Hudson Valley Restaurant Week kicks off March 11, but don’t let the event’s name throw you. Folks will have two weeks to feast on dishes from some of the area’s finest restaurants – nearly 200 in all – offering three-course prix-fixe gourmet dinners for $32.95 per person. Many will also offer three-course prix-fixe lunches for $22.95.
More than two dozen of those eateries are located right here in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties. All told, restaurants from eight Hudson Valley counties will participate in the March 11-24 event.
One of the main reasons restaurants participate in this event is the opportunity to boost their name recognition across the region and the state. For customers, it’s an opportunity to try a new dining establishment or revisit a favorite to enjoy specialty dishes at a discounted price.
In keeping with the event’s farm-to-table theme, the majority of participating chefs and restaurateurs are using locally sourced ingredients in support of local farms, winemakers, distillers and artisanal producers.
Among the participants spotlighting locally sourced foods is Goshen’s Limoncello at Orange Inn. “It’s nice to support local businesses – people who work so hard,” said Carly Glasse, Limoncello’s manager. “Initially, the idea was that you’re bringing in new customers and more exposure for the restaurant, but it’s also interesting to be able to work with local people and products.”
Much of Limoncello’s Restaurant Week fare features ingredients prepared by longtime Chef Edison Markaj from Madura Farms (Pine Island), Bialis Farms (New Hampton), Pine Hill Farm (Chester), Halfway Acres (Campbell Hall) and 5 Spoke Creamery, J. Glebocki Farms and Banbury Cross Farms (all based in Goshen).
Why Restaurant Week?
“By far, it’s the best time to try the food,” said Glasse. “It’s a good price point, and you get a really good taste of the menu. And in theory, you hope you’re getting lots of new customers that aren’t normally in.”
Restaurant Week participant The Jolly Onion in Pine Island – a recently reopened staple in the heart of the Black Dirt Region – offers authentic central European cuisine as well as bounty from New York farms, said Chef Armand Vanderstigchel, also a co-owner and partner.
“It’s a great platform to promote local restaurants, farms and artisans – being a part of a network of something bigger,” he said. “We really tailor our menu to Restaurant Week, using local ingredients and making it interesting to people.”
The Jolly Onion’s menu features recipes from Germany, Austria, Holland, Poland, Scandinavia and more. “We have people of that heritage around here, and the community response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Vanderstigchel.
What’s on the menu?
At The Jolly Onion, among the Restaurant Week offerings are Amsterdam Authentic Bitterballen – Dutch mini croquettes “first and exclusive outside New York City,” the chef said, along with specially prepared central European-style breaded pork loin, Angus sirloin steak, smoked sausage, wild mushroom soup, couscous with kale and leeks and a host of culinary treasures too numerous to mention here.
Locally brewed beers are on tap, as well as Black Dirt Bourbon and other beverages that complement the central European cuisine.
The mission of Restaurant Week is to do “something unique and local,” Vanderstigchel said. “No inferior ingredients, no shortcuts … you have to know how to cook it.”
Authentic cooking was instilled in Vanderstigchel early on. “I grew up in the Netherlands; my mother and grandmother were very good cooks. Everything is made from scratch. You know what standards to hold the cooking to; you know how it should taste.”
Keeping it local
In Highland, the Would Restaurant will feature locally sourced foods, but that’s nothing new. “We did farm-to-table for years, before anyone really knew what it was,” said Debra L. Dooley, co-owner. “That’s what great cooking is all about – using an excellent product.” Hepworth Farms in Milton is one of the local businesses that provides products to The Would.
Its Restaurant Week menu will be prepared by Fred Korjann, chef de cuisine for 20 years. “We take a lot of pride in our food and products,” said Dooley. “We have linens on the tables, candlelight, fresh flowers, the fireplace going … It’s casual elegance and fine dining, but you can also enjoy casual foods and sit at the bar.”
Always something new
Even if you’ve attended Hudson Valley Restaurant Week in the past, don’t think you’ve “been there, done that.” Chefs and restaurateurs make sure to offer something new each year.
Plus, there are 15 new participating eateries this spring. Beacon-based foodie magazine “The Valley Table” produces the event, which is held for two weeks twice yearly, in the spring and fall.
Reservations are strongly encouraged – and required by some restaurants. No passes, tickets or coupons are required.
For a full list of participating restaurants and menus, go to valleytable.com/hvrw, where you can search by meal, county, town, cuisine or features such as family friendly, fireside dining, Zagat rated, vegetarian friendly and even Open Mondays.