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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A favorite dessert, the chocolate profiteroles combine chocolate ice cream with a dark chocolate ganache
Wines are inexpensive (the priciest bottle is only $34) and are offered by the glass, along with daily drink specials. Service is casual and obliging. Our waitress searched out a bit of cardboard to fix our wobbly table, and happily replaced a glass of wine that we didn’t like. As for the bistro eats, Poirier turns out classics, but often adds a little fillip to lift them up. For example, tender, fried calamari came with the usual lemon aioli and a spicy marinara dip but got some zing from flecks of pepperoncini, Parmesan and herbs; while pickled red onion and flash-fried capers did the same for the Scottish smoked salmon (which was served with a tasty, light, potato pancake). Zesty gremolata tempered the rich gaminess of my Syrah-braised lamb shank, and I loved the earthy, wild-mushroom polenta and root vegetables brightened up with diced beets. A bistro-style steak got its perk from Worcestershire-laced butter, melted on top. The potato gratin side was creamy and satisfying, too — this chef has a way with spuds, although, oddly for a bistro, there are no fries on the dinner menu. To finish up, we indulged in traditional bananas Foster, a soothing treat on that chilly, soggy spring night.
The marinated portabello mushroom burger is served with goat cheese, pickled red onions, and baby spinach
Poirier says that as locals discover the eatery, a younger crowd is drifting in, especially for the simpler lunch menu and for Sunday’s brunch, when you’ll find standards like eggs Benedict and French toast along with fancier dishes like crawfish cornbread, and an Asian spinach and Soba noodle salad.
Considering its spacious setting and tony environs, this eatery should perhaps have been called a brasserie. But you get the sense that after a couple of visits you’d be treated like a regular, and that familiarity can create a casual bistro mood in any room.