Restaurant Review: Shindig

Elevated American comfort fare in the heart of Woodstock


The popular Shindig Burger features grass-fed Angus chuck, English cheddar, onion chutney, and a special smoky sauce

Photographs by Jennifer May

There’s something about the energy in Woodstock; it’s addictive. You definitely feel it when you sit in Shindig and see Overlook Mountain in the distance,” says Ryan Giuliani, one of four owners who late last year opened the cozy eatery that is located smack dab in the heart of Woodstock.

In the early 2000s, Giuliani and his wife Mary found themselves heading upstate more and more frequently to escape the hectic pace of their lives running a successful catering company in New York City. “One day we went camping in Phoenicia and it started our love affair with the region,” says Giuliani, noting that the couple bought their own upstate home in 2005. But unlike many second-home owners who are content to see the Hudson Valley as purely a place to relax, Giuliani was eager to play a role in bringing new energy to the town. To open Shindig, he brought in longtime friends and colleagues Jennifer Potenza, Allison Garskof, and Lukus Hasenstab, owners of midtown Manhattan’s popular Penelope restaurant, as partners.

Located across from the village green at 1 Tinker Street, Shindig is a warm, pretty little place that offers “thoughtful comfort food.” The space that was formerly home to the Corner Cupboard has gotten a serious facelift and the resulting restaurant has been packed ever since it opened. During a recent visit, every seat was taken during the lunchtime rush — a lively, jovial mix of locals and tourists.

deviled eggs salad

Deviled eggs and a variety of salads are always on the menu

A hand-painted sign featuring an old-school Volkswagen Bus with an inviting spread of cushions, drinks, and musical instruments spilling out of the open back graces the door. Inside, the rustic, white-painted, wood-paneled walls provide a nice background for a number of lovely pieces like the antique, carved wooden frame around the mirror behind the bar. The wood that lines the walls came from a brownstone in Brooklyn, while other highlights like a decorative frame around a huge mirror behind the bar came from Nectar in High Falls. A wooden column gracing the back of the room hails from Red Barn Antiques in Woodstock, and the colorful, hand-made tiles that decorate the bar were made to order in Morocco.

An assortment of Art Deco-era, milk-glass lights hang from the ceiling, lending a charmingly mismatched air. “It took us two days of combing through light fixtures at Fed-On Lights in Saugerties to find what we were looking for but it was totally worth it,” says Giuliani.

A large black-and-white photo of concertgoers walking backstage at the original Woodstock Festival dominates the back wall, paying homage to the town’s famous past (even though we all know the Woodstock Festival took place 40+ miles away in Bethel, right?).

Outside, two wooden benches provide a perfect spot to do some people-watching while you wait. If you want to continue checking out the action on the village green while you eat, choose one of the small tables next to the big, plate-glass windows. The small space manages to seat 30 at a mix of small wooden tables; booths; and graceful, leather-wrapped, iron stools at the bar. This summer, a new take-out window situated in the small alleyway next to the restaurant will offer a quick way to grab a meal on the go as well as roughly a dozen more seats for those looking to dine alfresco.

pickled vegetables menu board

A plate of pickled vegetables changes according to the seasons

Although the location is clearly prime, the food is what keeps people coming back for more, a testament to the talents of Chef Page Moll, a 20-year restaurant veteran who relocated here from California.

According to Giuliani, “The original idea was to be a burger-centric restaurant but that morphed into more of a sophisticated take on American comfort food.”

A bowl of lentil soup had a delightfully complex yet harmonious flavor. The lentils are blended and flavored with tomato, cumin, rosemary, marjoram, and a handful of other spices, slightly reminiscent of refried beans. The fried Brussels sprouts were roasted then flash-fried and topped with grated Pecorino. The result was a meltingly delicious bowl of nicely caramelized sprouts.

The Shindig burger — a hearty grass-fed Angus chuck patty served on a shiny brioche roll and topped with a generous pile of caramelized onions, a schmear of smoky sauce, a thick slice of English cheddar, romaine, and fresh tomato — is accompanied by some of Shindig’s excellent house-made bread-and-butter pickles. Thankfully, this masterpiece arrived speared with a long bamboo skewer to help keep things right and tight.

A side of skin-on fries arrived in a twist of paper in a small, hammered metal tub accompanied by a china ramekin of the eatery’s tasty, espresso barbecue sauce — one of the five house-made sauces it offers for a dollar each. The other options are smoky, house, sweet & spicy, and sriracha aïoli — all of them worth a try.

The pickled vegetables plate was a supremely tasty assortment of crunchy golden beets, carrots, cucumbers, and onions in a sweet, vividly yellow brine. The pickling recipe is from Chef Moll’s aunt and the veggies in the mix vary based on the season.

We were quite full by the end of the meal but, mindful of my journalistic duty, I asked to see the dessert menu. We ordered the chocolate pudding, which arrived in a tall, delicate-stemmed parfait glass and was topped with whipped cream, a sliced fresh strawberry, and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Each bite of the rich chocolate was elevated by the sweet, fruity acidity of the strawberry and the barely sweet cream.

A thick slice of peanut-butter cheesecake arrived with a waterfall of sautéed spiced banana slices and whipped cream. Although I found the texture to be slightly grainy, the flavor was excellent, with just the right amount of peanut butter and a buttery graham-cracker crust.

Our server, a lively, dark-haired Brit named Freya, was prompt, attentive, and fun. She happily answered questions about the food and provided well-informed suggestions when asked. She even decorated the take-away boxes (cardboard boxes she made sure to tell me could be composted, recycled, or burned) with little “love notes” like “our amazing sprouts — made with love” to help me keep track of what was what, asking, “Do you want a bag for all your bits and bobs?” as the containers began to pile up.

A number of other dishes caught my eye as they went past: two steaming plates of Croque Madame trailing wonderful aromas; a delicate plate of deviled eggs; a not-so-delicate-looking plate of latkes topped with sour cream and a side of apple-ginger marmalade; a beautiful, velvety red tomato soup; and an eye-catching beet-and-brown-rice burger, to name a few.

The excellent coffee is provided by New York City’s Kobrick Coffee; Giuliani reports that Shindig will also begin offering cold-brewed coffee this summer.

Don’t Miss: The pickled veggies will win your heart, the turkey burger is a delightful surprise, and the Buffalo chicken melt is sinfully good.

If you go...

Plates range from $6 to $12 with most entrées between $9 and $11. Sides are $4; beers and ciders are $8.
Open Weds.-Mon., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday) with breakfast served until 3 p.m. daily. Open on Tuesdays during the summer.
1 Tinker Street, Woodstock

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