Ulster County Restaurant Review: Bistro at Vineyard Commons, Highland, NY
The café quotient gets a boost from a newcomer in Highland
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The word “bistro” suggests a cozy neighborhood cafe serving affordable, country-style fare — maybe French, or perhaps the mix we call New American. As far as the cooking goes, the Bistro at Vineyard Commons meets that expectation. Chef Mark Poirier, who last cheffed alongside Barbara Bogart at the Locust Tree in New Paltz, has designed a short, nicely priced menu of classics ranging from escargots en croute to pot roast and pork chops. It’s also a neighborhood place in a way, although in this case the “neighborhood” is the new apartment complex on 26 acres in Highland, described by its management as “a luxury rental community” aimed at adults who are “New York A-listers looking for a rural escape.”
The bistro’s simple but elegant dining room
“Adult,” when it doesn’t mean something sexually charged, is code for “over 55,” of course, and the night we were there our fellow diners were mostly in their autumn years. (Whether or not they were A-listers was harder to determine.) When we called for a reservation, the hostess explained regretfully that the place was fully booked between 5:30 and 7:00, so it’s popular with the early bird contingent — who, it turned out, had scarfed up all the Saturday prime-rib specials before we late birds arrived.
You wind your way through the pristine development to get to the bistro situated near the woods in back. The dining room is pleasant, with big windows, French doors, and prints of grapes and other vineyard-y images hanging on butter yellow walls. The kitchen is enclosed in what looks like half a giant wine barrel. The mahogany armchairs are comfortable, and the lights soft. But it’s a very big room, and you could drive a golf cart between the tables if they’d let you, so the intimate bistro feel is absent. It was teeming with rain the night we went, but the setting must be breezy and welcoming in daylight, and there’s a patio for when it’s warm.
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