“Some people flip houses, I flip restaurants,” says chef Wes Dier, who owns of Hudson eatery Warren & Vine with his wife Bryn Bahnatka-Dier. “Not purposefully, but it ended up being something that I do. Whenever I become bored or the market becomes stale, we sell them and I reinvent myself with another concept.”
The CIA-trained chef has owned several Rhinebeck restaurants over the past 22 years, most notably The Local, which enjoyed a decade-long tenure that ended in a stint as fish shack Catch 38. Warren & Vine is the first restaurant in Hudson for Dier, who was born in the riverfront city. ”We wanted a change of pace,” he says. “Some of the best work that I had been doing at the Local was falling on deaf ears. We wanted to have a little bit more of a sophisticated clientele and just a different vista.”
When Warren & Vine opened in March 2021, the Diers’ friend and “Sugar Rush'' contestant pastry chef Ali Albini was turning out sweet treats that lined the bakery counter in the front of the space. But a renovation this past January turned the pastry case into a bar, reflecting a refinement of focus for the establishment. “We still have a pastry selection and dessert selections, but it was a bit of a distraction from what our real identity was with the wine and the savory aspects,” says Dier. “Now we’re able to have additional seating but also additional revenue. You have a couple customers seated there having glasses of wine and more of the savory items, which is more beneficial to us than selling a $6 cupcake.” Ever the businessman, Dier is constantly assessing the financial performance of his restaurants as well as the customer experience and the integrity of the concept.
Following the bar reno, Warren & Vine is hitting its stride as what Dier calls a “daytime wine bar,” with a robust wine by the glass selection, curated by Bahnatka-Dier, and a selection of small plates. The hours of operation, 12 to7pm Thursday through Saturday, are a reflection of the Diers’ quality-of-life goals after decades in the grueling restaurant industry. “The vibe and the experience is very European in nature,” Dier says. “You have the front courtyard with a view of the [First Presbyterian] church. It’s a very straightforward, delicious menu. People can have a proper lunch or just graze and sip one of our many wines.”
The current wine selection, handwritten in marker on a roll of craft paper that hangs from the wall, offers over a dozen sparkling, red, and white wines by the glass, in the $10 to $15 range. But don’t go looking for pet nats and orange wines here. “We are not millennials,” Dier says, adding, “There are other places that do that in Hudson.” There’s also a rotating selection of reserve wine picks that come in one-, three-, and five-ounce pours and range from a 2012 Opus One red blend ($90 for a five-ounce pour!) to a 2019 Chateneuf du Pape ($20 for a five-ounce pour).
The Warren & Vine food menu changes every quarter, with a true north of accessible, well-made food that allows Dier to play around. “This menu especially is very dialed in, we’ve covered a lot of the bases,” he says. “Things can be either soul-satisfying or playful and whimsical. We approach it by the dish itself and then I see how I can put my twist on it, my flavor profile. Things are approachable to an average diner’s vernacular but then they will still have a wow factor to it. We don't want to be that far out there that you need a culinary background or a dictionary to decipher the menu.”
Dier points to the beet salad, which is common on Hudson Valley menus, especially at this time of year. At Warren and Vine, he uses three kinds of beets, each with a different treatment. “People will say, ‘Oh, I’ve had a beet salad before, it usually comes with a cheese or a nut or some sort of citrus,’” he says. “We take that and we just really run with it. Red beets, golden beets, shaved candy striped beets. We pickle the carrots and use cara cara oranges as opposed to regular navels. The goat cheese is hickory smoked.”
For the “smokin cobb salad,” Dier swaps the standard chicken for trout, and running with the smoked theme, adds smoked blue cheese, and Benton’s bacon. Aside from salads, the winter menu includes apps like stuffed Turkish apricots, which are served with Shropshire blue cheese and Calabrian chili maple, and air-dried beef carpaccio, served with baby arugula, Boursin cheese, and parmesan frico.
There are charcuterie boards, farmstead cheese platters, and, if you’re in the mood for something heftier, sandwiches. The open-faced Hudson BLT is a standout with jowl bacon, blistered heirloom cherry tomatoes, charred leeks, and Kewpie mayo. “It’s fun and exciting—all the little bites that I would love to eat at a restaurant,” Dier says. “It’s a great way to eat, to mix and match little dishes.”
A recent five-course, prix-fixe Valentine’s Day dinner allowed Dier to flex some of his creative muscles and warm back up before launching into Friday and Saturday night dinners this spring. The sold-out event bodes well for this next phase of Warren & Vine. “It’s not that the small plates are not exciting, there’s just so much more that I'm capable of,” Dier says. “Especially when we feel that there is a desire for what I used to do at the Local.”
Located in a historic, two-story red-brick building that served at times as a jail, City Hall, newspaper offices for the Register Star, and most recently Little Apple cafe, and right next door to Hudson Home, Warren & Vine is in the heart of Hudson. Out front, it boasts a gorgeous, gated courtyard, shaded by a large oak tree, which will be a charming place for summer afternoons and evenings, where it can seat up to eight parties. Inside, the restaurant has a cozy 26-seat capacity. “Small and manageable,” Dier says. The back room is outfitted with lower coffee tables and different lighting to give it a lounge-like vibe.
“We love the sophistication of the shops and the architecture of Hudson,” Dier says. “When we found this, it was already a cafe, we didn't have to change anything for zoning. We just really lucked out. The space is absolutely beautiful.”
On Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26, Warren & Vine will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a light dinner service event dubbed Burgers and Bubbles.