The current owners have run the place for 6 years and offer 6 “seasons” of menu to span the year. We were there for the ‘Stream’ season which features the many trout in the area. We were fortunate to get the same wonderful server both nights and he really made the meal enjoyable. Knowledge and friendliness are important in a great server and Giovanni Costantino has plenty of both. The tasting is offered at 6:30 and 8:00 pm so it moves at a fairly rapid pace. However, we had the later time and were there past 10, so the early seating moves more quickly. Portions are well-modulated. The beautiful landscape outside made a perfect backdrop for a meal of fish, that I didn’t have to catch or clean. I imagine the other seasonal tastings are well-crafted too. I recommend this place. Continue reading
When you stay at the DeBruce breakfast is included the next morning. The sun-filled dining room opened at 9:00am and the menu changed slightly the 2 days we were there. We tried some of the same things and new items the second day. The menu says you are allowed to pick two items per person but I did hear some people customizing there order. This may have worked as the place was not full or maybe they are flexible. It never hurts to ask. Also included was coffee, tea, orange juice and apple juice. The service was not nearly as good in the morning as in the evening. For example, I asked for a coffee refill and the server complied but never offered my husband any. The service was also slower and that was probably due to fewer people working in the kitchen. The food was more mixed at breakfast and it sometimes made me wish they offered a simple omelet. But all that said, it satisfied and readied me for the day ahead. Continue reading
The DeBruce Lodge and Restaurant, built in the 1880s, sits on a ledge overlooking the Willowemoc Vally and river in Catskill Park. There are 12 rooms whose stay includes dinner and breakfast, as well as access to many fishing spots. On Friday the menu is ‘a la carte’ and Saturday is the tasting menu (which will be in a later write-up). They sometimes offer a Carte Blanche menu for Fridays but it was not available the time we were there. Some reservations are taken for diners not staying in the lodge, but reservations are recommended. Downstairs is a club room if you desire additional drinks but upstairs, or the main floor, has the small glass-walled dining rooms that has around 8 tables. A larger table is in the Great Room for bigger groups. Music is in the background with wood walls and wooden benches lining the perimeter of the room. The seats are padded and pelts and horns provide the decorations. Skylights provide additional lighting to the votives on the tables and natural light coming in the 2 walls of windows. Once the sun goes down the room did get much darker. A large opening goes to the kitchen which is kept amazingly dark, which is nice for diners but more challenging for the chefs. Eric Leveillee is the Executive Chef but he spends most of his time in Philadelphia and Chef de Cuisine Robert West runs the kitchen here. It is a lovely spot and if you like fly fishing, pack your bags now. If you’re not a fisherman you can still enjoy this place’s wonderful hiking and food. We enjoyed both types of menus and they are quite different, so stay 2 nights if you can.
For dinner we were told we could order whatever we wanted off the menu. We wanted to try a lot and were willing to share all. The server was most helpful in crafting our meal. Our Sourdough was their bread topped with peas, fiddleheads and ricotta. The thick slice of bread was heavily spread with their housemade ricotta and then decorated with fresh fiddlehead ferns and English peas. It was delicious and a delight to have the ultra-fresh vegetables.
Roasted carrots were mixed with coffee, maple and pistachio. These might have been my husband’s favorite plate of the evening. The beautiful fresh carrots were perfectly cooked and seasoned with the nuts adding a bit more texture to the dish. They were great.
Chilled mussels were mixed with white beans and topped with housemade potato chips. It was described as chilled but it still jolted me to have the cold mussels but they were fun and tasty. The chips gave the texture some crunch and a bit of salt which the beans needed. There was also some briny liquid mixed with the beans underneath. Some of the beans could have been cooked a tad more but better this than turned to mush. The large mussels were great.
Ricotta dumplings were mixed with wild mushrooms and parmesan. The large pasta wrappers were stuffed with the tasty ricotta and then blended with tons of mushrooms and topped with lots of grated cheese and a bit of cream. They were rich, heavy and wonderful.
Mangalitsa pork chop au poivre was served sliced and de-boned on a fabulous sauce. The large fat cap on the meat gave it extra richness and a wonderful depth of flavor. It was slightly chewy, but this one you didn’t mind working on, especially the delectable bone meat.
Beaverkill trout was topped with fiddleheads and smoked roe. It was a boneless fillet but the head and tail were on the plate for a faux whole-fish effect. The cooking and flavor were excellent and the roe made a nice accent seasoning.
Rice pudding was with almond and sea buckthorn. The thick round of rice was underneath a layer of cream and sitting in the sea buckthorn sauce. It was light and yet full of flavor. I love rice pudding and this was a interesting rendition.
Chocolate mousse with raspberry sorbet was topped with lime shortbread. A final drizzle of cream finished off the dish. The cookie was buttery and short and the dish had lots of textures. Some herbs were mixed in and sprinkled on the top to add another layer of flavor. It looked goopy but it was nice.
The Smoke Joint moved to the Catskills from downtown Brooklyn. The chef/owners Ben Grossman and Craig Samuel have won accolades for their culinary ventures. The tiny place is on the banks of the Willowemoc River and they are open from spring to fall. Here they offer a variety of sandwiches, barbecue by the pound, fried chicken, hot dogs, a variety of sides and beverages (full liquor license). They have a few tables inside but most of the dining was on the picnic tables right out the door. The tables were set with napkins, flatware and hot and regular sauces. You order and pay at the counter and then your food is brought out to you. There were cans to dispose of your trash when you are through. The people working there were pleasant and helpful and judging by the crowd we decided it was the place to grab a snack. I’m no expert on barbecue as is John Tanner who publishes a restaurant blog you’d enjoy, johntannersbbqblog.com but I think he’d appreciate the flavor of the brisket. Check out John’s blog for not only barbecue but also Washington DC, the eastern USA coast and lots of other places. You’ll enjoy his wit and writing style and add to your list of places to go and eat.