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Restaurant Review: Farm to Table Bistro in Fishkill, Market Fresh Food and Dining in Dutchess County

Farm fresh: Staying true to its name, a Fishkill bistro delivers a delightful dining experience

BY JENNIFER LEBA

 

smothered chicken dish
ODE TO ORGANIC: “NOBODY GOES OUT AND THINKS, ‘I’M GOING TO ORDER CHICKEN.’ IT NEEDS TO HAVE SOMETHING MORE TO IT,” SAYS O’BRIEN ABOUT HIS POPULAR SMOTHERED CHICKEN DISH (ABOVE), WHICH FEATURES ORGANIC BREAST OF CHICKEN FROM MURRAY FARMS. “NOW IT HAS SOME CHARACTER”PHOTOGRAPHS BY TERESA HORGAN

 

“What’s in a name?” says Chris O’Brien when asked about the decision to call his Fishkill restaurant Farm to Table Bistro. After launching into a brief tangent about how the “two brilliant Jewish restaurateurs” behind Smith & Wollensky named their famed Manhattan steak house by blindly pointing to the phone book, he says simply: “I’ve always done farm to table, and this is a bistro. A bistro can be anything it wants to be, but it should be casual. I call this casual fine dining.”

O’Brien, a self-taught chef, has been in the restaurant business for more than 25 years, most recently at the now-shuttered MoJo Grill Hopewell Junction. “Man, we were doing some great things out there,” he says. “But when I opened there 13 years ago, a lot of people didn’t understand it. I remember one night we threw almost 100 pounds of ceviche away. I had to keep saying, ‘meat and potatoes, meat and potatoes.’ But diners are a little more sophisticated here now, which is good.”

braised ribs chris o'brien, bridget gekakis, claude guermont OWNER CHRIS O’BRIEN CRUISES ALL AROUND THE REGION TO GET THE FRESHEST PRODUCE. “IF I HAVE TO GO TO NORTHERN NEW JERSEY TO GET A SPECIFIC TYPE OF CORN THAT IS GROWN THERE, THEN THAT’S WHERE I’LL GO,” HE SAYS. THE RESTAURANT’S SIGNATURE DRY RUBBED AND BEER BRAISED SHORT RIBS (LEFT) ARE SERVED WITH A SWEET BEER DEMI-GLACE REDUCTION. ABOVE RIGHT: O’BRIEN, HIS CO-OWNER AND FIANCÉE BRIDGET GEKAKIS, AND CHEF CLAUDE GUERMONT (FORMERLY OF POUGHKEEPSIE’S LE PAVILLON)

O’Brien’s latest venture is all about catering to the newly sophisticated, “we want our food super-fresh and super-local” crowd that dominates the dining scene these days. A quick look at the menu makes that perfectly clear: There is cheese from Poughkeepsie’s Sprout Creek Farm, “healthy” bread from the Cohen Sisters of Ellenville, a partnership with the New York Beef Company in LaGrange (only grass-fed meat, of course), and organic chicken from Murray Farms in Sullivan County. “You’ve got to go out and shake hands and get to know the farmers,” says O’Brien.

Of course, local is all well and good, but O’Brien knows it still has to taste great. To that end, he likes to add his own touch, even to classic dishes. One evening my companion and I shared the calamari appetizer. Breaded in panko, the generous pile of squid was cooked to perfection and served with a delectable chipolte aïoli sauce. O’Brien has since added the “a la Frankie” option, which adds banana peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic to the mix. “It’s a big fan favorite,” he says. We also shared a classic Caesar salad and a plate of Prince Edward Island mussels, which were steamed with white wine, shallots, and several spices. Both dishes simply burst with freshness.

