HVRW 2014: The Twisted Oak in Tarrytown

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The Twisted Oak is located in the former Isabella’s on the lower half of Main Street. Chef Michael Cutney and co-owner Jason Parenti both grew up in Newburgh, and are now bringing exciting things to Tarrytown. The pair really took on a big challenge opting to participate in HVRW after only being open 6 weeks. The chef has risen to the challenge by offering many different and creative plates while pumping out dishes to a crowded dining room even on a weeknight. I popped my head into the kitchen if only for a moment to thank him for the special treat of his light and airy gnudi with preserved lemon atop and he was masterfully plating many dishes in order to delight his diners. The chef prides himself on the use of many Hudson Valley ingredients in his featured dishes. As seen on SmallBites.

P1000892Gnudi with winter greens, preserved lemon in a Pecorino broth sent out as a special treat from the chef were airy and light and can be found on the regular menu.

Hi! Donna Monaco Olsen here, co-coordinator for the Taste of Westchester Continuing Education program for Westchester Community College to share with you from another wonderful meal during HVRW 2014. All demo classes are held within Westchester restaurants, where local chefs share their talents and recipes with us in their own dining rooms. All current demonstration classes are listed here. Chef Michael has promised to do a class this fall sharing his skills and knowledge so watch for the announcement.

As a frequent visitor to Tarrytown I am proud to see the level of restaurants along the Main Street corridor:  Chiboust, Tarry Tavern, Sweet Grass Grill and now The Twisted Oak. The Tarrytown Music Hall and train being part of this community has allowed for a mix of upscale, creative and lovely restaurants. Add this one to the mix as a must try. The menu also had 3 sides for an upcharge which seems to be the new norm for HVRW. We like the idea that for $5 each we were given the choice to try some of the regular menu dishes that might have us coming back.

The bar is constructed from reclaimed French oak barrel staves, broken apart, sanded and refurbished and is most interesting as the showpiece in the restaurant. It was created by Parenti’s father, a custom wood-worker who has made wonderful touches that are warm and inviting within the restaurant’s interior. I am sure many ask about the fantastically rich color painted throughout, a warm greenish grey color adorns the walls (I am now thinking which room in my home can handle this rich hue as it is a stunner).

Our waiter was very knowledgeable with the menu and helped us to decide by describing in detail anything we questioned. The dishes in bold type face were from the HVRW menu. The chef offered five choices for appetizers as well as five choices for entrees. The additional entrees not tried were Pastrami Spiced Chatham Cod and Short & Sweet – beer braised short ribs.

P1000880Truffled Chickpeas – garlic, parsley and Parmigiano $5 extra side. Amazingly addictive as they are both crisp and soft at the same time. A tasty addition and paired well with the kale salad for the crunch factor.

P1000876$5 extra side dish of Poutine – duck fat potatoes, gravy, Coach Farm cheese curd, oddly tasted better as the gravy and cheese curds melted together and got thicker. We would have liked the potatoes a bit crisper but this was our first experience with the famous “Poutine” dish and now will seek it out.  The crisp sage was a nice touch and we want to come back to try this dish again. Not many in the area have it on the menu although it is a classic.

P1000881  Kale salad – grapefruit segments with lemon dressing, Serrano, mint and Ricotta Salata provided us with a healthy offering. One of our diners said the greens were too coarse and tickled a bit. It was one of my favorites of the night tasting both fresh and clean. The wooden bowls reminded me of the 60’s and went with the restaurant’s theme. Loved them.

P1000884PEI Mussels “aqua pazza” (translation crazy water), with grilled bread. The spicy broth is a “dipping” delight. The tender mussels were delicious and the after-burn is a welcome contrast to some of the milder dishes. We would come back just to “dip” into this dish again.

P1000882White Bean Polentina – beet tops, crisp pancetta was a very tasty soup. My misreading of this had me expecting polenta so it was not what I was going for. It was however a very delicious hearty winter dish. The greens gave the creamy beans a bitter contrast enhanced by the saltiness of the Pancetta.

P1000890John Fazio Duck Lasagna – mushrooms, kale and a duck egg enjoyed by my hubby and described as layers of pasta sheets with a  duck ragu and bechamel enhanced by the bright creaminess of the egg. I loved the different vessels used to serve the dishes as it added both function and interest.

P1000886Chicken & Dumplings – Hen of the Woods (mushrooms), Mustard Greens, Frascatelle (Italian spaetzle).  The skin was cooked to perfection as it was very crunchy offsetting the soft gamey chicken. This dish had only dark meat and was earthier than anticipated. We would have liked the “pasta” to be pan fried more as described by our waiter and more plentiful to create a bigger contrast to the “woodsy” mushrooms. The sauce was a beautiful addition to the dish.

P1000888“Creamed Cabbage” Risotto – G/M Brussels, Apples, Black Pepper, Coach Farm Goat Cheese was creamy and perfectly cooked. The tang of the cheese somewhat overwhelmed this dish. We would have liked to see crisp Brussel sprout leaves on top to add texture and cut the tanginess of the cheese.

P1000894
Although we would have liked to see a chocolate dessert offering, all agreed the French Toast Fluffernutter – peanut butter caramel, marshmallow cream, and honey peanut praline to be a creative twist on the classic PB & Fluff sandwich from childhood.  All who ordered this craved more PB sauce but loved the burnt marshmallow taste (maybe it needed a bit of of the “J”).  It was nice to see the creativity on a HVRW menu instead of the “bread pudding” norm.

P1000897The Zeppole – made with sheep’s milk ricotta were both light and crisp, and dusted with sugar, cinnamon and  a Cara Cara caramel that we wished there was more of to dip our doughnuts.

This restaurant is a must try and a welcome addition to the Westchester restaurant scene.  We can’t wait to see what flavor combinations the chef has in store for us this Summer utilizing the freshest ingredients from the farm.

Chef we can’t wait for class.  Congratulations on a winner!

IF YOU GO:  61 Main Street, Tarrytown, 914-332-1992, Website under construction

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About Author

As a contributing blogger and the author of "Chef’s Tip", Donna Monaco Olsen recaps great cooking demonstrations from local restaurants. As the the coordinator for Westchester Community College’s Continuing Education program, named “A Taste of Westchester,” she writes the program, which offers more than 35 cooking classes each semester, and recruits chefs to do cooking demonstrations in their restaurants. She holds a full time position in the education field, and in her off time develops and contributes recipes for cookbooks. She is an avid baker and a former cake decorator who created many custom designed specialty cakes. Along with her husband, she reviews restaurants on Small Bites during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week.

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