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Bounty of the Valley 

New Restaurant Roundup

click to enlarge Above the bar at Buns-n-Bourbon in Peekskill. - CHRISTINE ASHBURN
  • Christine Ashburn
  • Above the bar at Buns-n-Bourbon in Peekskill.

The fact that the Hudson Valley is a restaurant Mecca is no longer news. But as the scene matures, some wonderful trends are emerging, trends we love: the mixing of global influences and local ingredients, of historic architecture and new flavor; the ample choices, whether you want to dine after a muddy hike or take proper Aunt Edna out and impress her all to pieces; the tendency of polished, metro-sharpened chefs to choose the region as the backdrop for their wildest dreams; the sophisticated offerings for vegans and vegetarians; and plenty of exposed brick, some of it at a former brick factory (see Sidebar).

GB Eats

When Great Barrington's Main Street got a new look last year, chef/owner Pierre Cum decided to refresh his neighborhood diner into GB Eats, updating the interior with light natural wood, local art, and an expanse of plate glass overlooking the Berkshire Hills. Locals have been loving the look and the refreshed menu. Essential components of a great diner—fine coffee, pancakes until midafternoon—are not abandoned but expanded upon: you can get the house blend as espresso or nitro-brewed and iced, and housemade blueberry compote on those pancakes ($7.50). For dinner, try a classic steak burger ($11) or a Berkshire Melt: mozarella, avocado and tomato on local Berkshire sourdough with a basil pesto ($10).

282 Main St, Great Barrington, MA. (413) 528-8226.

Ziatun

click to enlarge Chicken Kebab and Futur from Ziatun in Beacon - CHRISTINE ASHBURN
  • Christine Ashburn
  • Chicken Kebab and Futur from Ziatun in Beacon

From the creative mind of the culinary virtuoso behind Angelina's Pizza and Brew in Cold Spring, the Tito Santana Taqueria and the Beacon Bread Company, comes Ziatun, combining Kamel Jamal's trademarks—friendly, intelligent service, hands-on kitchen management and plenty of healthy choices—with the savory dishes of his Middle Eastern heritage. People rave about the futur (served with warm pita, considered a breakfast dish but available all day), scratch-made falafel and hummus, and other Palestinian and Jordanian specialties. Reviewers have been known to wish Manhattan had food like this, but Jamal keeps locals in mind with the welcome and the reasonable prices—you can grab a falafel wrap or a beef and lamb shawarma sandwich for under $10.

244 Main Street, Beacon. (845) 765-8268;Ziatun.com.

Grano Focaccetia

Family-friendly, sparkling clean and warm, Grano Focaccetia's prices are pretty much what you'd expect in a pizza place; you can get a margherita slice for $2.50 and a calzone for $6. But that's where the similarity ends: Grano Focaccetia's winning friends and fans among people who previously believed that genuine Italian was only to be found in Little Italy. Artisanal thin crust piesa, mouthwatering meatballs, baked pasta and calzones made with smoked mozzarella are all winning raves, as does the kale salad. Wash it all down with a soft drink, a latte or a glass of wine or beer, and save room for some Jane's Ice Cream.

3182 Route 9, Cold Spring. (845) 666-7007;Granofocacceria.com.

Commissary

New Paltz and surrounding folks have long embraced Lagusta's Luscious as a foodie brand. The name, she says, makes post office clerks think she makes exotic erotica; in fact, she makes sensual feasts for the tongue: fine handcrafted chocolates, veggie meals and, since 2011, her own line of truffles. This year she has opened Lagusta's Luscious Commissary, a coffee shop where she celebrates her adoration of "deep flavor, ethical sourcing, farmers, the food poor people around the world have always eaten, lactic acid fermentation, and noodles." Expect to find cheese plates, pickle plates, vegan deviled eggs and creative uses of whatever is freshest, along with slammin' tea and dessert, all of it organic, fair trade, vegan, reasonably priced and lovingly crafted.

11 Church Street, New Paltz.Facebook.com/LLCommissary.

Liberty Street Bistro

click to enlarge Michael Kelly in the kitchen at Liberty Street Bistro in Newburgh - CHRISTINE ASHBURN
  • Christine Ashburn
  • Michael Kelly in the kitchen at Liberty Street Bistro in Newburgh

Michael Kelly fell in love with food in between bussing tables in nice places in his hometown of Cornwall and polished his craft at the CIA, graduating with honors and enjoying a stellar career in Manhattan. Having helped open Markus Glocker's Batard, which won the coveted James Beard Best New Restaurant Award in 2015, he headed back upriver; Manhattan's loss is Newburgh's gain, in the form of the approachably delicious Liberty Street Bistro. Exposed brick and a floor-to-ceiling front window overlooking Washington's Headquarters complement an exceptional prix fixe menu—suit your appetite and wallet with two, three or four courses ($36-$61) featuring delicacies like duck confit salad, steamed mussels and pan-seared octopus.