For my entrée that evening, I ordered the scallop special. While I love scallops, I sometimes hesitate to order them because of dual fears: there won’t be enough of them, and they’ll be overcooked. I needn’t have worried. The beautifully presented plate arrived with five oversized scallops that were succulent and flavorful. Large servings of bulgur pilaf, which was delightfully nutty, and fresh local snow peas that practically glowed completed the delicious dish. O’Brien later told me that the scallops had been dipped in porcini dust and pan-seared. My companion tackled the “smothered chicken,” one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Sautéed in white wine, roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives, the ample chicken breast (organic, of course) is then finished with soppressata — “from my friends on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx,” says O’Brien — and sharp Provolone. We both agreed that it elevated chicken to an entirely new level.

vegetables

In good, sustainable style, O’Brien mixes up the menu depending on available produce, as well as customer reaction. This winter he has added coquilles Saint Jacques, the classic scallops and mushroom dish, to the regular menu. “It’s the hottest thing we have right now,” he says. One thing he will never take off the menu is the beer braised short ribs. “We take short ribs, we dry rub them, we pan-sear them,” says O’Brien, explaining a long process that involves cooking the ribs for six hours at 200 degrees and finally serving them with a one-of-a-kind molasses sauce. “I experimented with this for years,” he says.“It’s a lot of work, but we do a fabulous job.”

O’Brien’s desire to do something different is also evident in the inviting space he’s created. The quirky front bar room is chock-full of fun decorations, including a real wooden windmill mounted on the wall. The bar, the rafters, and almost all of the tables were made by hand from wood from a barn that O’Brien noticed while driving around Coxsackie, and bought on the spot. “I knocked on [the owner’s] door and told him I had $5,000 in my pocket,” says O’Brien. The main dining room is also attractive, but of particular note is the wine room, also known as the library: A large table with 10 seats is surrounded by “$80,000 worth of wine” on wheeled racks and a large collection of classic books, including some valuable first editions. The space is available for private parties.

wine room bistro areaBIBLIOPHILES DELIGHT: BOTH THE WINE ROOM (LEFT) AND THE BISTRO AREA (ABOVE) ARE CHOCK-FULL OF BOOKS, INCLUDING SOME VALUABLE FIRST EDITIONS. “A FRIEND ASKED ME IF I’D LIKE TO STORE HIS LIBRARY,” SAYS O’BRIEN. “THERE ARE BOOKS FROM THE 1700S”

A popular bar scene has sprung up here; there is live music every Friday and Saturday night, and they are known for their creative cocktails, including the Dragonfruit Mojito and the ever-popular Ginger Lemon Drop, although signature drinks do change weekly. Still, O’Brien says that 75 percent of what they serve is wine. “I go to Europe every summer and spend most of my time in the vineyards. Last year Provence, this summer Spain.”

Next up, O’Brien is building an outdoor seating area in the front of the restaurant — and a bier garden in the back. “It’s going to be funky, it’s going to be fun,” says O’Brien — who is also a partner in the newly reopened Woody’s Farm to Table Restaurant in Cornwall. “There is a lot going on,” he says. “We are out here trying to create things that are a little different.”

Farm to Table Bistro Lunch and dinner daily. Appetizers/small plates $8-$16, entrées $14-$25, desserts $6-$12

» Visit Farm to Table Bistro in Fishkill, NY » Go to ftbistro.com
» Go to the Hudson Valley Restaurants Guide
» Go to the Hudson Valley Food & Drink Guide

Daily Specials

SPECIALS

Monday November 18th

 
 

Enjoy a lovely wine special

If you love a Pinot Grigio or Soave, Verdichio, from the Provence of Marche is right in your wheelhouse. A small artisan vineyard is run by two brothers, Giordano & Giacomo Mattioli.

This wine “Ylice”, an ancient white grape varietal is elegant on the nose, fresh, fruity with hints of peaches on the finish. Glass $10 Bottle $36 Cheers!

 
 

Oyster Report

Blue Points2.25 ea Norwalk, Connecticut

Medium Salt with a pleasant mineral finish

 
 

Oyster Kilpatrick 15

Long Island Sound oysters (6) baked on the half shell with “down under” sauce of Worcestershire

and BBQ, shallots, bacon and gruyere cheese

 
 

Soup du Jour

New England Clam Chowda’ 7

Roasted Butternut Squash 6

 
 

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad 14

Pancetta, dried cranberries,

balsamic reduction and parmesan cheese

 
 

Large Plates

Grilled Spicy Asian Jumbo Shrimp

Served over a cool cconut quinoa, dried papaya, pecans with c coconut curry dressing and splash of Mae Ploy

 
 

New Butt-er Steak Teriyaki 22

Tender, defatted, sweet steak. We demo’d these at

our house with guests on Sunday, some said best steak they ever had! Choice of two sides.

