There’s a cornucopia of culinary bargains to be found in the Valley, and we’re here to help you track them down
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184 Main St., Cold Spring
The deal: $10.95 midweek specials
If you come into my bar — well, I hate to say it’s like Cheers, but everyone knows everyone,” says Bill Sohan, who opened Whistling Willie’s in 2007 in the spot that used to be Henry’s on the Hudson. Sohan brightened up the interior, tore out the sushi bar and added a “listening room,” where singer/songwriters perform on Thursdays. Henry’s ex-chef, Johnny Cortez, who’s also done stints at the Garrison and Silo Ridge in Amenia, mans the stove. “He’s an outstanding chef,” announces Sohan. “And he makes a mean soup — a different soup every day.”
Cortez’s menu covers all the grill basics and adds a few flourishes like ahi tuna and pan-roasted duck in Madeira sauce. A range of burgers — each 12 ounces, about 12 bucks at dinner, and “pure heaven” according to the menu — include veggie and turkey options.
Sohan says he set out to please the locals, “as evidenced by my happy hour and weekly specials.” Happy hour actually runs from 4 until 7 p.m., with tap beers and all appetizers half price (the chicken quesadilla and Tuna Tar Tar are favorites).
But those $10.95 midweek specials are the real crowd-pleasers. On Tuesday, it’s a chicken dinner, perhaps chicken stuffed with asparagus, smoked gouda and sun-dried tomatoes. (“Outstanding,” votes Sohan.) Wednesday, it’s the 12-ounce grilled rib-eye that usually goes for $22.95. (“We almost always sell out.”) And Thursday is pasta night, when you can choose any of the pasta dishes on the menu.
Sohan, who was a banker before launching an Italian restaurant in Fishkill, retired in 2005, discovered “it’s not what it’s cracked up to be,” and came out of retirement again to open Whistling Willie’s, named after his grandfather. Enthusiastic as he is about the fare, Sohan seems equally keen on the music he presents — the “listening room” singers, the performers in the restaurant on weekends, and even the amateurs who come for Wednesday night’s open mike. “A tremendous amount of talent comes through those doors,” he says. “If you play an instrument, please come in.”
» Next stop: Cheryl’s Fried Fish & Soul Food, Middletown