Best New Restaurants

New restaurants pop up throughout the Hudson Valley all the time. (Although the economy has certainly slowed that trend a bit.) But which ones are really worth a special trip? From an Italian trattoria to a swank hotel hot spot, these seven outstanding eateries, all of which have opened in the last two years, are not to be missed. So make your reservations — and get ready to enjoy a dynamic dining experience



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The everything-bagel crusted salmon makes for a colorful dish

Photographs by Teresa Horgan

Bungalow, Croton Falls

Rather than provide elaborate menu explanations, Bungalow chef-owner John Reynolds describes his dishes in Zen-like fashion. “Tartare tuna and salmon, ponzu-sesame oil, wasabi dressing on wonton crisps,” for example, is a listing bound to spark a diner’s imagination, bewitching the palate even before the food arrives. “Part of the challenge is, how do I captivate what’s interesting in the dish without making it overwhelming,” he says. “I’m looking for what’s harmonious rather than what could clash.”

Bungalow — in Reynolds’ words, a “warm, comfortable, mid- to upper-scale, family-friendly place” in the Westchester hamlet of Croton Falls — celebrates its one-year anniversary this month. Why Croton Falls? “A lot of reasons,” explains the chef. “I’ve lived in nearby North Salem for eight years. When I went to buy my own place, I wanted to cater to a demographic that I’m familiar with.” That demographic would be similar to those found at Willy Nicks in Katonah, the Hudson House in Nyack, and Raoul’s in New York City — all kitchens where Reynolds honed his culinary skills. But he’s quick to point out that he wants Bungalow to be a “neighborhood place — not just where you think to come for an anniversary or birthday.”


Reynolds also includes California-style tapas among his offerings

Mission statement: Bungalow’s Arts & Crafts-inspired dining room

 Both Reynolds and his wife Banu are fans of the Arts & Crafts movement, the early 20th-century aesthetic that championed hand-crafted products with clean, simple lines. Physically, Bungalow reflects this style: the décor in the 50-seat dining room is dominated by natural fabrics and an abundance of wood, much of it in deep, rich tones.

Using local, seasonal ingredients whenever possible is one of Reynolds’ objectives. Rich foods (Brie baked in puff pastry) are paired with elemental ones (seasonal berries and wheat crackers). The Lower East Side meets the Far East in the “everything-bagel crusted salmon,” which mixes everyday spices with panko breadcrumbs, forming a crunchy coating. This fall’s menu includes Long Island duck served three ways (Asian-spiced confit, breast meat rillette, and frisée salad topped with duck skin crackling). Prime-grade sirloin tournedos come bathed in a mushroom and caramelized onion demi-glace, and are plated with bacon and Gorgonzola mashed potatoes. For dessert, the ever-popular figgy pudding — a rich, dense cake made with figs, and topped with caramel and Devon cream — is a house favorite

The 50-seat restaurant was once a private home

The small but expanding wine list includes well-chosen vintages from France and California as well as Australia and Chile, with a strong selection of offerings by the glass. You can bring your own as well, and have it uncorked by the wait staff for a $15 fee.

Overall, the dining public has responded “very well” to his new venture, says Reynolds — who admits he “changes light bulbs and washes dishes” as well as prepares the food. “It’s truly a labor of love.”

Bungalow. 166 Stoneleigh Ave., Croton Falls. 845-669-8533, www.bungalow166.com

 

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