Brasserie 292 in Poughkeepsie: Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2012

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Robin Locker Lacey here again with my second dining experience for HVRW 2012.  I am no stranger to Brasserie 292 in Poughkeepsie.  In fact, it is one of my favorite new restaurants to hit the area in quite some time.  I’ve had fun working my way through their menu and I could likely recite the lunch, dinner and brunch menus in my sleep. Maybe even the wine list.

That said, when I noticed they created a separate lunch and dinner menu for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week with unique offerings not available on any of the regular menus,  I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pop in for lunch just to try something different.

I stopped in on Tuesday afternoon and the restaurant itself was buzzing with a good lunch crowd and I was immediately welcomed in the same warm and friendly manner I’ve grown accustomed to.

I grabbed a seat at the beautiful marble bar, partly because it’s a comfortable atmosphere for a solo diner and partly because I knew I’d have a better shot at good quality photos by sitting near the front windows which offer natural lighting.

The focus here is on local, as evidenced by a mirrored sign that displays a list of local purveyors that supply ingredients.  Nice touch.

I promptly ordered my three courses from the restaurant week menu, and not long after someone arrived to offer me a choice of bread – a French baguette, or the French county sourdough, which are placed individually using tongs to your plate.  Today, I chose the sourdough, but I’ve had both before and they are equally good.

My appetizer, sprout creek farm goat cheese flan, arrived promptly.  It was a warm mold of creamy and tangy cheese set on top of a eggplant caponata and served alongside perfectly toasted and oiled baguette slices.  It was out of this world.  The caponata had just the right amount of sweetness from the caramelized onion. It almost tasted of sweet peppers.  No bitterness in that eggplant at all.

I chose the fresh pea and rock shrimp risotto as an entree because it sounded like a perfect spring dish, and I was right. The risotto was cooked al dente and while the dish was creamy, it wasn’t at all heavy.  The peas were vibrant green and firm, the shrimp were pink and tender.  The combination of mint, sorrel and tendrils gave the risotto a very unique, fresh, herbal flavor.  It was indeed spring on a plate.

At one point, I could feel myself on the verge letting a moan and groan slip while eating. I told the servers at the bar, who I’ve developed a fun banter with to ignore me if I started making noises while eating my food, which I often find myself doing with food THAT good.  They chuckled and gave me permission to have my very own ‘When Harry Met Sally” moment, and then joked about the subsequent “I’ll have what she’s having!” comments which would quickly follow from other diners. Good times.

The meal ended with dessert – vanilla bean panna cotta in passion fruit soup.  Not only was the dish visually stunning, but it tasted amazing.  You could see tiny flecks of vanilla bean throughout the custard and the flavor was enhanced by the bright, sweet, passion fruit, which had a cool velvety texture.  Blackberries added a pop of color and the delicate lace cookie, offset the creaminess, with a bit of buttery crunch. For a moment I considered licking the plate clean, but decided it might not be appropriate. It is a bit of a classy place after all.  I did, however, get every last morsel possible, with the spoon.

Honestly, it was hands down the best $20.95 I have spent for lunch since I can remember.  I can’t think of a place serving better food, beautifully presented, for that kind of value in the area, which is exactly why I will continue to be a regular fixture at this welcome new gem.

 The 411 on Brasserie 292.

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