Hudson Valley Restaurant Week has been an annual hit throughout the region for the last ten years.
The name may say “week,” but this year spanned from Monday, Nov. 3 to Sunday, Nov. 16.
During Restaurant Week, participating restaurants offered a three-course lunch special for $20.95 and a three-course dinner special for $29.95.
Over 200 restaurants participated throughout the Hudson Valley. Restaurants such as The Village Tearoom, The Huguenot and A Tavola are amongst those who represented New Paltz in the event.
In the Hudson Valley, it is asked that restaurants that participate use primarily local ingredients, Agnes Devereux, owner of The Village Tearoom, said. This fall marks the ninth year the restaurant is participating.
“That’s really important for the Hudson Valley because that’s what we’re all about,” she said. “When you go out to eat, why shouldn’t you be eating something really amazing from this region when there’s so much of it?”
Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is the only kind in the country that places an emphasis on local food. It started in New York City over thirty years ago to promote business and restaurants during a slow period.
This year’s Restaurant Week had a theme of apples.
Devereux said the popular favorites of her customers during Restaurant Week were split between the pan-roasted salmon and the pork shoulder. Following the theme of locally-made food, the pork shoulder is from North Wind Farm, which is located in Tivoli, New York. It is a slow-roasted served with local apples, apple cider and a braised red cabbage that is cooked with apples, brown butter and juniper berries. The salmon is on a bed of local butternut squash that is cubed and roasted, with butter, onion, sage and graze. It is then topped with a garlic lemon butter, Devereux said.
She said the restaurant likes to put some of their favorites from the menu that people like, as well as some new things for Restaurant Week. This year they brought back the pork because it was really popular from the fall last year.
“We usually have one new thing and we developed a new dessert because of this year’s theme,” she said. “Whether it’s apples themselves, apple cider, hard cider, apple brandy, apples are really synonymous with the Hudson Valley. We made a boozy double apple cake. It’s a rich cake that’s made with both fresh apples and dried apples. And then we made a brown sugar Bourbon sauce to go with it.”
The Village Tearoom participates because it is in line with their values the rest of the year, Devereax said.
“I think it’s often hard for people to think or believe that you can cook local food in November,” she said. “When people think of the Hudson Valley, they’re thinking really of the summer and the early fall. There are actually so many things that you can put on your menu that are local. You can make an amazing dish using all local ingredients and they’re easier and easier to find. I think it lets people know that all year round, there’s amazing things in the Hudson Valley.”
Nathan Snow, co-owner of both A Tavola and The Huguenot, said he always used Restaurant Week as a way to build the business at A Tavola. He uses the same method at The Huguenot, a farm-to-table restaurant which opened its doors for business in February 2014.
Because of A Tavola’s success, The Huguenot had a built-in following, Snow said. During Restaurant Week, both attracted a lot of people who came for the first time. Snow said he always wants to make the experience “awesome for people, because then they’ll come back to eat.”
Going along with the theme of eating local, A Tavola dug into community sources as much as possible since their doors opened, Snow said. The Huguenot is a restaurant which is partnered with Karl Family Farms located in Modena, New York. Their chicken pot pie was a best-seller throughout the week at The Huguenot.
“It’s 100 percent [Karl Family Farms] chickens. It’s their carrots that are in it, it’s their pretty much everything, which is a really fun thing. Now that it’s getting cold, it’s a nice thing to eat while it’s freezing cold outside,” Snow said. “The whole concept of the restaurant is that it’s things that people can not necessarily do themselves, but it’s things that they can get themselves and make things.”
This year’s favorites at A Tavola were the mac n’ truffle (taleggio, fontina, black truffle and toasted breadcrumb) and the pappardelle bolognese (pasta braised in the restaurant’s traditional meat sauce braised for seven hours), Snow said.
He said he had fun being creative with Restaurant Week menus for both of his restaurants. However, he did not want to add pasta at all on The Huguenot’s menu because pasta is a trademark of A Tavola.
“When you have two restaurants that are literally almost next door to each other, you really have to have two separate identities at each,” he said. “Pasta is such a blank canvas that it’s easy to write Restaurant Week menus for. I’m used to Restaurant Week at A Tavola and having pastas. At The Huguenot, it’s literally writing a menu of eight different things without having the benefit of pasta to be your canvas. That was tricky, but I think we did a pretty good job.”
Both The Huguenot and A Tavola participated for dinner and both offered three appetizers, three entrees, and two desserts on their Restaurant Week menu. The Village Tearoom participated in both lunch and dinner.
Residents of New Paltz and the Hudson Valley enjoy Restaurant Week as it gives them a chance to explore new dining options.
“It gives me the opportunity to go places locally that I otherwise wouldn’t,” Town Councilman Daniel Torres said.
If you missed out on Restaurant Week this Fall, not to worry. The Hudson Valley will be having another one in the spring.