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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The place to be: A lively crowd fills Poughkeepsie’s Bull & Buddha on a recent Friday
When the Asian-fusion restaurant Bull & Buddha opened on Poughkeepsie’s Main Street last fall, droves of young professionals appeared from who knows where to nibble on small plates in the SoHo-esque lounge, or sip cocktails at the backlit honey onyx bar, where the namesake two-ton Buddha presides over the creative mixology. Those in the mood for something more substantial — Japanese-accented steaks, Korean BBQ ribs and such — head to the sleek dining room in back (where the average age skews a little higher). Sushi fans can perch at another glowing onyx bar in the hallway between the two main spaces and watch their morsels being prepared in front of a dramatic, cascading wall of water.
It’s chic, it’s hip, it’s hot, it’s happening. Evidently, price was no obstacle in refurbishing the onetime clothing store — the setting was designed to impress, although, as owner Alex Libin says, “without hitting you over the head.” Opinions differ about the cuisine (see review in our Jan. 2011 issue), but judging from comments posted online, that’s not the main attraction anyway. Rather, it’s the exciting, see-and-be-seen atmosphere.
Bull & Buddha’s night-club vibe ramped up on New Year’s Eve, when Orient, an actual night club connected to the restaurant, had its “soft” opening on the second floor. “It was an incredible night,” reports Kevin Swenson, Orient’s young and “awesome manager,” as Libin describes him. “We expected about 100 people and got a force of 200. We had good expectations and it went above and beyond.” Since then, he reports: “We are packed.”
“Packed” is something, given that the space is about 4,000 square feet. It’s as deluxe as the restaurant downstairs. Bands play at one end of the main room, and there’s a bar at the other; an exotic beaded-curtain tent (complete with chandelier) occupies the middle, surrounded by tables. There are private, VIP rooms. “The idea was to create a lounge feel,” says Swenson, “so there’s no defined dance floor. What ended up happening is that people just dance everywhere.”
About 30 percent of the crowd comes up from the restaurant, Swenson says. “A lot of people enjoy the mellow, soft atmosphere downstairs, and then we have the energetic, cocktail environment upstairs.” If you need a nibble during night-club hours, you can go down to the restaurant for sushi and small plates, which are served until 1 a.m.
Open daily for lunch and dinner; until 8 p.m. on Sunday. Orient is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 p.m. until the small hours, with no cover.