Hudson Valley Restaurant Week: Tavern in Garrison

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I had a fantastic meal at Tavern Sunday night. If my supper was any indication of how well the rest of HVRW will go, I think we’re in for a real treat. There were a ton of choices, the food was delicious and the portions were very generous indeed.

This here, Grown Up Mac & Cheese, was an appetizer. We only ate half! After all, we had to save room for lamb shank.

Here’s the video report from Tavern:

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To see more photos of the food and the diners, take the jump.

Since the last time I was at Tavern, they switched the entrance around. It’s now on the side that goes directly into the bar area. The old entrance is now only for members of the Highlands Country Club.

Just out front there’s an adorable little fire pit. This will be great on cool summer nights.

We’re nearly there, folks!

Inside. That’s the big ball room. Look at that chandelier!

Here’s a look around:

I love these wood tables.

Delicious corn bread — corn flavor but not sugary — served with a thick and rich apple butter:

Our first courses. Hearty Lentil Soup with Roast Pork and Parmigiano Reggiano:

So thick you could eat with a fork. Nice porky flavor, too.

Cranberries and Pecorino. Garrison Farms Baby Spinch and White Balsamic Vinaigrette:

Bright, fresh spinach. Sweet cranberries. Salty cheese. Very nice salad.

“Grown Up” Mac & Cheese. Andouille Sausage and Garlic Crumble.

This was terrific. Big chunky croutons with lots of garlic, a kick from the spice, and shells with creamy, stringy cheese. Yum.

What? You thought I wasn’t going to get something that comes with an egg? This is called Breakfast for Dinner. It has corned beef hash, toast and a Glynwood Farms Egg.

Adored it. The herbs on the egg were a nice touch. It’s like they were in the pan when the egg got cracked? They were really fried on there. So interesting.

By the time our dinner entrees came it was very very dark in the bar room. I had to use the flash and the photos don’t look that great. My apologies. This is Lazy Farms Pork Confit with Blooming Hill Farms Crispy Fingerlings with Bacon-Grape Stew.

I had a small taste of the pork, and it was fabulous. I was sitting across from my father, who ordered this dish, and I snuck a big bite of fingerling potato… crispy outside and the inside melted in my mouth.

Pan-Roasted Wild Striped Bass with Beans, Guanciale (substituted for the Andouille) and Baby Red Romaine:

Crispy skin. Flaky fish. Earthy beans. Great.

Guinness Braised Lamb Shank with Root Vegetables and Champ:

Do you know what champ is? According to Wikipedia, it’s an Irish food that’s made with potatoes, spring onions, butter and milk.The lamb was rich, moist and falling-off-the-bone tender. Perfect for a chilly night in March.

And I had the Mieller’s Beef Bucatini with House Cured Lardo Crostino:

This photo really does not do it justice. It was so gorgeous… looking and tasting. Meaty and tasty. Not too tomato-y. And holy Hannah. That lardo. Bravo, chef. Eric Gabrynowicz told me he’s been curing that for seven weeks. Impressive.

I want to mention that Tavern takes local very seriously. Many of the menu items have references to the farms where the ingredients are procured. Mieller’s, for example, is where the beef for the bucatini came from. And there are also a lot of local beers and wines. That bottle you saw in the dining room before was from Bedell Cellars on Long Island, and this Blaufrankisch is from Channing Daughters in Southhampton. We also started with a white from Channing Daugters: a 2007 Scuttlehole Chardonnay. Both wines were lovely and complemented our food perfectly.

So before we get to dessert, let’s hear from some of the other folks who were at Tavern on Sunday. First, Chris and Jen Hansen.

They were so kind to invite me to sit down at their table and talk to them about their meal. They’re regulars at Tavern.. moved to Garrison from NYC about a year ago. They come to the restaurant a lot because they love how often the menu changes.

Jen started wtih the cranberry salad. “Delicious,” she said. “Perfect. Greens are really fresh and good. Great start to the meal.”

And then the sea bass. She loved that too. “Fantastic. Fish is very firm and fleshy, very fresh.”

Chris had the bucatini that I also had. He said the balance was terrfic. (I agree!) Chris also told me that he’s been coming to Tavern for about a year and he never had a dish he didn’t like. Nice!

Peter Rostenberg lives in Fairfield and Janet Burnet lives in Ramapo, so Tavern was a great place for them to meet for dinner. They’re planning on hitting a lot of restaurants during the week.

“Restaurant week is an excuse for us to come out and support Lower Hudson Valley Restaurants,” Janet told me.

Janet had butternut squash soup and lamb shank.

Peter had lentil soup and scallops. “There are no better scallops than here. I started looking forward to these six months ago! Really!”

