Fine Fare at a Paltry Price

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week offers penny-pinchers (and all other) dining deals at the region’s finest hot spots



cia american bounty restaurantAmerican Bounty at the Culinary Institute

Drop those deep-fried nuggets and drive past those drive-thrus: Those who enjoy dining out but have been reluctant to indulge in a good, quality meal due to financial stress can look forward to Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, from March 15-28.

Now in its fourth year, this annual event involves more than 100 Valley restaurants located in six counties, stretching from Columbia to Westchester. Each eatery taking part will feature a special prix-fixe menu, offering a three-course lunch, priced at $20, and/or dinner for $28. (Prices do not include drinks, tax, and gratuity, and some exceptions do apply. Some restaurants exclude discounts on Saturdays and on March 17, which is St. Patrick’s Day.)

“It’s a really great opportunity to try a place that’s maybe out of reach for some people, in terms of affordability,” says organizer Janet Crawshaw of Hudson Valley Table.

For restaurants, it’s a good way to say thanks to repeat customers and hello to new ones. Although foodies who love a good bargain have a lot to gain, during the “week” — which actually runs 14 days — some eateries see a 30-50 percent rise in business, according to Crawshaw. “It gets people buzzing about our local restaurants and food,” she says. This can be quite beneficial to places that don’t advertise much, such as the Beech Tree Grill in Poughkeepsie, a first-year participant. “We’re pretty well-known in the area, so we don’t put out a lot of ads,” says owner Aaron Foglietta. “But it would be great to get our name out there, beyond Poughkeepsie.”

Cathryn'sUnion Restaurant and Bar Latino

Take your pick (clockwise from top left): Cathryn’s in Cold Spring; Union Restaurant & Bar Latino; and The Bird & Bottle Inn

bird and bottle inn

Local farms and suppliers also reap benefits since chefs are encouraged to use Valley meats, cheeses, fruits, and veggies — a big turn-on to the growing number of locavores in the area. Foglietta says that the Beech Tree has been trying to incorporate more regional foods and beverages into its everyday menu and he plans on using locally grown pork and produce during the event. “Not only is the quality of Hudson Valley food much better,” he explains, “but the prices are fair, and more of our customers are looking for it.”

In addition to dining discounts, several hotels, inns, and B&Bs are providing low rates to guests taking advantage of the restaurant deals. This way, Crawshaw explains, people who live further away still have the opportunity to partake of the specials and explore the area. Hyde Park’s Inn the Woods Bed and Breakfast, for example, is offering a consecutive night free for one each reserved; the centrally located B&B is in close proximity to several participating restaurants. Similarly, the Hudson Valley Cabin in Stanfordville has a 10 percent discount off regular rates.

A few places — such as Garrison’s Bird & Bottle Inn and the Hudson House River Inn in Cold Spring — have dine-and-stay options for those who enjoy eating to full-bellied bliss, but don’t want to drive home afterwards. For guests at Crabtree’s Kittle House in Chappaqua, there is a 20.10 percent discount off the usual overnight rates when they both stay and dine there during Restaurant Week.

This growing event provides more than just good eats at great prices; it’s an opportunity to support the businesses and farms in our communities, and gives us one more tasty reason to explore all that the Valley has to offer. So bring your inner food critic and compare a different restaurant each night. Or, for those with pickier palates, check www.hvmag.com for reviews of many of the participating restaurants to see which one might best suit your appetite.

For more information and a full list of participants, visit www.hudsonvalleyrestaurantweek.com.

Bargain Banquets

Take a quick break from the usual brass-and-glass eateries for some discount fine dining

Looking for a fair-priced meal but don’t want to dine in the type of place where road signs, surfboards, and other miscellaneous items crowd the walls? You’re in luck: The Culinary Institute’s Chef’s Select Menus have returned. Enjoy a two-course lunch set at a fixed price of $19.95 or a three-course dinner for $29.95 in any of the CIA’s four restaurants. Taste French fare at the Escoffier Restaurant, authentic Italian cuisine at Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici, American Bounty’s award-winning regional specialities, or sustainable farm-to-table dishes at St. Andrew’s Café.

The school’s 2010 Dining Series runs concurrently, providing an assortment of themed lunches and dinners set at various prices. Included among these events is an eco-conscious way to spend the earlier part of St. Patrick’s Day: Attend “Deep Green Ocean” at the Escoffier on March 17, and you’ll learn about ocean sustainability while enjoying a cerviche and salmon filled pastry, followed by a chocolate marquise dessert with caramel sauce, all for $35.

On March 10, sample an array of Italian specialties at Caterina de’ Medici during “Pasta! Pasta!” For $60, you’ll dine on lasagnetta layered with trout, fennel, and mushrooms; garganelli with radicchio, Parmigiano Reggiano, and balsamic vinegar; duck tortellini; and a dessert of fried ravioli with ricotta and honey.

The prix-fixe menus and special dining events both run through April 1. Reservations are suggested; call 845-471-6608 or visit www.ciachef.edu/restaurants.

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