The DeBruce provides an unforgettable dining experience to its guests, plus an opportunity to relax and reconnect with nature.
Photos by Laurence Braun
At The DeBruce, the dinner menu comes printed with the date. To reflect any updates in the nine-course tasting menu? Sure. But it’s also a subtle hint that you’re going to want to remember the day you ate the forthcoming meal.
Panoramic windows overlooking the Willowemoc Creek and nearby mountain enclose the intimate dining room of two- and four-seat tables, most of which allow diners a peek into the kitchen, where Executive Chef Aksel Theilkuhl, Chef de Cuisine R.J. Corley, and their team emphasize storytelling.
Take, for instance, the chopped chicken liver. Adapted from Jennie Grossinger’s The Art of Jewish Cooking, the dish serves as an homage to the now-forgotten Catskill resorts that served as vacationland for Jews when they were still not welcome in “prestigious” hotels.
Prepared tableside, The DeBruce’s version swaps schmaltz for foie gras drippings, mixes in chicken livers, onions, and hard-boiled eggs to form a schmear, and then spreads it atop a house-made sourdough with apple butter. Served on an antique porcelain plate, it’s a trip back in time, a balance of depth and simplicity, and an experience not soon to be forgotten.
What to Do Nearby
It’s the kind of dish you’d expect to see on an episode of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, not at a secluded hotel bordering 600 acres of forest.
Yet those 600 acres prove integral to the hotel’s operation. The kitchen staff regularly forages for ingredients like chaga mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, and ramps, among others. On weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day, guests can even accompany Theilkuhl on these excursions.
The DeBruce is the latest from Sims and Kirsten Foster, founders of Foster Supply Hospitality. Sims, a Livingston Manor native, had been working in New York City hospitality for more than a decade when he recognized the need for revitalization back home. In 2014, the couple launched The Arnold House and has followed with a new Sullivan County property almost every year (another property and a standalone restaurant are planned to open this year).
“We’re just trying to tell the story of the people who were here before us, and the story of the mountain itself.”
—Chef de Cuisine, R.J. Corley
Most visitors come for the food — Esquire’s Food and Drinks Editor Jeff Gordinier selected The DeBruce as one of the Best New Restaurants in America, 2018. Outside of the dining room though, guests are encouraged to explore ever-expanding hiking trails (bring the pup — they’re pet friendly), kayak and fly-fish on the river, or ice skate in the wintertime. Just looking to make progress on your reading list? Grab a cocktail and curl up poolside. At The DeBruce, how you unwind isn’t important, so long as you’re back in time for dinner.