Liberty Public House Restaurant Review in Rhinebeck: American Comfort Food and Dining in Dutchess County
Celebrating the past: An old-time setting matches the American comfort fare at Liberty Public House in Rhinebeck
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House-cured gravlax and caviar rests on a sour cream-topped potato crêpe
We settled into the dining room, and our prompt, helpful (and cute) server presented us with warm, rosemary buttermilk biscuits to nibble while we looked over the menu. A reasonably priced selection of wines includes varieties from local vineyards; my glass of Millbrook Chardonnay was a generous pour.
“Liberty: in the pursuit of happiness,” the menu declares. We decided to kick off our pursuit with a kale salad on the theory that eating something super-healthy evens out whatever naughty food you eat afterwards. This was curly kale rather than the Tuscan type, and rather overdressed with white balsamic, so the lovely bits of dried cherries and pistachios didn’t sparkle as much as they might have, but it was good all the same.
Devils on horseback (stuffed dates wrapped in bacon) were a favorite savory course when people served such a thing at dinner. More recently, you’d see them impaled on a toothpick and passed around at cocktail parties, but they’re rare on menus. Presented on a footed pewter-esque stand, these were a treat, the dates stuffed with tangy blue cheese, wrapped in bacon and broiled — crisp, soft, salty, and sweet all at once.
It’s almost heresy to admit, but neither of us cares much for mac and cheese, nursery favorite and well-known hangover cure though it is. But my other half went for the truffled version anyway, and enjoyed it far more than he was expecting to. “Civilized cheese, properly cooked mac, and just enough truffled sauce to make you feel like a grown-up,” he announced as he polished it off. My beer-battered cod was lifted above the commonplace by a tangy tarragon-lemon aïoli to dunk it in. Sweet potato fries were a nice touch, too.
Desserts included temptations like bourbon crème brûlée and hot chocolate molten cake, but seeing the words “warm sticky toffee pudding” on the menu sent a shiver of nostalgic delight through me. It’s a classic British dessert, a moist date cake, topped with a sauce made with lashings of brown sugar. How often can you bookend your dinner with a date dish? The sticky toffee puddings of my distant girlhood were darker and stickier, if memory serves, but this was a velvety, lip-licking job anyway. A small scoop of vanilla ice cream and a blackberry and mint leaf as garnish were fancy flourishes that made it double yummers, as we used to say.
I wish the weary busboy had waited for us to leave before he snuffed out the candles on the big table in the middle, but we felt sated and happy as Panarella bid us goodbye and we toddled out into the misty night.
Liberty Public House
Open daily for lunch and dinner; until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Starters $6-$12; mains $16-$28; desserts $8.
6417 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck
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