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Love – Love – Love – Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2011 March 14th – 27th

Hello Hudson Valley!  Okay so you all know that my honey and I totally enjoy dinning at various restaurants in and around the Hudson Valley.  We are always eager to seek out the newest and greatest restaurants, cafes, and other special eateries!  What better way to try out a few new places than during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2011!

A quick summary (for those that may not fully know what restaurant week is) about Hudson Valley Restaurant Week:  this year some 160 restaurantswill be participating.  Participating restaurants offer a 3-course prix fixe lunch for $20 and/or prix fixe dinner for $28.  This is a wonderful way to experience restaurants that you may not have otherwise visited or hadn’t had the chance to visit!

So with my honey working part-time several evenings during the week and many of the participating restaurants don’t include Fridays & Saturdays, we were limited on the number of evenings we had available but we selected three.  One had been on our list for some time we just hadn’t had the chance to get there and two were elected last minute.

The Birdsall House    located at 970 Main Street, Peekskill, NY – in a word, WONDERFUL!  We had wanted to visit this restaurant for about the last 6 months and just never seemed to be able to get there.  So because we had such limited time during restaurant week we made sure Birdsall House was on our list and we weren’t disappointed!

Owners Tim Reinke and John Sharp have done an amazing job in preserving the 1940′s look and feel of this bar/tavern now top shelf restaurant too!   We loved the mix-n-match authentic furniture which provides an eclectic interior.    The cool leather booths, wooded tables,  black and white checked floor with old-fashioned sky light all contributed to maintaining the feel of that 1940′s bar/tavern appeal. 

Kevin, our waiter, was extremely friendly, very helpful and completely made us feel welcome.  There is something to be said when the owner, the chef, your waiter/waitress or any of the staff of a restaurant go out of their way to be friendly and sincerely make you feel welcomed and that they honestly appreciate the fact that we visited their restaurant!  Hats off to the Birdsall House staff!

The Birdsall House was actually across the street from its current location and was a B&B where George Washington frequently stayed.  The current Birdsall House was formerly Connelly’s Bar (my grandfather apparently was known to have visited Connelly’s from time-to-time).  What’s even more special for me personally is the fact that all the beef used at the restaurant comes from Hemlock Hills Farmalso located in Peekskill, NY and (here’s the special personal touch) the farm is owned by my mother’s cousin!  As a child, I visited “Aunt Katherine on the Farm.”  Because I had a “1st” aunt named Aunt Kathryn, we always referred to my mother’s “1st” aunt my great or “2nd” aunt as Aunt Catherine on the farm.”  Farmer John, as Birdsall House owner John Sharp referred to) is my 2nd cousin.  Not only is the meat local but most everything else too from their cheeses and famous locally brewed beers!

Now for an ever more unique and special treat, the Birdsall House owners utilized the wide open wall space to project some of the best old movies in silent!    

So the first course for me was the Lentil and Chick Pea SaladFresh green lentils, wheat & spelt berries, parsley, radicchio, Meyer lemon vinaigrette and my honey had the Sausage & Cheese House made pork and fennel sausage, Adirondack black wax cheddar, porter and caraway mustard, mesclun salad!  Then our main course; for me was the Jerk-Spiced Shrimp Skewers:      Collard greens, curried okra & tomato, habanero hot sauce – and yes, it was hot! While my honey enjoyed the Braised Pork Belly:      Portobello mushroom broth, soft-poached egg, crème fraiche, scallions.  Okay so while you all know that normally my honey and I share a dessert, we both had our own during restaurant week! Hey this way we had the chance to sample as many wonderful dishes as possible!  For me it was the Sorbet Trio     and my honey had the Apple Bourbon Bread Pudding   Nutmeg whipped cream toasted pecans!

Amazing food, wonderful setting and gracious owners – watch the video and I’m certain you too will want to go this great hot spot - we will absolutely go back!

