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The Short List

Where to Eat Upstate

I love getting around to different towns upstate. Each one offers something special. Mostly, given the company I keep, I am looking for a good place to eat... I mean really good. More often than not, it is a place to eat that gets me in the car, crinkly map in hand ready to get lost and found. It's become our inside joke, our personal hashtag. Getting lost and found.

If you know me personally or if you have DM'd me like many have, I have recommended some of the following eateries to you already. But I think you will like to have this checklist in your back pocket for when you're hungriest... right after a hike, or a bike, or a run, or a swim. Or even after a nap. I have my favorites, even among this list of top spots, but they are in ABC order (with pictures above) so you can explore them all. Come, get lost and found with me.

Benji & Jake's -- (Kauneonga Lake) Thin crust, wood fired pizza with a creative balance of unexpected flavors. I love the Laughing Goat, the Jackson Pollack, the Golden Oak and the Sweetie Pie. And their chicken wings are a long-awaited reinvention on the concept. The brothers -- yes, Benji and Jake -- started this enterprise, combining their talents, on the back of a jet ski trailer some years ago (their idea of a food truck). You will always find them here, smiling, welcoming and tossing pizza. Eat looking over White Lake and then hop in your boat and be off.

Brushland Eating House -- (Bovina) Stylish and divine in every way. The carrots are heavenly. Every dish they serve has been touched by Midas at least once. I love their regular dishes and always take advantage of their specials (like the cabbage caesar... to die for). Sara runs the house and her now-husband Sohail, the kitchen. What a partnership! Sometimes they guest in the city and even in Paris at trendsetting Colette (when it was still open). We have been going here since before it was Brushland (it was Heaven and then Two Old Tarts, now in Andes) and consider the spot our home away from home. In colonial times, folks gathered in eating houses around available food for nourishment and company, often in train cars. Brushland is that kind of place. It's company. It's simple. It's necessary.

The DeBruce -- (Livingston Manor) I featured the DeBruce last year after experiencing their 9-course tasting menu. Read it here. But the DeBruce also has a club room downstairs that is cozy and friendly with a highly competent bar that makes delicious cocktails. In the cooler months the fireplace casts a warm hum over the room. But the real star here is the food. There's always something new coming out of Chef Aksel's kitchen -- new trout, mushrooms of the season, chicharrones the way they were meant to be done! And the staples -- sliders, their Agrarian Feast salad... mmmmm. I could eat here every day and not tire of the food. And because we often come late on a Friday on the way upstate, we have the added pleasure of chatting with the chef and his colleagues as they take a break from their craft.

Henning's Local (Cochechton) -- Don't let the fact that Henning's is located over a gas station deter you. It has a simple, rustic farm elegance inside that is at once cozy and even a bit sparkly with some small chandeliers overhead. Henning, a tall Norwegian, brings his A-game to the kitchen. Brunch, dinner. We were overwhelmed by our amaretto-laced french toast and oven-baked eggs the first time we found Henning's. And we partook in a cheese making class here too. Henning is creative both in the kitchen and in this community. His friends and mixologists concoct surprising libations and have recently opened a bar and pub down the road: The Fire Station (located in a rehabilitated fire station, no less). Add that to the list of places to go for mac & cheese and burgers with a side of TGIF. Check out "Adventure Three" in this post for more on Henning's.

The Heron (Narrowsburg) -- Always hopping and with good reason, The Heron is a centerpiece in Narrowsburg. I have come here for brunch/lunch and a toodle about the town more than a few times. Narrowsburg has the best shopping of any upstate town -- Nest, The River Gallery, Sunny's Pop, Maison Bergogne and MayerWasner. Plus a bookstore, One Grand Books, to get lost in as you peruse the top ten lists of many notables for your "just right" book. But the best part of the day is sitting down in the Heron. Tables are packed and the bar is a delight. Crispy eggs with jalapeño cheese grits pretty much prevents me from ordering anything else. A rut, I know. Come and try the rest. You won't be disappointed.