 
 

Sea Scallops with Jalapeno Vinaigrette 28

Pan seared with sea salt and hint of cayenne,

orange segments, jalapeno vin drizzle. Sweet, spicy, salty and tangy gets umami!

 
 

It’s back for Fall Braised Pork Osso Buco 28

In a light porcini mushroom sauce with roasted squash,

zucchini, red onion, sweet orange cous cous, yum!

 
 

Korean BBQ Rack of Lamb 32

This is amazing, full rack, 24-hour marinade, char grilled, it’s sweet and spicy served over Asian slaw

 
 

 
 

Save room for a sweet treat!

Cathy’s Pumpkin Roll 8

With Cream Cheese Frosting and a hint of Orange Zest

          

New York Times Review – Farm to Table Bistro

No False Advertising Here
A Review of Farm to Table Bistro, in Fishkill

By EMILY DeNITTO
Published: June 14, 2013

The name says it all. But even if you didn’t know what Farm to Table Bistro was called, you could see immediately that this Fishkill restaurant fits right into the movement for locally sourced eating.

Huge apple bins filled with flowers line the entrance while a vintage tractor sits sentinel, welcoming guests. Inside, the quirky and charming décor includes an authentic wooden windmill mounted high on a wall. And the menu proudly lists the nearby origins of Farm to Table’s mostly organic fare: fruits and vegetables from Taliaferro Farms and Meadowbrook Farms, cheese from Sprout Creek Farm, bread from the All You Knead bakery.

Diners are increasingly used to the pleasures of fresh produce, but few restaurants offer additive- and nitrate-free poultry, meat and fish. Farm to Table does, and the results are impressive. A special of whole rainbow trout stuffed with clams, mussels, oysters and herbs, and pan-roasted in a butter sauce, tasted as if it had just been plucked from a stream out back. On another night, the rib-eye special was a lesson in the appeal of grass-fed beef raised without antibiotics. The steak, from a farm in nearby LaGrange, was darker and cut a bit thinner than you usually see, and the flavor was so rich it startled my companion. “This almost tastes weird,” he said, when he took his first bite. By the end of the meal, he was a convert.

The restaurant’s kitchen, led by Claude Guermont, a French chef, doesn’t just rely on good ingredients, it comes up with wonderful taste combinations. An already phenomenal crispy pork belly appetizer, a special, was raised several levels by a fresh cherry jam. Pork and duck pâté, another special, came with house-pickled hot peppers and carrots, a grainy mustard and lovely little cornichons. Steamed clams in white wine and garlic got a bracing kick from delicious homemade chorizo.

The escargots are prepared with Pernod for a slight spin on the classic, and the outstanding baby back ribs are dry-rubbed with spices, slow-smoked for hours, steamed with pineapple juice and finished on the grill. A good homemade barbecue sauce came on the side, but the meat was so delicious on its own that I barely sampled the sauce. The chicken breast, sautéed in white wine and garlic, also has kalamata olives, thin soppressata and provolone, giving it a briny bite.

Even the drinks and desserts include the unexpected. Whole litchis gave the sangria a perfumed sweetness. Puréed mango tempered the salty rim of a margarita. And the chocolate peanut butter tart was creamy but somehow also light and airy.

There are occasional missteps, like a pan-seared salmon that arrived underdone without any caramelization, and a cup of tasty but lukewarm coffee.

Still, most of the food is so thoughtfully put together, and the space itself is so intriguing, that it is clear that Chris O’Brien and Bridget Gekakis, the owners, and their staff are excited by what they do. One section of the dining room looks a bit like a library, its walls lined with interesting books — classic literature and a first edition of John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage,” for example. Beyond that are the bathrooms (two for women, one for men; a nice touch). You can glimpse the kitchen through an opening as you go by. Both nights I visited there was a beautiful bouquet sitting on a prep table.