 Our 2nd restaurant was      Opus 465465 Main Street in Armonk.  Voted Best of Westchester 2009, we dined here on Saturday evening, the night of the Super Moon! The setting was a bit more formal – the service was polite and the food was prepared perfectly!  As the dining room upstairs was quite full, our waiter was busy-busy as he attended to many tables.  I started with the Blue Apple Salad:         Mesclun greens tossed with diced apples, glazed walnuts, crumbled bleu cheese and reduced balsamic vinaigrette while my honey had the Soup Sampler:     mini cups of Lentil, Crab Corn Chowder and Cream of Broccoli which all three were excellent!  We wished we could have ordered a pint of each to go!  For our main course, I had the Half Moon Tilapia  Tilapia fillet pan roasted with asparagus and sun-dried cranberries in a chardonnay sauce (I had mine prepared w/o the mushrooms – sorry to all you mushroom lovers) and my honey enjoyed the Chicken Scarpariello  Breast of chicken sautéed with crumbled hot and sweet sausage, roasted red peppers, spicy pepperoncinis, garlic, white wine and crispy potatoes.  And now for the finale – dessert – I totally enjoyed the Smores while my honey wrapped his fingers around the Banana Wrap!   

On to our 3rd, and unfortunately our last, restaurant of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2011 -        Traditions 11811 Old Tomahawk Street – Route 118, Granite Springs, NY - OMG, all I can say is… OUT OF THIS WORLD!  Mike, our server, was cheerful, the atmosphere was friendly and inviting and the food was simply delicious!  

I started off with the Strawberry Apple Season Salad: Mesclun green topped w/sliced apples & strawberries, caramelized walnuts and gorgonzola cheese in whipped strawberry vinaigrette.    I was in heaven with this salad which is now among the best appetizer salads I’ve ever had (my other favorite was a Celery Root-Beet Apple salad I had last year during HV Restaurant Week at Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill – Cold Spring NY) while my honey had the Meatball Salad: Chopped Romaine lettuce, tossed w/EVOO & aged balsamic, finished with shaved parmigian, their “Homemade Honey Ricotta,” and a giant meatball with a touch of marinara! Of course I tasted the Meatball Salad (just to make sure it was good for him of course, LOL) it was wonderful! 

On to our main course, I had the Saccette: Imported Italian “Pasta Pouches,” filled w/three cheeses, tossed in a tomato cream sauce with fresh peas (I had mine prepared w/o the mushrooms).  This dish was amazing!  The pasta was al dente and the sauce was over-the-top creamy!  My honey had the Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Tenderloin:     A thin prosciutto coating, served w/caramelized onions in sweet demi glaze! Somehow hmm hmm good takes on a whole new meaning here!   Our one neighbor had the New Orleans Paella:        Slightly spicy tomato-based chicken, chorizo sausage, mussels, clams and shrimp while his wife enjoyed the Chicken Rocco:      Light crusted chicken cutlet, stuffed w/goat cheese, grilled asparagus, & sun-dried tomato, finished w/touch of white wine gravy . . . so tell me, are you hungry yet!

Now let’s not forget the dessert, my honey always says, “there’s always room for dessert” and this dessert is not to be missed!  The ladies had the Ice Cream Crepe: Warm delicate French crepe, filled w/vanilla ice cream, finished w/maple syrup, chocolate, raspberry puree and fresh cream while the men had the Waffle Sandwich: Fresh Belgium waffle, vanilla gelato, a dash of maple syrup, fresh berries & cream – too delicious! 

 

For me personally, the so-called “cherry on top” was having the owner Michael stop by our table just to say hello, ask about our satisfaction with our dinner and thank us for visiting Traditions 118.  It is that kind of customer service that is missing in so many places today and yet is so important to overall success.  Special thanks to owner Michael & our server Mike for making our evening wonderful!

Combined with great company, having our neighbors join us for this diner, fabulous food, very warm and inviting environment made for one of the best dining experiences we during restaurant week!

Overall we loved all our dining experiences during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.  There is still a couple more days if you haven’t yet dined at a participating restaurant!  We thank all the participating restaurants and their staff for hosting such an outstanding event!  We look forward to 2012!

As always, I wish you days filled with wonder - take a minute to wonder what it is that made you smile today!

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