It’s the Rondout Creek that runs alongside the newly-opened Creekside Bar & Bistro that gives the Rosendale-based restaurant its name. But the heart of the new business comes from its owners, who each have nearly two decades of experience knowing how to make restaurant patrons feel welcome. Juan Galvan and Reshma Ramoutar will be familiar faces to anybody who dined regularly at the original Gilded Otter in New Paltz, before it was sold to its present owners. The husband and wife team worked at The Otter as servers — she for 16 years and he for 18 — with his roles also including a stint in the kitchen and his final role there as a manager. The quality of service the two provided their customers over the years was outstanding, an authentic kind of caring that this reporter will vouch for as a regular of many years at that eatery.
Galvan is the extroverted half of the couple, easy to talk to and extremely personable, but Ramoutar, while possessing a more understated personality, is just as nice in her own way and equally kind. The couple met at The Otter and were together for 16 years before their recent marriage in September. They share a four-year-old son, Naveen, who as it turns out, was indirectly the reason his parents find themselves new restaurateurs at the location most recently occupied by Matsu Japanese restaurant, directly across from the Stewart’s on Route 32 North.
And it was all set into motion because of pizza. Over the years, the couple had talked about opening their own place, but their plans always remained “just kind of a dream,” says Galvan. But things at The Gilded Otter began changing under its new ownership, and ultimately, Galvan resigned as manager. “That was on a Monday,” he notes. “On Tuesday, we [he and Reshma] decided to get pizza for dinner. Our son likes pizza, and usually we get it from Rino’s and bring it back home to eat. But for some reason, that day Naveen insisted on coming to Antonio’s [the pizzeria next door to the new Creekside bistro]. Usually he’s happy to eat whatever we have, so I was surprised; I asked him, ‘Are you sure?’ And he insisted. So we live about three minutes from here, and we pull up, and they had just put the sign up on the door at Matsu saying they’d closed.”
Calls were made, meetings were set up, and friends who know about the restaurant business were called upon to offer advice or opinions, including former Otter owner, Rick Rauch, who, Galvan says, took one look at the space and told them they should take it. A few months of negotiating the lease ensued, and Creekside Bar & Bistro opened the last week of November.
The menu is not unlike that at the old Otter, which is no surprise given that the chef is Darrell Tidwell, also a veteran of that eatery. The style of food is basically “American bistro,” Galvan says. “We didn’t want to limit ourselves on what we can do, if we stuck to just one type of food. But with American bistro we can do just about anything we want to. Our basic menu is going to be hand-pressed burgers, New York strip steaks, cordon bleu sandwiches, nachos, stuff like that. And that’s the food we know; the best advice we got from restaurant people is to ‘stick with what you know.’”
Starters on the menu include a hummus platter ($9.95), panko-covered fried shrimp ($12.95) and chicken fingers with barbecue sauce ($8.95). Salads include a Caesar salad ($9.95) that can be topped with chicken, shrimp, salmon or steak (for an additional $4-$8), and the Creekside Lumberjack Stew is a blend of tender beef, carrots, celery, onions and potatoes ($9.95). Entrees include boneless grilled pork chops ($15.95) and Cajun grilled salmon with a tequila-lime sauce ($17.25). There are several burgers available ($10.95-$13.95) and sandwiches that include a chicken cordon bleu ($12.95) and a salmon BLT with pesto mayo ($13.95).
Specials will be offered on the weekends, and the couple hope to bring back some of the themed nights that The Otter was known for, such as the weekly lobster bake. “We’re thinking about doing Taco Tuesdays, Friday night fish ‘n’ chips… We’ll see what works and if it’s not working, we’ll change it,” says Galvan. “We’ll listen to the people, too, and see what they want.”
Happy hour at the bar is from 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and signature cocktails made with fresh ingredients are offered. “We’ll also have beer and shot deals, local beer on tap, cans of other beers and a frozen drink machine to do all kinds of things from frozen rosés and Pina Coladas to kids’ smoothies.”
From the outside, the location is unassuming; a small storefront painted bright blue, sandwiched in between a liquor store and a pizzeria. But anyone who never ventured inside the place in its former incarnations will be surprised by the spacious interior that extends back some 2,500 square feet. There are large booths along the wall with table seating at the back, opposite floor-to-ceiling glass doors that let in lots of natural light and a view of the Rondout Creek flowing by outside. Tall blackboards are next to the tables, offering a place for kids to scribble while waiting for their food, and outdoor dining on a patio is planned for the spring.
The bar, which was once the sushi counter at Matsu, seats more than 20 people and features an attractive “live” edge on the wood. Diners are welcome to eat at the bar, and there are also small bar tables at the front of the restaurant. One of the things Galvan says they are particularly pleased about with the bar is an area with a small “cut-out” making it handicapped accessible for diners who wish to eat at the bar.
Creekside Bar & Bistro is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with the exception of a 9:30 p.m. closing on Sundays. The new restaurateurs plan to be there every day, with Juan behind the bar and Reshma managing the front of the house. Her brother, Vishal — another former Otter server — will work there, as will other servers from that establishment, at least to help out while the new restaurant is being established. “We definitely want to have staff that will stay with us for a long time so we can have that family atmosphere again,” says Galvan. “That’s a big thing for us when we do the hiring.”
Overall, he says, the couple’s goal is to create a family-friendly environment while welcoming a good bar crowd, too. “We want to make it so anybody can come and feel like this is a spot for them. That’s basically what we’re going for. Families, people that just want to sit down and have a drink and quick food, or you’re getting off work and you want to stop by and have a quick plate of nachos and a beer. Very similar to the Otter atmosphere, where everybody’s welcome.”
Creekside Bar & Bistro is located at 1128 Route 32 North. in Rosendale. For more information, call (845) 658-2000 or visit Creekside Bar & Bistro on Facebook or at https://creeksidebistro.com.