Wm. Farmer and Sons, Hudson
Charming meets chic in an 1830s inn with a contemporary flair
Chef Kirby Farmer’s Southern roots are evident in dishes like fried Alabama catfish and skillet cornbread. After the meal, guests can opt to spend the night in a well-appointed room at the adjacent inn
Photographs by Escape Brooklyn
When was the last time you saw real working gaslights in front of a building? At Wm. Farmer and Sons in Hudson, this is just one of the many telling touches that transport you to another time.
Modestly described by owners William Kirby Farmer and Kristan Keck as “boarding and barroom,” this ain’t no flophouse, but a destination restaurant connected to an offbeat 11-room inn, where traditional Americana is juxtaposed with contemporary touches like groovy shag pillows and flat-screen TVs.
The couple, who have been weekending here since 2008, bought the 1830s building in 2013. At the time, it had been converted to a boarding house, and the restaurant was vacant. They ran the guesthouse for two seasons, then closed down in the fall of 2014 for a full-scale renovation, reopening last May with a 70-seat dining room and a bar. Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday (selections range from $6 to $36) in a warm space that changes throughout the day. Sunlight floods in during the afternoon. By evening, those gas lanterns that wrap the building are lit, casting a soft glow. The décor is a quirky mix of rustic meets modern, heavy on the exposed brick and wood. Dining room chairs salvaged from a naval academy dining hall have schoolroom appeal, with built-in bottom shelves where cadets tucked their hats while eating.
Farmer (aka Kirby), a CIA grad, pays homage to his Midwestern and Southern roots. And that means plenty o’ pork. His signature starter dish, the country ham board, comes complete with down-home buttermilk biscuits, tupelo honey butter, bread and butter pickles, and sweet potato jam. The classic French frisée salad goes American with the addition of pork belly (a boneless cut that’s more intensely flavored than ordinary bacon), combined with soft-ripened Cambozola cheese, grapefruit, and sweet shallot vinaigrette. And on the main menu, smoked pork shank comes with stone-ground grits, apple salsa verde, and chicharrónes (fried pork rinds).
If you’re not into pork, there are many other options besides. Light-and-airy shaved Brussels sprouts with Parmigiano Reggiano, Meyer lemon, and bonito flakes is a tasty starter. A crispy confit of Hudson Valley duck served with white beans makes a satisfying meal. One dish that’s been in demand since they opened is the cast-iron burger, playfully presented on a cutting board with a monogrammed wooden skewer and a side of paper-wrapped hand-cut fries.
Some patrons make a beeline to the bar, a cocktail lover’s heaven that shakes and stirs classics like the Old Fashioned and ominous-sounding creations like Penicillin, a “medicinal” drink of lemon juice, honey, and ginger.
At evening’s end, savvy guests who were prescient enough to book a room here can flop into a four-poster and call it a night. And the next morning, after they wake up to a view of the Catskills or the Hudson (depending on room choice), they get their caffeine fix at Mercantile, the in-house coffee shop and barroom that serves brews from Millerton-based Irving Farm Coffee Roasters. There’s even a private back patio where you can repair to read an actual newspaper. Talk about stepping back in time!