Chris Ryan 
Like the olive oil and wine that are among its hallmarks, Port Chester’s Tarry Lodge simply gets better with age. Nearing its fourth year of consistently delivering flavorful food while managing to buck the Westchester County trend of rising dinner checks, I needed to see for myself what chef Andy Nusser and the Bastianich/Batali management team had in store for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week this year.
The friendly hostess greeted my date and me warmly, and after inviting us to a brief detour at the pearl-white marble bar in the main room, soon led us to our table. We were impressed by the obvious thought and creativity that went into designing the restaurant week menu. My first course was a bit of a play on bacon, eggs and toast. Crisp, savory guanciale cut through the creamy poached egg which gave way to the pleasantly crunchy texture of the fettunta bread.
My date’s beet salad, a well-conceived item for the season, was equally well-executed. The Coach Farms goat cheese bore a strong tartness that married perfectly with the earthy sweetness of the locally-sourced beets.
A delightful and inspired beginning, which was enhanced by exceptionally attentive service and hospitality that was consistent throughout the evening.
For my entrée, I went outside my comfort zone but kept with the pig jowl theme of the night and decided on the braised pork cheeks. Intensely savory and even lean, the braise had rendered the meat into a state of blissful tenderness. The accompanying creamy polenta and roasted apples completed this culinary ode to Autumn.
Cranberry relish and spicy whole-grain mustard infused a bright and spicy flavor profile to my date’s turkey roulade. A clever Italian interpretation of Thanksgiving on a plate.
Portions were generous for a night on any week, not just restaurant week, and so we honestly could have gone without dessert. But who are we kidding? I proceeded to thoroughly enjoy my “schiacciata alla Fiorentina,” which evidently Italian for “delicious. It’s basically a lght, fluffy orange sponge cake bursting with warm citrus flavor. With an assist from the fresh fruit on top, this classic Italian “Easter cake” ended this delightful meal on a light and fun note.
I applaud everyone at Tarry Lodge for their uncompromising standards for menu creativity, quality of product and impeccable service. It was a pleasure to have my 2012 HVRW experience there, and it ultimately reminded me that I need to make reservations there more often.