Clock Tower Grill, Brewster
One of the Hudson Valley’s best new restaurants in 2014
The Clock Tower menu includes a salad of sugar snap peas, arugula, and burrata
Photographs by Roy Gumpel
At first glance, a business park in Brewster might seem like an odd spot for a restaurant, but Rich and Cassie Parente had a good reason for choosing the site to open the Clock Tower Grill. “It has a beautiful courtyard and all the businesses are closed after 5 p.m., so we have the entire half-acre to ourselves,” says Rich. In addition to enabling them to garden and offer patio seating, the extra space allows the Parentes to host seasonal festivals; special dinners like pig roasts and clam bakes; and live music performances.
The food is rooted in fun and inspired by whatever is fresh and good at the local farms. Rich and Cassie have a close relationship with a number of farmers in the area and are regulars at the Muscoot farmers market in Katonah. Says Rich, “It’s important for us to know where our food comes from so we know the story of it and can share that with people.”
The menu changes seasonally but favorites include the tender bourbon-braised short ribs with creamy mashed potatoes and delightfully sweet caramelized carrots. Another winner is the tuna tartar served with sweet chili sauce, tobiko caviar, fresh avocado, and a nutty edamame purée. The restaurant makes its own charcuterie and the Crown Maple house-cured thick-cut bacon is so popular that you can tack a pound or two onto your order to take home.
At left, “chicken-fried” rabbit with waffles, roasted corn, and red-eye gravy; at right, a unique take on bacon and eggs that features house-cured Crown Maple bacon and deviled eggs
Growing up in Dutchess County, Rich always knew he wanted to go to the CIA. In his teens, he landed a job at Hopewell Junction’s Le Chambord, and subsequently made his way to the famed culinary school with the help of his boss and mentor, Chef Lenny. Rich met Cassie when he returned to the area after cooking in the city for a number of years; together, they decided to take the plunge and open their own place. They did the entire build-out themselves with the goal of keeping the environmental footprint as small as possible; they visited auctions and built furniture and light fixtures from upcycled metal and reclaimed wood. “I actually taught myself how to weld — it’s amazing what you can learn on YouTube,” laughs Rich. The result is a mix of rustic and modern styles: There’s a live-edge wooden bar, massive sliding barn doors that can be used to separate spaces, and a wall that features the restaurant’s logo stenciled on mismatched recycled wood boards.
Patrons can choose from 13 rotating craft beer tap lines — the majority are from New York State — and an extensive bourbon list with 30 different options. In the winter, the restaurant hosts monthly dinners highlighting local wines and game, and the occasional outdoor whiskey tasting event in the courtyard complete with propane heaters and an ice luge. “It’s got to be fun,” says Rich, “or why bother doing it?”
The Crowd: Diners are a diverse mix of all ages drawn from Brewster, Danbury, Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties.
Don’t Miss: Chicken-fried rabbit with savory herb waffles and red-eye gravy, and buffalo calamari with crumbled bleu cheese and shaved celery. Try one of the bourbon or local beer flights.
The Basics: Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Friday, dinner Saturday-Sunday. Appetizers $6-$14; entrées $15-$35
If you go...
Clock Tower Grill
512 Clock Tower Dr., Brewster