I also came up Tony and Janet Hernandez of Garrison.

They started with the spinach salad (Tony) and the lentil soup (Janet) and loved it. And then Janet had the pork confit (“Out of this world! Loved it!”) and Tony had the sea bass (delicious!). This was their first time at Tavern and they said they really thought it was cozy.

The Sternheims. Myra and Mark and their daugther Kerry, and Kerry’s fiance, Nick Tedesco.

Sorry your eyes are closed Kerry! These guys are looking at a lot of HVRW meals: Restaurant X, John Michael’s, Valley, 42. But they had such a great meal tonight that they might cancel one in favor of coming back to Tavern. They were just so impressed with the number of choices, the generous portion sizes and the quality of the food here.

“Sometimes I wonder,” said Mark. “Why they bother to do it if the options that they give have nothing to do with the restaurant.”

This is the Flaherty family of Croton-on-Hudson. Erin, Tammy and Rob:

They were superfriendly, and really really enjoyed their dinners.

“They offered some things from the regular menu,” said Rob. “Which is nice, because a lot of restaurants cut corners” for restaurant week.

Tammy had the Grown Up Mac & Cheese and said it was wonderful. “Down home and earthy,” she said. “Just like what you’d get at grandmom’s.”

And Erin really liked her lamb. She also said it was falling off the bone. (It really was!)

Rob paid the $10 supplement to get the Hudson Valley Foie Gras Peanut Butter and Jelly. “It really works,” he said. “You would never think something like that would taste so good.” But it did. The waitress told us that the “jelly” is made from roasted red pepper, habaneros and whole apples, and that peanuts are mixed with olive oil, salt and pepper to make the peanut butter. Sounds great. (Sorry! No photo!)

The Flahertys, who are lucky to have brand-new-driver Erin as their designated driver, plan on hitting Goldfish in Ossining and Blu in Hastings, too.

“It’s a great value,” Tammy said of Restaurant Week. “And a fun way to try a new place.”

After that, I headed back for dessert. We got four out of six. Here’s the Fudge Brownie Sundae with Cayenne Ganache. Am I allowed to curse on this blog? I’d like to say Holy… Something…

The hint of heat from the cayenne really took this to another level.

Vanilla Cheesecake with Toasted Walnut Bourbon Syrup:

Airy and light with still enough oomph to make it a cheesecake. And the walnuts were such a great foil for the texture. I think this was my favorite.

Irish Soda Bread Pudding with Bailey’s Creme Anglais:

Bouncy. Not too dense, and nice savory and sweet characteristics. (I found caraway, for example.) Very good.

Baked apple crisp. The a la mode was a $3 supplement, but we went for it anyway.

I really liked this, too. It wasn’t too sweet, but plenty apple-y.

I had originally planned to stick closer to home on Sunday night, but when I found that Tavern was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, I changed my reservation to make sure I could come here. I’m really glad because the food was delicious and the experience was fun (there are some really nice customers there!), but I’m also worried… this was my first experience in 2009 Hudson Valley Restaurant Week. Will other restaurants be able to hold a candle to this meal? Stay tuned!

PDFs of Tavern’s HVRW menus:

Tavern’s HVRW Dinner Menu
Tavern’s HVRW Dessert Menu
Tavern’s HVRW Lunch Menu

The 411 on Tavern.

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About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

5 Comments

  1. What did you think of Tavern — or any other HVRW restaurant? Leave your reviews here in the comments field.

    At the end of Restaurant Week, I will choose my two favorite comments and award the winners with a pair of tickets to a grand tasting session at the Greater New York Wine & Food Festival, which is May 15 and 16 at the Doubletree Hotel in Tarrytown.

  2. Also, don’t forget to tune in LIVE at 7 PM Thursday to see us at 42 in White Plains for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.

    And sign up to follow me on Twitter… I’ll be tweeting my courses each evening at dinner!

  3. David Hensley on

    What a fabulous article on an impressive restaurant!
    I look forward to going there after reading the emphasis on local ingredients and attention to making the food comforting and familiar…….and wine from Long Island ?…..absolutly!

  4. We went to the Bird and Bottle Inn in Garrison on Sunday. It was good, but an unfortunate incident where we were overbilled for the wine at the end of the meal (it was corrected) dimmed our enthusiasm. I had the shrimp chowder and it was excellent – thick, rich and spicy. The veal chops were small, and a little undercooked for my taste, but the sauce and the horseradish smashed potatoes were tremendous. The big disappointment was the coconut creme brulee – it came out cold.
    It is definitely a place to try. It really feels like you are in a tavern from the Revolutionary War days.

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