The Red Rose Tavern (Roscoe) -- Just down the road from Junction Pool (where the Beaverkill meets the Willowemoc), this old place had been resurrected recently and is the kind of place you want to settle into and never leave. The food, which I always take at the bar, is comforting and simple. Just the cure for a lazy afternoon or a morning on the river. Last there I tried the vegetable pot pie and was delighted with it and its salad sidekick. While sipping a beer (great selection) I ambled about the living and dining room, curated with yesteryear's collectibles. A montage of small antlers faces off an opposing paint-by-number gallery. The old back-to-back Chesterfield sofa in front of the fireplace has my name on it this fall. Try to stop me. Melissa, the doyenne of the joint, showed me her progress on one of the motel's soon-to-be-opened rooms. Simple, tasteful, unique with large windows looking out on a crayon box of green. Here's a previous post on them.

Table on Ten (Bloomville) -- On a narrow slice of land between two roads, one of them being Highway 10, Table on Ten, pinched in like the Flatiron, dishes out pizza for dinner and various sandwiches and eggs-in-a-pan by day. "Why can't all salad taste this good?" I have heard more than once. Inside, the half way up olive paint and local paintings skirt the dining rooms and downstairs a huge antique mirror and hanging dried flowers make you wonder why you can't do that at home. Stylish. Delectable. The sandwiches are sizable and you won't leave a crumb, even if you think you can't eat that much when you start out. Tables outside on a pretty day. We recently convened there -- half of us riding bikes the back roads and the other half trailing in the pick up. Next time, pizza. Here's a previous post on them.

Uncle Brother (Hancock) -- An art gallery and a "this is what we are cooking tonight" kitchen have taken up residence in a former DaBrescia car dealership. With it's pale blue art deco-ish façade and a grass-through-the-cinderblocks surface underfoot, Uncle Brother is beautiful. The night we went, we said yes to everything. Salad, burgers, beer, a curry bonus and dessert. They make what they make and it's all delicious. We sat outside on picnic tables with forks and napkins in a tin can and wandered the galleries of paintings while we waited.

Wayside Cider (Andes) -- In the farm equivalent of a back alley, by the wayside, Wayside makes its own cider in the pre-prohibition colonial tradition from wild and cultivated apples. Here's a previous post on them. They also serve boards rife with cured meats, fresh eggs deviled with trout, pickled delicacies straight from the land, and cheeses. Other entries complement the boards, but I have never made it that far. The ciders are varied, each one with its own story, temperature and temperament, for that matter. The sunny yellow umbrellaed picnic tables, fire pit and boules area make for a community hubbub. I run into friends here often or just make friends when I get here. Leashed dogs are allowed to join in and beg for morsels quietly. Wayside's beginning is connected to Table on Ten (above) from a cider making contest the owner hosted one year. And what emerged is yummy and beautiful. In the winter, you can hunker down at the indoor bar for the same.

Here's another short list for you, since I am feeling generous. These are the places I have been meaning to get to, but haven't had the right moment or the right company. So, give me a call, and let's go together. Or maybe we'll just bump into each other there anyway!

Bà & Me (Callicoon) Vietnamese food, home cooked and authentic.

Brunette Wine Bar (Kingston) Wine and foods. So pretty.

Bull & Garland (Hobart) Cocktails and comfort food in a town of bookstores.

Callicoon Wine Merchant (Callicoon) I’ve bought wine here plenty of times. Now with an adorable tapas bar.

The Laundrette (Narrowsburg) Home cooking. No laundry service. Need to skip The Heron one time and go here instead.

The Stickett Inn (Barryville) Cocktails on occasion by Laura Silverman. That alone is worth the trip. But it's been on my list. Maybe I will stay the night in their Soak Room?

Got any secrets of your own you'd like to share? I am all ears (mouth and stomach, too).

xoxo, farm girl

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