Diamond Mills Hotel and Tavern, Saugerties, NY: New American Food and Dining in Ulster County, Upstate NY (Restaurant Review)

A tavern for all tastes: The eatery at the new Diamond Mills Hotel brings stylish fare to Saugerties



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executive chef giuseppe napoliExecutive Chef Giuseppe Napoli

After that, our dishes came out in swift, well-paced succession. A first course of Prince Edward Island mussels was terrific — juicy little mollusks in creamy coconut-milk broth, fragrant with cilantro and lemongrass, and flecked with chunks of Chinese pork sausage. Luckily, Reeve and Karrol had just polished off an order and warned us about the potency of the Thai bird chiles lurking in there. (Napoli later told me that they’re included to add flavor rather than to be eaten, so be forewarned.)

Diced red and gold roasted beets, another first course, were arranged in two neat columns, snazzily drizzled with aged sherry vinegar and pistachio oil, and festooned with bits of ricotta salata and blood orange. It was a nice mélange, with garlicky crostini a tasty counterpart. The flatbreads are more chewy and focaccia-like than your dainty, thin-crust jobs. The barbecued short-rib version was hearty enough that we ended up bringing some of it home, even though we were sharing. There was nothing shy about the flavor of this, either. Plenty of smoky meat, a generous sprinkling of smoky bacon, and some smoked mozzarella made for a smoky trifecta. Nicely caramelized onions, horseradish sauce, and an orange gremolata added sweet and piquant notes that married the flavors together. Pineapple chunks seemed like overkill, so I just picked them out.

The thing I liked best about the Tavern salad was the grilled rustic bread that came with it. Smoked bacon and a buttermilk-blue cheese dressing went well with the crisp wedge of iceberg lettuce, but the out-of-season tomato was tasteless. I guess the combination is a riff on a BLT, but it will be better when the flavorful, local Ts come into season.

tavern at diamond mills outdoor patioThe view of the Esopus falls from the outdoor deck

My favorite dish of the evening was the asparagus and rock shrimp risotto — a flavorful, creamy concoction made richer with some tangy goat cheese. Bits of prosciutto-like speck contrasted well with the sweet rock shrimp and perfectly al dente asparagus. Lemon zest added a fresh note, but the mint mentioned in the description was not discernible to me — and I didn’t miss it. Even though it was a half portion and delicious, I couldn’t manage the whole thing, but the leftovers were still good after a night in the fridge.

Meat dishes include a burger, a Cornish hen, grilled lamb, and the rib eye steak that we tried. Rib eyes come in three portion sizes here: 12, 16, and 22 ounces, cut in-house. The 12-ounce resembled a nice slice of prime rib — which is to say, not very thick. It’s awfully hard to get a char on a thin cut without drifting toward well done, which is what presumably happened to our medium-rare order. Nevertheless, it was tasty and tender, and the cilantro-chimichurri sauce kicked it up a notch. The vegetable hash side was a little too salty, but the truffle-parmesan fries that we couldn’t resist made up for it.

One of the Tavern’s best-selling desserts is the reconstructed candy bar — a clever rendition of the Take Five candy bar — combining chocolate cake, chocolate-covered pretzels, caramel, and peanut butter mousse. The chef said customers are also mad about the caramel tart, made with chocolate short dough crust. We’d eaten so much, we couldn’t even manage a frozen lemon parfait.

With a regional and international wine list that runs from a moderate $25 to $60 a bottle, and a well-thought-out menu that allows you to have either an affordable, casual meal or something fancier, Diamond Mills will surely please both hard-working locals looking to kick back in style as well as the summer visitors heading this way.

Tavern at Diamond Mills
Lunch Wed.-Fri., dinner daily; brunch on weekends. Shareable plates $12-$28; first courses $9-$15; main dishes $15-$38

» Visit the Tavern at Diamond Mills Restaurant in Saugerties, NY
» Visit Diamond Mills Hotel and Tavern in Saugerties, NY

» Visit Diamond Mills Hotel and Tavern’s Web site at www.diamondmillshotel.com/tavern
» Visit Hudson Valley Dining Guide for more local restaurants
» Visit Food & Drink Guide for more local dining services

 

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