Where to Eat in the Hudson Valley
Foodies of all types have discovered the Valley and its wide variety of top-flight restaurants. One chef even predicts we’ll soon be vying with California’s Napa Valley as a dining destination. Find out what all the buzz is about with these profiles of local eateries
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Culinary comfort: Fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, and the Boitson burger with fries
Buzzing American Bistro
Half the fun of eating at Boitson’s is the happy-hour vibe that permeates the place even during hours not officially designated to be happy. In neighborhood bistro style, it’s a casual, easygoing spot where you’ll see everyone from the nose-stud set to local suits, blue collar workers, and chic weekenders, all settling in at the marble-topped tables or sipping a cocktail beneath the leaded-glass “Lubrication” sign hanging over the bar.
Much of the cheerful mood comes from the setting itself, in one of Kingston’s atmospheric, century-old storefronts. Owner Maria Phillipis designed the interior, keeping the exposed brick and pressed-tin ceiling in the long, narrow space, and adding a cork floor. Banquettes and a row of tables along one wall face the “Lubrication” station on the other. When it’s warm, you can eat on the deck in back, with its distant view of the Catskills.
From left: Executive Chef Kris Roberts at the stove; Manager (and bartender) Seth Allen prepares a cocktail
A new chef, Kris Roberts, continues to cook the original roster of American bistro comfort food, “but he’s brought it up a notch,” Phillipis remarks. The menu mixes French bistro classics (escargots, steak frites) with Southern standards (fried chicken, biscuits, and gravy) and crowd pleasers like mac and cheese, buffalo wings, and burgers. “Our burger’s a killer,” Phillipis adds. “It’s a blend of short rib and brisket that we have specially ground for us. It comes on a brioche with caramelized onions and hand-cut fries. Kris has perfected the fries, too.” Specials might be something dressier — like pan-seared duck breast — or a reflection of the season. One winter offering was pot-roasted beef brisket with horseradish mustard and stewed red potatoes, reports Phillipis. “It’s probably the best brisket I’ve ever had. It’s a recipe Kris got from a 90-year-old man up in Hunter, and it’s a secret. He won’t share.” The raw bar is also a big draw. Chocolate espresso pot de creme has become the favorite dessert, although peach cobbler and bread pudding are contenders.
Regulars often sit at the bar and lubricate via a Pimm’s cup, or a cocktail named for a New York City borough. Loyal locals can go for the Kingston (made with honey vodka, lime, and mint syrup), or choose from a list of New York State wines and beers. Prices are affordable, with entrées topping out at $23.
Phillipis, who has worked in local eateries on and off since graduating from SUNY New Paltz, opened the bistro last June. It was the fulfillment of a dream that her onetime Brooklyn landlord helped her to realize, not only by encouraging her, but by leaving her some money when he died. She honored her benefactor, Mr. Boitson, by naming her eatery after him. A more whimsical tribute can be found in the bathrooms: frescoes inspired by sailors’ tattoos, in memory of Mr. Boitson’s time in the navy.