It’s rare to see the successful intersection of modern, relevant fine dining and a family-friendly, neighborhood restaurant. But at the crossroads in the center of Germantown, Gaskins is proof it can be done with a refreshingly casual sophistication. Gaskins is gorgeous. The coat of deep blue paint on the outside both stands out and fits in along the streetscape. Inside the renovated historic grocery store (built in 1890), the aesthetic is light and airy with white walls, black booths, marble tabletops and plants in the windows.
There’s also an elegant bar divided off from the dining room, a huge barn-wood group table with plenty of space in the back and a sizable deck out front, enhanced by the quaint architecture of the town and the farmers’ fields beyond. There’s enough space and atmospheric latitude at Gaskins for a romantic two-top or a long table punctuated with highchairs.
The food is, of course, locally sourced and lets the quality of great ingredients shine through, but there is also a refinement of flavor and composition to every dish, tipping Gaskins' hand that it’s playing with a stacked kitchen. You can start with creamy burrata, served on house-made focaccia and dressed for late summer with eggplant caponata, basil, and olive ($18) or a cool, refreshing cucumber watermelon salad served with miso yogurt, sesame, sunflower seeds, and mint $15). Want more peak-season fruits of the summer? Order the tomatoes and peaches, served with chorizo and basil ($16).
All the small plates and mains rotate based on seasonality and whim, but a sampling of a recent menu gives you a sense that no matter when you come there will be something that will beckon, like the house-made cavatelli Italian pork sausage, summer squash, tomato, basil, and parmesan ($25), or the really classic wood-roasted half chicken with carrots, cippolini, pickled carrots, achiote, and citrus vinaigrette ($28). To accompany, there’s a knowledgeably curated wine list, with an emphasis on organic and low-intervention options, a bevy of craft beer, and even an elegant selection of amaros and after-dinner drinks.
While we’re on the topic of drink, it should be noted that the signature cocktails, inspired by classics but updated with seasonal ingredients and high-end mixers, are, in all seriousness, some of the best to be had anywhere in the region (all $13). “When we decided to open Gaskins, we didn’t want to go overly in the direction of a cocktail program, we wanted something that appeals to everyone,” Suarez says. “We always have two to three classics that people are comfortable with and a few constantly changing cocktails that I or one of the bartenders create. It’s great, it gives them the creative license to play with fruit and herbs as they come into season.”
Order a Pimm’s Cup or a Negroni for summer sipping, or the Ox Eye, a smoky, balanced mezcal margarita made with mandarin liqueur, citrus, and bitters. And, always rounding out the menu is The Germantowner, a fusion of bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters.
As any local joint should, they have some staples as well, including a stellar burger and fries served on a homemade bun with tomato, pickles, and garlic mayo ($18) and baked mac and cheese ($11) that only grows in popularity when the weather turns cold. And save room at the end for the seasonal treats like the grilled peaches and cream napoleon served with mascarpone, phyllo, honey, and pecans ($14), the frozen greek yogurt sundae with blackberries and oat crumble ($13), or the homemade blueberry basil sorbet ($7).
A decade of New York City kitchen and front-of-house experience has served Gaskins owners Nick and Sarah Suarez well. Between them they’ve worked at Diner, Marlow & Sons, Roman’s, the now-defunct Franny’s, Gramercy Tavern, and The Modern. They also operated a catering company for the last two years, Backyard Cooking Company, before setting up shop and moving into the upstairs of the big building in the middle of town.
The food and drinks menus are a reflection not only of the couple’s technical skill, but also take their inspiration from their life together. Their personal stories are in the food, like an ingredient you can’t quite place. Gaskins is simply a beautiful and delicious dining experience. Their clientele, made up of both locals, broader Hudson Valley residents, and weekenders, is fiercely faithful, and for good reason; they do all the little and big things right.
Gaskins is currently only open for outdoor dining Thursday-Sunday, 5-9pm, accepting reservations via Resy and limited walk-ins.
2 Church Avenue, Germantown, NY