While the closing of The Village TeaRoom left a hole in our hearts last spring, Runa Bistro might just close that gap with enough fluffy crepes and savory quiches to soak up the tea(rs).
Runa Restaurant and Bistro, located on 10 Plattekill Ave. in New Paltz, had a soft opening on Sept. 27, and is owned by Clare Hussain.
Hussain is more than qualified to own a restaurant, as her extensive food industry background speaks for itself. She studied hospitality management in Dublin, Ireland and has worked in restaurants in Ireland, the U.K., San Francisco, and most recently New York City over the past 25 years. She also has an impressive banquet and catering resume, having worked for Marriott International for over 15 years.
Both Hussain and Ryan McClintock, Runa’s chef, have extensive backgrounds in classical french basics from culinary school. Hussain herself managed a French Bistro in New York City for quite some time and saw how customers would attach themselves to one dish or another that they frequently purchased.
“Bistro food is tasty, but approachable and like I said easy and comfortable for the palate,” Hussain said when asked about why she grew fond of this cuisine.
Runa is currently open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday are their longest days from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., while on Sunday, the restaurant is open until 8 p.m.
“We offer everything from a Croque Monsieur (A French version of a grilled Swiss cheese and ham with a yummy bechamel sauce), mussels and fries and even Duck Confit!” Hussain said. “We have something for everyone, including vegetarians and vegans.”
Some vegetarian options for lunch include a beet salad with bleu cheese and Hudson Valley honey thyme vinaigrette, as well as a lentil burger served with a side of greens.
For those who aren’t afraid of a little meat, choices include chicken salad with a side of curry and smoked salmon tartine with capers and shallots.
Other highlights from the menu include fresh crepes or homemade quiche for brunch and ratatouille or steelhead trout for dinner.
According to their Facebook page, Runa Bistro is dedicated to composting all of their food leftovers and scraps with the help of the Community Compost Company (CCC). The CCC, founded in 2013, is a women-owned composting business based in the Hudson Valley and Northern New Jersey.
Runa is not only focused on the environment, but also attention to detail, as many of the pieces featured in the bistro are authentic antiques or artwork.
“The vases on the tables were made by a local potter,” Hussain said. “The flowers are being provided by a local florist with French bistro stools at the counter. [The walls are lined with] antiques curated by my sister as well as vintage science charts that I had shipped from Berlin.”
Community members are thrilled by the new addition to New Paltz’s thriving food scene, and can attest to the detail and hard work that has been put into Runa.
“Lunch was sooo good and I was able to try three desserts that were all delicious…flourless chocolate cake is to die for. Loved the menu and ambience also!” read a review by Evangeline Casey on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Over 100 comments were posted to Runa’s opening day photo on Sept. 27, all of which were positive remarks or words of support.
While they were not able to sell alcohol on opening day, as of Oct. 5 they are officially licensed to serve alcoholic beverages such as mimosas and wine with meals.
“The customers are loving the food, loving the new décor and vibe,” Hussain remarked. “As I say to all our customers, I am open to ALL feedback. That’s how you learn to run an efficient business. We are here to please the masses.”
While some may still mourn the loss of the Village TeaRoom, there is little doubt that Runa Bistro will be a popular location for foodies, residents and students alike.
“I felt like New Paltz was ready for a change, and besides, I’m more of a coffee girl than a tea girl,” said Hussain.