The village of Rhinebeck has been on the uptick for a number of years now, but it’s really become a happening town since Chelsea Clinton chose it for her wedding in 2010. Summer sightings of Clintons in Rhinebeck are fairly routine these days — and still newsworthy for the local papers. Rhinebeck is a day tripper’s delight, with so much to see and do in town or within a 20- to 30-minute drive.
Why it’s worth the drive: We’ve had some delicious dinners in Terrapin’s main dining room over the years, but we really like it for lunch, in the adjacent Red Bistro/Bar. It’s a vast, high-ceilinged space (a former Baptist church) that’s informal yet a bit dressed up and special. Many people prefer the bistro over the fancier dining room for dinner. Josh Kroner, the longtime chef-owner at Terrapin, has made a quite a name for himself since opening here in 2003. His food covers a lot of ground: New American with a classical French base, with strong influences from the Southwest, Asia and Italy.
See more: Destination Restaurants Worth a Drive.
What to order: We love the build-your-own sandwiches, usually choosing among the fried cod, duck confit or Hudson Valley Cattle Co. burger. Tons of choices for bread, sauce and extras. Excellent house-cut fries. Tapas are good, too, and sensibly priced from $3 to $5. The endive salad with walnuts, blue cheese and apples is a fall favorite. The quesadillas, especially the duck, are perfect starters for the whole table. Get the warm Molten Center Chocolate Cake, with local Ronnybrook vanilla ice cream, for dessert.
While you’re there: Oh, so much. Poet’s Walk, Bard College (with its magnificentFrank Gehry-designed performance space), Montgomery Place, Wilderstein, Olana. For plant shopping, there are two very good nurseries: Northern Dutchess Botanical Gardens and Phantom Gardener. And the walk-around in-town shopping and antiquing is swell. In no time, you’ll be window shopping at local real estate offices to see what’s on the market.
Insider tip: The very popular Rhinebeck Farmers Market runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays year-round, which is great if you want to take home farm-fresh goodies. Not so good if you’re hunting for a parking spot in town, near Terrapin. Be patient and keep widening your search to nearby residential streets. You might get lucky and score a spot in the restaurant’s lot.
Details: 6426 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck, 845-876-3330,www.terrapinrestaurant.com/
— Bill Cary