Kingston is a city in flux. With major Uptown real estate changing hands over the past year, three boutique hotels in development, and Hutton Brickyards drawing visitors down to the Rondout, the times, they are are a’changing.
Along with the new boutiques that have opened up in the past few years like Hops Petunia, Rebecca Peacock, and Lovefield Vintage, a crop of fresh restaurants has sprung up and continues to proliferate. We take a look at some of the latest news on the Kingston food & bev scene.
In March, our editor Brian K. Mahoney wrote stirringly about the closing of Elephant—“Kingston’s clubhouse of culinary cool.” The dimly lit restaurant closed up shop after a 12-year run serving exquisite small plates that sparked a restaurant revolution in Uptown. (Rumor has it owner Rich Reeves isn’t throwing in the towel on the food world and is looking to open up shop in Dutchess County. Stay tuned...) Elephant’s successor, Wilde Beest opened to the curious public on Wednesday, June 13. The eatery, led by chef Chris Turgeon, bills itself as a “farm-to-fork concept restaurant focused on hyper-locality and the cultivation of intimacy with its clientele and community.” The wine list ranges all over the map, with a Lebanese Syrah rubbing elbows with Californian Grenache. It’s looking like 310 Wall Street may hold its place as gastronomic hub, with Wilde Beest championing the next wave of adventurous cooking in the Hudson Valley. Read our restaurant profile.
For the past several years, the Stockade District’s oldest house, the stunning stone Tappen House, has sat vacant. On a whim, Exit Nineteen owner John Krenek toured the historic building last October, and bells went off in his head. With his partner, Jamie Nibloch, Krenek has a successful interior design business Spruce Design + Decor, in addition to their high-end home goods emporium in Uptown Kingston. “We’ve never really ventured into the hospitality business but it’s something we always had on the back burner,” Krenek says. The stone building seemed like the perfect place to test out their wings. “A lot of our work is in the city, and we also do a lot of homes up here, but this is our first way of showing public who we are and what we do,” he says. The pair has extensively renovated the interior to create a Parisian cabaret vibe that is “dark, moody, and sexy.” The walls are painted in a sultry brown tone, called Mink, with deep red banquets, gilded accents, and leopard print window dressing. Crown will have 5 separate areas—three indoor and two outdoor, which each have their own intimate vibe and can be reserved individually for parties.
In true lounge style, Crown will have no full dishes, but a carefully curated bar menu—cheese, charcuterie, and chocolate plates; pickles; almonds; and some rotating specials. Add to that a coffee bar, a bespoke cocktail list; and locally sourced wines and beers, and you have yourself a speakeasy. The Crown debuts Friday, July 20 and will be open Mondays and Thursdays 4pm-12am; Fridays and Saturdays 4pm-2am; and Sundays 2-6pm; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
In a stroke of tragic cosmic irony, as the border between North and South Korea thawed this spring, Kingston’s own DMZ closed down. Under the deft and friendly management of Deena Rae Turner, the cozy eatery opposite the DMV had a small but devoted following. Their menu was a culinary collage of expertly executed dishes from around the world—juicy bahn mis, kick-ass shrimp pad thai, steak sopes, and patatas bravas. And of course the margaritas. But it slipped away quietly in the night, sometime back in April. An Irish goodbye that left some of us more than a bit heartbroken. The building has a new landlord, and the restaurant space has been gutted to the studs, so we expect some major change is to come. RIP, DMZ.
The corner of Wall and John Street is prime Uptown real estate. The building has a bizarre and storied past (including rumored deportations, confirmed kidnappings, and grand larceny convictions). The window-lined space most recently housed the Mexican eatery Alebrijes and, in bygone years, the Kingston Tea Garden, with its iconic Chop Suey sign. Chalk it up to misfortune or mismanagement, but none had the staying power to weather Kingston’s changing tide.
Hopefully that’s all over now. After a spring-long reno, Palizzata opened at 298 Wall Streeton July 4. The name is Italian for “stockade,” a tip of the cap to both the culinary provenance and Kingston’s historic district. Palizzata is the newest culinary venture of Eric and Joseph Cafaro, owners of Tony & Nick’s Italian Kitchen in Ellenville. With their Kingston spot, father-son duo is aiming to leave behind chicken parm and pizza in favor of authentic Northern Italian dishes, served in a white tablecloth setting.
Coffee shop-loiterers and antiquers alike will be delighted to hear that the savvy husband-and-wife duo behind Wall Street’s beloved Outdated Cafe have opened an adorable outpost to deliver caffeinated kindnesses to Midtown. The itty bitty espresso bar, which opened June 11, is installed in the front of the Lite Brite Neon building on Downs Street. A neon coffee cup heralds its presence to the neighborhood; inside the place is brimming with all the charming touches you would expect from Gabe and Tarah—primitive hutches, chicken wire glass, industrial lighting, and of course coffee.
Speaking of Midtown java joints, Village Coffee & Goods opened back in April, and we’d be remiss not to mention them. In two short months the trendy coffee bar/mini market has garnered quite the following. White walls and refinished wood floors give it a clean fresh look, and the shelves of goods offer the inviting color splash of a curated pantry. In addition to bakery items, the shop carries fresh provisions like local strawberries and potted basil plants, loaves of Jon’s Bread, oil, vinegars, honey, and coffee-making paraphernalia. Village Coffee & Goods also bills itself as working space, meaning Macbook-toting freelancer loiterers are not only tolerated but actually encouraged to perch for a while. Tables, desks, and booths line the walls of bright, little spot, so head there for some light reading or a work-from-home sesh.