Hudson Valley Restaurant Week: The Bird & Bottle Inn

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Hi, this is Doug from Hungry Travels.  Friday evening at The Bird & Bottle Inn: I’ll remember it as the night when I ate a fine meal, and maybe, just maybe… saw a ghost.

This post is going to be part history lesson, part restaurant review, and part ghost story, so bear with me.  Here’s the history you should know: Originally called Warren’s Tavern, The Bird & Bottle Inn opened in 1761.

In 1865, the innkeeper’s daughter, Emily Warren, married Washington Roebling, later helping him complete the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.  Emily Warren’s bedroom still exists at The Bird & Bottle, and guests can stay there overnight.

Downstairs is the bucolic, cozy dining room with wood-beamed ceilings and a fireplace — and where my friends Michael S., Michael B., Ron and I got together for a Restaurant Week dinner.

I started with an appetizing duck breast and frisee salad of apple and goat cheese, in a cider and honey mustard vinaigrette.

After a week of eating meat I appreciated the brightness and delicate quality of my entree: pan-seared scallops, red cabbage slaw, tomato and avocado salsa, and pineapple hot sauce.  So many great flavors and textures going on, with the kick of gentle heat in the sauce.  The scallops were also super tender and fresh.

Ron’s braised short ribs with parsnip puree and asparagus.  No need for a knife — the meat just fell off the bone.

Both Michaels ordered the Poisson — roasted chicken with parsnips and carrots in a spicy Thai-inspired sauce, I believe. (When we looked at the menu none of us were positive what poisson was, but I’m going to gloat because I said chicken; the other guys thought poisson was fish.)

For dessert the guys each ordered chocolate cake.

I went with the key lime Calypso parfait; it might have been my favorite dessert so far during Restaurant Week.  I adored the layers — tart key lime disc up top, creamy custard, and a spongy ladyfinger bottom, latticed with chocolate strips around the shell.  Beautiful to look at and even better to eat.

At one point during dinner the topic of conversation turned to ghosts.  When we got our bill we jokingly asked our server if The Bird & Bottle Inn was haunted.  “It sure is,” she said. “We have the ghost of Emily Warren.”  She went on to tell us how Warren’s ghost lingers around, closing drapes and doors — in fact, Emily Warren’s bedroom is the most requested room at the Inn.  Yikes. That would not be my room of choice.

Before we left, we decided to check out this Emily Warren room. First, let me give you a little backstory: A few years ago I worked on a video project about ghost hunting and learned that in photos of ghosts there often appears an “orb”, an unexplainable spherical object that some researchers believe is the manifestation of the ghost’s spirit.

Skeptics say orbs are simply dust, moisture on the lens, or anomalies of digital cameras.  I currently have 672 pics on my camera, and looking back through them, none have any indication of an orb.

We walked into the Emily Warren room and I said, “Let me take a pic while we’re here.”  Look at what showed up in the upper left part of the picture:

“Holy *&^%, that’s an orb!” I said excitedly.  We tried to come up with an explanation: reflection from the mirror, light through the window, etc.  If that was the case, the orb would still be there if I took another picture from the same spot, right?

It was gone.

I don’t even know if I believe in ghosts, and there’s probably a simple explanation for the orb, but you’ve gotta admit it’s a little strange and freaky.  And if it was the ghost of Emily Warren, I wonder where she ran off to in the second pic.   I’m guessing she went downstairs to sample the superb food of her inn. Ghosts have to enjoy Restaurant Week too.

The 411 on Bird & Bottle.

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