Mary Lynn Mitcham wrote a great Restaurants We Love column a couple weeks back on Cafe of Love. It really is one of those restaurants we love, isn’t it? Tell us your experiences at Cafe of Love in the comments below. A favorite dish? Your favorite table? Dessert? Let us know! Take it away, Mary Lynn:
Sorry, Hudson Valley restaurants. But given the overly abundant supply of local eateries and an economy that makes us think about where every dime is going, good food—even great food—isn’t enough to earn our dinner reservations. We are, after all, going out a lot less than we used to. So if you want to see us these days, you’ll need to seduce us with an inviting dining room that’s cheerful at lunch and romantic at dinner, a wait staff that nurtures and pampers as if we were guests in their homes, a wine list with delicious options by the bottle and the glass, and a menu that supports local farms. Oh and yes, the food must be a string of perfectly cooked, fresh, flavorful dishes.
Think those requirements sound too lofty? Then check out Café of Love in Mount Kisco. Since opening its doors a few years back, it has been raising the bar on our restaurant standards with a local New American menu that’s seasonal, creative, and bold; a worldly wine list; and a staff and setting that are kick-back-and-stay-awhile inviting. No wonder this “love” relationship is a total two-way street.
Leslie Lampert, below, originally opened Café of Love as an offshoot of her Mount Kisco soup kitchen, Ladle of Love, around the corner.
The Café is as casual or as elegant as you care to make it. Beautifully distressed farmhouse tables of all shapes and sizes are scattered around the floor with rustic chic randomness.
A colorful chalkboard notes where your food is from… arugula grown at Amawalk Farm in Katonah, beef raised at Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortlandt Manor, goat cheese made at Rainbeau Ridge in Bedford Hills, the list goes on. A sleek granite-topped bar runs the length almost of one wall, and a window in the back provides a glimpse of the kitchen, where chef de cuisine Hector Coronet works his magic.
The menu is seasonal, so in summer, expect to see tomatoes, peaches, and greens. In autumn, dishes with pumpkins, squash, and apples come to life, and in winter, you’ll see firsthand the merits of beets, mushrooms, potatoes, along with other hearty fare. This spring, Café’s offering incredible soups and salads like asparagus with butter lettuce; heirloom beets with whipped goat cheese (below); sweet pea soup with mini rye croutons; and fava and faro soup with minted yogurt. As always, everything is fresh from the farm. And who wouldn’t want to linger over entrees like duck with apricot polenta; branzino with a ginger lemon emulsion; or rack of lamb with sweet potatoes?
It’s hard to go wrong with anything on the menu, anytime of year, but I always love the flatbreads. Once the kitchen produced one grilled and topped with figs, ricotta, and caramelized onions that was just out of this world. This spring, there’s a version that sounds even more tempting: roasted artichokes, leeks, tomatoes, and Pecorino. If you’re not in a spring mood, there are staples that stick around all year: French onion soup, served in a crock and topped with Gruyere, comes with a rich, flavorful stock and bubbly cheese that clings to your spoon. It’s sensational, not to mention almost a meal in itself. The seafood bouillabaisse, a light herbal broth filled with shrimp, mussels, and prawns, is practically a mini version of the ocean, nice for those nights when you want something light. The steaks are hearty, always cooked to a warm, pink center that makes for a juicy medium rare, and be sure to try the pommes frites, crispy fried string potatoes, delightfully served in a flower pot. The mac and cheese — al dente pasta mixed with creamy, rich cheddar — is decadent, but worth every last calorie. And for dessert, never miss the bread pudding, flavored with almond and topped with a vanilla crème anglaise.
Steak frites. All photos by Joe Larese/The Journal News
Sure, when you want a great meal there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. But when you want a restaurant that has it all — ambiance, service and delicious food — then Café of Love is all you need.
IF YOU GO…
3B E. Main St., Mount Kisco. 914-242-1002; cafeofloveny.com
Lunch: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Dinner: 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.
Good to Know: Want a Café of Love meal, but don’t feel like heading out for dinner? Check out Love on the Run, which lets you order from the menu at Ladle of Love or Café of Love and then delivers a farm-fresh meal to your door. The service is offered from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and you must be within 15 miles of Mount Kisco. For more info, check out cafeofloveny.com/loveontherun.html.