North Plank Road Tavern Restaurant Review in Newburgh: New American Food and Dining in Orange County
North star: The North Plank Road Tavern offers New American cuisine in a vintage setting
Pretty on the plate: Salmon belly sashimi, resting on a bed of lemon yogurt, is topped with smoked mushrooms, spring flowers (arugula, chive, and broccoli rabe), and bronze fennel
Photographs by Teresa Horgan
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There seem to be two trends in restaurant naming these days: One is to simply call the place by its address, and the other is to conjure up images of a warm welcome by adding the word “tavern,” even if the setting is about as tavern-like as a corporate cafeteria.
In the case of North Plank Road Tavern, the “tavern” part is well-earned — the roadhouse has been a haven for hungry and thirsty travelers since 1801, when it was a stagecoach stop, and barely missed a beat during Prohibition by becoming a speakeasy. One proprietor early in the last century, a Mrs. Sauer, evidently enjoyed being there so much she stayed on as a ghost (sightings not guaranteed, but there’s a framed photograph of her on the wall).
There’s a little problem with the “North Plank Road” aspect, however, as Newburgh officials took the “north” part off the address a few years ago, but kept it on the road sign. Not to blame MapQuest — which I should know better than to trust anyway — but when we were hunting for the tavern in torrential rain on a recent night, we wound up at a bagel joint. After a few fruitless turnings-around, we called the restaurant for directions, which I scrawled on a scrap of paper that my husband (acting as navigator) managed to lose two seconds after I handed it to him. What with the flooded roads, steamed-up windows and near-zero visibility despite windshield wipers turned up to “frantic,” we inadvertently crossed the bridge to Beacon before the scrap of paper was found. So it’s a tribute to the charm of the place that our heated discussion about which of us was an idiot came to a halt the minute we stepped in the door. The promptness of a waitress bearing drinks didn’t hurt either.
Grilled manouri cheese dressed with Mediterranean chimichurri, olives, and herbs is a popular dish. Above, Chef Tibor Kogler (left) and owner Thomas Costa in the bar
From about 1998 to 2011, the tavern operated as Beebs. Prior to that it was run for nearly two decades by Thomas Costa, a Newburgh native with the genial air of a natural-born host. When Beebs closed, Costa came out of retirement and spent a year renovating the building before reopening as North Plank Road Tavern last December. The place is dripping with old-time ambiance, from the narrow entry hallway to the small dining rooms with sloping wood floors, beadboard ceilings, and plaster walls painted to resemble planks and stone. A carved mahogany bar salvaged from Newburgh’s old United States Hotel dominates the dimly lit, pocket-sized bar. There’s even a small patio where you can eat when the weather is good. It’s all very inviting.
Chef Tibor Kogler took over the kitchen in May and keeps the New American menu fresh by creating dishes inspired by whatever ingredients he finds each day. Kogler is a fresh-ingredient fanatic, who forages for mushrooms and wild greens during the summer and fall, but also visits farms four or five days a week to buy directly from our more innovative growers. The menu posted online offers a clue about the roster — maybe five appetizers, a couple of soups and salads, and six entrées including chicken, beef, pork, and pasta dishes — but expect inventive changes in preparation.
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