There’s an exciting new culinary enterprise underway in an old structure in Woodstock: the Millstream Tavern, which opened on April 1 in the 18th-century millhouse, most recently operated as Provisions, at the Woodstock Golf Club. A major renovation, modernizing the building’s systems while preserving its historic appeal, has been completed, and the doors are now open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday.
“The new owners took over in mid-December,” explains chef/sommelier Ryan Tate as he leads a tour of the spruced-up facility. “They did a very aggressive two-and-a-half-month turnaround.”
Those new owners are the Shale Hill Hospitality Group, a partnership between New York City restaurateur Jenny Oz LeRoy – daughter of the late Mervyn LeRoy, legendary owner of Tavern on the Green, Maxwell’s Plum, and the Russian Tea Room – and the Brooklyn expat couple who have been shaking things up in Saugerties foodie circles in recent years, Dallas and Ted Gilpin. Ted still commutes to his Wall Street job, but Dallas left Goldman Sachs in 2004 after the birth of her first daughter.
The Gilpins’ full-time move upstate commenced with their purchase of Shale Hill Farm, former home of the late Pat Reppert and birthplace of the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival. Since then, they have taken over the Prohibition-era Dutch Ale House on Main Street in Saugerties and launched Windmill Wine & Spirits on Partition Street and the Farm Kitchen on Main Street, as well as Shale Hill Farm Catering.
Along the way they managed to sweep up Ryan Tate, who had collaborated with event specialist Jenny Oz LeRoy on “plenty of weddings,” in his words, and was between jobs after losing his position as executive chef at the Deer Mountain Inn in Tannersville due to COVID. “I lost my mother at the same time and was not ready to jump back into cooking,” he reports. He briefly brought his oenophilic expertise to the fore with a curation gig at a wine store before being enticed back into a chef’s hat at the Dutch. He helped the Gilpins get the Farm Kitchen up and running last summer; now he’s the food and beverage director for both the Dutch and the Millstream.
“I’m the grandson of a butcher and a gentleman farmer,” says the Michigan native. “That’s probably where my love of eating came from.” An adherent of Modern American cuisine, while “mostly steeped in French cooking,” Tate worked at RM, a sustainable seafood restaurant, from 2003 to 2004. He opened Lure in SoHo as a sous chef in 2004 and became sous chef at Cookshop in Chelsea in 2006. Promotions to chef de cuisine at Savoy in SoHo and chef/partner at Le Restaurant led to his being awarded a two-star review from The New York Times and a coveted Michelin star. His migration upstate commenced when he became co-chef and partner at the Crimson Sparrow in Hudson before he landed at the Deer Mountain Inn.
With his square build, long sandy hair parted on one side and a slightly world-weary air, Tate evokes the French actor Gérard Depardieu in his younger days. But he grows more animated as he shows off the Millstream’s fully rebuilt kitchen with its steam-injected convection oven, the dedicated wine station where he will introduce diners to organic wines from small growers, the brand-new HVAC system featuring splits that make the entire building more environmentally sustainable, the tavern room with its warm wood paneling and copper-topped bar. French doors have been installed between the patio and the sunroom, supplying a brighter, more open atmosphere.
The cozy clubroom, the historic core of the millhouse, has had its walls freshly painted and its massive wooden beams refinished, but it still exudes what Tate calls a “classic clubby feel.” An antique split Dutch door opens onto a roofed bluestone patio; leather-upholstered booths beckon invitingly. Classic paintings of the golf course by Saturday Evening Post illustrator Anton Otto Fischer once again adorn the walls. A massive fieldstone fireplace is slated for a new flue lining in time to have fires lit again by next winter. “I want to provide a place that resonates with dining history,” Tate says.
That retro country-club vibe, that “everything old is new again sensibility,” is reflected in the menu as well. Tate’s signature dishes tend to be simple classics, such as Cobb salad, taken to new heights by his insistence on using ingredients at peak seasonal ripeness and freshness, locally grown to the greatest extent available. “Consistency – that’s the bottom line,” he says.
The Millstream Tavern is located near the entrance to the Woodstock Golf Club at 114 Mill Hill Road. It’s open on Wednesday from noon to 8 p.m., Thursday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. This Sunday, May 30 from 2 to 5 p.m., it will host a Start to Summer Party pairing Maine lobster rolls with Wollfer Estate’s limited-release Summer Rosé. To view the menu and learn more, visit www.millstreamtavern.com or www.facebook.com/millstreamtavern.