The flowers might be there for diners to enjoy in case they happen to spy them. But I like the idea that the restaurant wants to inspire its cooks with a little natural beauty. Just as the blooms were carefully picked and lovingly arranged, Farm to Table’s kitchen is taking nature’s bounty and creating something memorable.

Farm to Table Bistro

1083 Route 9 (Lawrence Farms Market Square)
Fishkill
(845) 297-1111

ftbistro.com

VERY GOOD

THE SPACE A quirky, comfortable dining room decorated with farm equipment, wine corks and plenty of books. A private room is available for wine tastings and other events. Some sidewalk seating with more on the way. Wheelchair accessible.

THE CROWD Casual, mostly adult. Servers are attentive and fairly knowledgeable.

THE BAR Set in a generous room of its own with several tables and the semiopen kitchen in the back. A varied wine list of well over 100 choices mainly from Italy, France and California ($24 to $160 a bottle, $7 to $16 a glass). Good mixed and specialty drinks, including martinis (around $10) and a nice sangria, served with whole litchis ($8).

THE BILL Entrees from $21 to $30. Major credit cards accepted.

WHAT WE LIKED Steamed clams, roasted stuffed red pepper, lobster roll, baby arugula salad, crispy pork belly (special), pork and duck pâté (special); baby back ribs, stuffed whole rainbow trout (special), rib-eye (special), Asian beef medallions, chicken breast sautéed in wine and olives; coconut panna cotta with raspberry purée, crème brûlée, cinnamon raisin bread pudding, chocolate peanut butter tart.

IF YOU GO Open Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Tuesday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations recommended on weekends. Free parking available on site.

RATINGS Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.

HVRW Spring 2013: Farm to Table Bistro, Fishkill

Grilled Center Cut Pork Chop

 

For the husband and I, Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (HVRW) was multi-purposed; we’d use it as an excuse to schedule some much needed date time, we’d try out new restaurants – and – we’d participate in the HVRW Scavenger Hunt! Today we had our first lunch and first ‘hunt’.

When deciding we’d try restaurants we haven’t been to before, we also decided we’d step out of our normal geographic realm.  So our first hunt took place at the Farm to Table Bistro in Fishkill. The outside  (in a strip mall) does not speak to the cozy, welcoming setting inside with walls covered in old wine crates and tables hand-made by the owners from reclaimed wood.  We ordered straight from the Restaurant Week menu and had a very enjoyable meal with the added fun of ‘scoring points’.

For our First Course, we each had the Organic Baby Arugula Salad (arugula from Ober Creek Farm—50 points :) ) which was topped with a very good goat cheese from Sprout Creek Farm (another 50 points), plumped cranberries and a vanilla bean vinaigrette—a very refreshing, well balanced salad.

Photo of the salad (another 50 points—this hunt is off to a good start!)

For entrees my husband had the Grilled Center Cut Pork Chop which he hadn’t ordered in a restaurant before (50 points). The pork came from Burker and was served with cheddar-bacon grits, sauteed broccoli crowns and a country gravy that (I’m told) was quite good.  I went with the Borgatti’s Ricotta Ravioli served with Ober Creek Farms Winter Greens (ch-ching 50 more points—I have to say, the scavenger hunt really added a fun element to our meal) in a brown butter sauce.  Brown butter sauce – what can possibly be said about that besides – yum!

Dessert was an Apple Strudel finished with local Maple Syrup infused Ice Cream (50 points) for the husband and a Blueberry Pie with Crème de Cassis infused Crème FraÎche.

So, aside from a very good meal and a lovely lunch date – we definitely had fun with the Restaurant Week Scavenger Hunt.  Can’t wait to try to beat our score in the next ‘hunt’!

Total: 300 points!

The 411 on Farm to Table Bistro:1083 Route 9, Lawrence Farms Market Square, Fishkill. 845-297-1111, http://www.ftbistro.com/