Quinnie's in Hudson Dishes Up Fresh Fare & Provisions in an Old Farmhouse | Chronogram Magazine

Quinn Levine has always been a people person. She started working front of house at restaurants when she was 18 while attending theater school in New York City. From there she found a love of cooking, which led her to culinary school. Over the years, she worked at several different restaurants including the now-defunct East Village Haunt Northern Spy Food Co. and helped open Estela.

“I left Estela when I got pregnant in 2015 and my boss there at the time essentially bullied me out of my job,” Levine says. “I had to think on my feet and fast.” She decided to start a wedding planning business called Quinn and I Events, and at nine months pregnant planned her friend's wedding. She was a hit, and within a couple years she was winning awards.

When Levine and her husband Simon Burstall started a family, the city no longer felt like home. “After having kids, the city isn’t for you anymore,” she says. The pair moved upstate in 2018 in search of wide-open spaces and a more family-friendly environment. The idea for Quinnie’s has been cooking since then, a place for Levine to combine her love of hosting and good food. From the outset, Levine and Burstall envisioned Quinnie’s not just as a restaurant, but as a community space.

“My true passion was always cooking and entertaining, it is where I feel the most fulfilled and creative,” Levine says. “I had always dreamed of having a place just like Quinnie's. And COVID just forced me to just say ‘fuck it.’” She and Burstall came up with a menu and business plan and sent it to their good friend Nialls Fallon (owner of Harts Cervos and The Fly). He was in.

Wake Up

“We wanted a place where people could spend breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” says Levine. The pair found the space they were looking for in a 250-year-old farmhouse just a quick six-minute drive from the center of Hudson, but it would need some TLC. The building had been vacant for 10 years when Levine and Burstall came upon it and was in disrepair. But the couple saw the potential of the place and in July 2020 they closed on the property.

“We sort of had to wake her up and see what was going on,” says Burstall. Everything needed work, from the framing to the plumbing. Renovations began in April 2021, and the team began uncovering the history of the house. The concrete walls were covered with hundreds of years’ worth of wallpaper, all with different patterns. Andy Fennel, lead builder, discovered an archaic hex symbol carved into a door to ward off evil spirits. Other artifacts the team dug up include a tiny doll, wooden buttons, and plenty of ceramic chips. The walls contained old newspapers used for insulation.

“Houses this old are living, breathing things,” says Burstall. While renovating, he and Levine struggled with what they wanted the finished product to look like. Burstall loved the funky wallpaper patterns and wanted to keep them until he realized that shop products would get totally lost against that backdrop. Instead, they opted for keeping the concrete visible. “People are going for exposed concrete like that at cool bars in Manhattan, and we have it right here,” he says.

The guiding principle became to cherish the original look of the house while updating it. The result is a raw and repurposed aesthetic, featuring exposed beams, warm wood, and of course, a hex symbol. Quinnie’s opened its doors in November 2021.

Come Inside

When conceptualizing the menu for Quinnie’s, Levine and her co-chef Amy Hess wanted approachable food that would still push diners a little out of their comfort zones. “The average customer might not be familiar with the sauces and spices we use, but they definitely know what a meatball sandwich is,” says Hess. The Quinnie’s take on a meatball sandwich comes with chermoula and harissa instead of cheese and marinara sauce ($16).

Other favorites with a twist include a chicken salad sandwich with crispy chicken skin and bread smothered in schmaltz ($14), and an egg sandwich with parsley butter and anchovies on a milk bun ($12). A good portion of ingredients used come from local farms. The eggs are from Overlook Farms in East Chatham, and the ground beef and lamb for meatballs is from Kinderhook Farms. Quinnie’s also has a menu of locally brewed beers, wines, and ciders.

The grocery store at Quinnie’s started with goods made in house, like pimento cheese and kimchi. From there, it grew to carry local provisions from family, friends, and fellow small businesses. “Mike Squires was one of our first cheerleaders before we even opened,” says Hess. “We proudly carry his Crosscut Coffee.” Other local foods on offer include Hudson-based Poor Devil Pepper Co. hot sauce, Sweet Deliverance granola, and jam from Beth’s Farm Kitchen.

But the retail shop carries more than foodstuffs. Before opening, Levine made friends with the owner of Fahari Bazar, a clothing store in Chatham featuring handmade items for the home, linens, and clothing made by African artisans. “I contacted her and asked if we could carry her homegoods, like baskets and napkins,” says Levine. “Those have been in our store since day one.”

Bright Future Ahead

In the future, Quinnie’s plans on hosting events like flea markets, live music, and movie screenings in the large field behind the restaurant. Starting April 22, they’ll be open until 9pm for evening hangouts and bar food.

“We want Quinnie’s to be a part of people’s daily routines,” says Levine, with Burstall adding, “From the food to the atmosphere to the staff, we want it to feel like a house party."

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