97 Liberty Street, Newburgh. (845) 562-3900; Libertystreetbistro.com.

Buns-n-Bourbon

click to enlarge Buns-n-Bourbon in Peekskill. - CHRISTINE ASHBURN
  • Christine Ashburn
  • Buns-n-Bourbon in Peekskill.

Peekskill is welcoming the irrepressible Buns-n-Bourbon, a party-hearty alter ego to the kid-friendly Taco Dive Bar in the same building. The focus here is on fine brown spirits and good party-nosh, like burgers, dogs and fried sandwiches priced from $6 to $9 and several kinds of fries to choose from. But this party-nosh has an updated, locavore feel—you'll find Amish or grass fed beef, goat cheese, green papaya cabbage slaw, and veggie-bun food like a chargrilled portabella with Havarti and basil-truffle mayo. Perfect place to relish heart-pumping rock played a little bit loud, crazy movies on the big flat screen, a few adventurous shots and an evening's laughter.

55 Hudson Avenue, Peekskill. (914) 788-2867; Bunsnbourbon.com.

Plantae

click to enlarge Joy Risk at Plantae in Tivoli with a plate of macaroons. - CHRISTINE ASHBURN
  • Christine Ashburn
  • Joy Risk at Plantae in Tivoli with a plate of macaroons.

Vegetarians and vegans are flocking from near and far to experience the tacos, curry bowls and other top-notch delights at Plantae, where healthy, ethical fare is the raison d'etre rather than an afterthought. Plantae is a cozy charmer, with outdoor and upstairs mezzanine seating and free Wi-Fi; bring your own alcohol if you'd like. Brazilian-born head chef Raquel Osorio has come here after stints in the East Village and in Red Hook to enhance the magical sweetness that is Tivoli with a world class "masterpiece for the masses," serving dishes such as arugula fruit salad ($15), an "Avo BLT" that pairs avocado with sweet barbecue tempeh bacon ($13) and hearty bean chili topped with your choice of cashew crème or avocado and served with organic corn chips (cup, $6; bowl, $8).

55 Broadway, Tivoli. (845) 757-2200; Facebook.com/plantaeTivoli.

Garvan's

Sometimes things really do work out for the best. Visitors to Shea O'Brien's on Main Street in New Paltz were much enamored of the hospitality of manager Garvan McCloskey. When that restaurant closed in 2015, people missed Garvan terribly. Meanwhile, the owners of the Rock n' Rye, an historic 1759 building at the end of Huguenot Street on the bucolic grounds of the New Paltz Golf Course, wanted an heir fit for an exceptional business. The combined dilemmas gave birth to Garvan's, a gastropub and dining room where you can feast on surf-n-turf ($29) or a jumbo shrimp scampi ($24) while your vegetarian pal savors a Vegetable Napoleon ($19). Garvan's is warm and artful, the kind of place that's perfect for a special date night or celebration or a gastropub lunch in the middle of a stressful week.

215 Huguenot Street, New Paltz, (845) 255-7888; Garvans.com.

Essie's

click to enlarge Brandon Walker at Essie's in Poughkeepsie. - CHRISTINE ASHBURN
  • Christine Ashburn
  • Brandon Walker at Essie's in Poughkeepsie.

Chef-owner Brandon Walker first came up from the city to study at the Culinary Institute, falling in love with both the mid-Hudson and his future wife. After graduation, he worked his share of 3-star Manhattan joints and did some culinary globetrotting, always dreaming of the ideal Hudson Valley restaurant to call his own. He found it in Poughkeepsie's historic Little Italy, and Essie's (named for his grandmother) was born, with industrial-chic decor and a casually elegant ambience. Walker's CIA education, global journey, and sense of fun all inform his locally sourced New American comfort cuisine: expect to taste echoes of Caribbean, Asia, Classic French, and Mediterranean Spanish in snacks (country ham Cheddar corn muffins, $7), small plates. and entrees such as chicken and dumpling ($21) and cavatelli ($19).

