rock and Rye Tavern, A Tavola and The Huguenot in New Paltz, The Would in Highland, Tuthill House at the Mill in Gardiner, Frogmore Tavern in Kingston, the Bear Café in Woodstock, Diamond Mills in Saugerties and the Ship Lantern Inn in Milton. Some of the 30 participating Dutchess County restaurants include Terrapin in Rhinebeck, the Artist’s Palate, Brasserie 292 and the Mill House Brewing Company in Poughkeepsie, Joseph’s Steakhouse in Hyde Park, The Roundhouse in Beacon and Daryl’s Place in Pawling. Most prix fixe menus are available during the week, though some exclude weekends; you need to check. Diners can also order from the regular menus. None of the deals include beverages or gratuities.
Scanning through the menus you can find some vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free items. Sometimes, for the uninitiated, a “GF” or “MVG” or “MWF” found on some could be a source of confusion or the cause for a humorous moment. Does that mean grilled or fried? In one case it reflects a restaurant’s desire to be accommodating. MVG means that it can be made vegan, and MWF means that it’s made with flour. (No WTFs or LOLs have been noticed.)
Having found Broccoli with Pistachios, Chilies and Mint on one menu, and Kabocha Squash Toast with Caramelized Onions on another, it might be time to make a reservation in advance. Maple-brined Pork Chops with Calvados Apple Demi-glace (MWF) sound pretty good too. Make sure to say that it’s for Restaurant Week when you reserve. They love it when you become a regular customer, and if it’s good food, why not? Check it out.
Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, March 9-22, nearly 200 area restaurants, $29.95/ $20.95; (845) 765-2600, www.hudsonvalleyrestaurantweek.com.