10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Has the snow and cold got you down? Cheer up: Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. From snowshoeing and swing dancing to bargain shopping, we’ve got ideas on how to defend yourself against the winter doldrums


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9. [Bring On Brunch]


brunchMcKinney & Doyle photograph by Ken Gabrielsen

There’s something special about Sunday brunch. Maybe it’s the naughty-seeming novelty of starting out the day with a mimosa instead of the usual cup of joe. Or the opportunity to treat yourself to breakfast as well as lunch, all at one sitting. In any case, it’s a surefire way to boost your sagging spirits.

Bring your appetite — and your camera — to brunch at the Thayer Hotel, perched beside the Hudson River on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, offers a generous brunch featuring everything from croissants and bagels to sliced sirloin, custom-order omelets, or special entrées like chicken Marsala or penne alla vodka. Adults receive complimentary champagne, mimosas, or bloody Marys. Prices are $27.95 for adults; children aged 6-12 are half price; children 5 and under are free.

Having brunch at Friends and Family II Hillside Restaurant in Accord is a cozy experience, especially if you snag a table near the beautiful stone fireplace. Options on chef Salah Alygad’s à la carte menu include traditional dishes like buttermilk pancakes and eggs Benedict, as well as more exotic fare (like a mixed-green salad with macadamia nut-encrusted fried goat cheese). “The omelet of the day may feature spinach, smoked salmon, or whatever the chef feels like using that morning,” says Denise McCarroll, the restaurant’s co-owner and manager. Heartier appetites can choose from offerings like grilled salmon fillet drizzled with black truffle oil or Wiener Schnitzel à la Holstein (veal topped with a sunny-side-up egg and accompanied by homemade spaetzle). The restaurant’s take on brunch has proven popular with weekenders and locals alike. “We have a really regular brunch crowd,” says McCarroll.

At McKinney & Doyle Fine Foods Café in Pawling, the setting is a late 1800s building, with roomy wooden booths and an antique tin ceiling. The food is top-notch, thanks in part to the adjoining bakery, which provides tasty breads and desserts. Omelets are popular, says Manager Andrew Sarubbi. “Our number-one seller,” he notes, “is the Smokehouse Omelet” — which features hickory-smoked bacon, peppers, onions, and cheddar cheese. “We’re also known for our corned beef,” he adds. Served in a cast-iron skillet, Judge Malone’s Corned Beef Hash is topped with eggs. Also worth a try: the strawberry and cream cheese pancakes with fresh berries and powdered sugar (pictured above); and Jerry Aron’s Favorite, a creamy made-to-order leek soup brimming with sautéed fresh shrimp and scallops.

At Restaurant X and Bully Boy Bar in Congers, the serving style at brunch is “butler-style buffet,” says General Manager Michael Pacella. That means everything comes to you: waiters roll serving carts right up to the table and serve choice after choice (around 20 or so) from silver trays and copper pots. Though the menu changes regularly, there are some staples, says Pacella — dishes like coconut shrimp, rack of lamb, roast pork with apple fritters, wild mushroom ravioli, and tortellini alla panna. Desserts range from crème brûlée to warm Callebaut chocolate cake. Brunch is served in five dining areas, including the lounge, which has a cozy fireplace. Sunday brunch is $38 (price does not include tax and tip, but does include unlimited champagne, mimosas, and kir royales).

If you happen to be shopping in Rhinebeck on a Sunday, take a brunch break at the Tavern at the Beekman Arms. The restaurant serves up mostly traditional brunch fare like French toast, steak and eggs, and eggs Benedict. Also available: three-egg omelets (with lobster, if you like), salads, and sandwiches. A Little Peoples' Brunch offers dishes like strawberry waffles with whipped cream and an Egg Beekmuffin. Try to book a table in the Pewter Room or Tap Room, both of which have working fireplaces (reservations recommended).

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