14 Mt. Carmel Place, Poughkeepsie; (845) 452-7181; Essiesrestaurantpk.com.

Butterfield

Reinventing the former Inn at Stone Ridge was a tall order. How do you preserve the absolute best of a 250-year-old gem while updating it to sleek perfection? Leave it to Brooklyn-based Gowanus Hospitality Group. Designer Akiva Reich was equal to the challenge, adding a ton of windows for a sunshiny, airy feel and bringing in Chef Shawn Burnette to run Butterfield. The very name hearkens back to a colonial colloquialism about the excellence of the surrounding land; Burnette's stated goal is to source everything from within a 20-mile radius. Come get in on the flavor with housemade lamb sausage ($14) served with herb and almond puree or bone-in ribeye for two (market price). In case you're tired after your meal, the property house a 20-room boutique hotel.

3805 Main Street, Stone Ridge, (845) 687-0736; Hasbrouckhouseny.com.

Bartlett House

Somewhat off the beaten path in Ghent, northeast of Hudson, you'll find a new and not-to-be-missed culinary experience at the Bartlett House, a blend of historic preservation, locavore consciousness, sustainable ethos, and just plain good food. A national historic site on Route 66, the Bartlett has been fitted out with a state-of-the-art kitchen and bakery featuring ethically sourced coffee, an approachable menu featuring locally sourced goodies and delectable baked goods, and a shop where you can purchase eclectic housewares and specialty foods to take home.

Try the breakfast sandwich (fried farm egg, fontina cheese, choice of bacon, house sausage or vegetables, $8), house cured salmon, horseradish creme fraiche, cucumber,  radish, dill, scallion on multigrain, ($12), or Bartlett house burger (cheese melt, pickle, aioli, fries, $14).

2258 Route 66, Ghent. (518) 392-7787; Bartletthouse.com .

Ms. Fairfax

click to enlarge The patio at Ms. Fairfax in Newburgh - CHRISTINE ASHBURN
  • Christine Ashburn
  • The patio at Ms. Fairfax in Newburgh

Another outstanding addition to the memorable and insanely delicious dining scene developing down on Liberty Street, Ms. Fairfax is artsy-casual and makes use of fresh, local goodies to create a simple but eclectic menu of "fowl, smoked meats and fine cheeses," that nods to the cuisines of Italy, France, Morocco, England, Vietnam, and the US. Try the Backyard Turkey Sandwich: home-smoked turkey, herbed aioli, cranberry compote and arugula, sending your taste buds to a whole new level of Thanksgiving for just $13. Dine outdoors, or sip one of the 10 beers on tap over a game of chess; the backyard patio often hosts special events during Newburgh's Last Saturdays or just because.

105 Liberty Street, Newburgh, (845) 565-0169; Facebook.com/msfairfax.

Peace Nation Cafe, Pakt, Kovo, and Redwood

Last year at this time, we noted the culinary revitalization that was taking place in Woodstock. This year, the burg that bursting with new restaurants is Kingston. Adding to an already robust Uptown eating scene are two eateries, Kovo Rotisserie and Redwood. Maria Philippis, owner of the chic bistro Boitson's, has tapped into her Hellenic heritage with Kovo Rotisserie, a causal Greek-inspired joint. The menu is a build-your-own rotisserie pita sandwich or salad bowl ($11-$14.50) that straddles the line between health and hedonism. And don't forget to order a side of zucchini fritters with tzatziki ($7). Redwood takes over where the short-lived Frogmore Tavern left off. The rooftop deck is still an amazing place to spend an evening under the stars, and the new owners Kelly Jenkins Polston and Scott Polston bring their California roots to dishes like Murray's chicken breast, smoky honey lavender jus, duck fat purple potatoes, and sautéed summer greens served in a skillet ($24) and Sonoma salad of field greens, pistachio praline, roasted cherries, Manchego cheese, tossed in a Fumet Blanc vinaigrette ($12).

In what are hopeful signs of a Midtown culinary renaissance (already begun a few years ago by The Anchor,) Peace Nation Café and Pakt have opened near UPAC on Broadway. Pakt is a Southern-inspired breakfast and lunch spot that is definitely not for the health conscious. Biscuit and gravy (sage sausage patty with two scrambled eggs Floretine-style, $11), chicken fried steak and eggs ($10), and chicken n waffle ($10) are deliciously heavy. Down the block, Peace Nation Café is a homey (mostly) vegetarian cafe serving fresh pastries (try the guava rolls), and traditional Guatemalan dishes with a healthy twist, like Guatemalan "chuchitos"—mini corn tamales steamed with chicken and topped with queso seco.

Kovo Rotisserie: 43 North Front Street, Kingston. (845) 338-KOVO; kovorotisserie.com.

Pakt: 608 Broadway, Kingston. (845) 331-2400; Pakttogo.com.

Peace Nation Cafe: 636 Broadway, Kingston. (845) 514-2561; Facebook.com/peacenationcafe.

Redwood: 63 North Front Street, Kingston. (845) 259-5868; Redwooduptown.com

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