Category: News

Farm to Table Bistro receives 2015 New York State of Mind Award

On July 30th, Farm to Table Bistro was awarded a New York State of Mind Award (EAT NY category) from the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Rochester, NY. The New York State of Mind Awards are honored in four categories: EAT NY, DRINK NY, GROW NY, LOVE NY.

Honorees are as follows:

EAT NY AWARD DRINK NY AWARD GROW NY AWARD LOVE NY AWARD

​Farm to Table Bistro – Fishkill, NY

Black Bird Cider Works – Barker, NY  Brown’s Berry Patch – Waterport, NY Dutchess County Tourism – Poughkeepsie, NY 

Fifth Season – Port Jefferson, NY

Finger Lakes Distilling – Burdett, NY  Dutch Hollow Farm – Schodack Landing, NY K&M Hospitality (Frank Burns, CEO) – Albany, NY

Jewel – Melville, NY

Fox Run Vineyards – Penn Yan, NY  Schmitt Farms – Riverhead, NY Sandra Prokop, Managing Director of NYS Farm Bureau 

 

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A Toast to the Animals

Farm to Table Bistro is proud to be a part of this great event, supporting the Dutchess County SPCA. We hope to see you at Obercreek Farm on September 13!

a-toast-to-the-animals

3 Hudson Valley Farm-to-Table Restaurants We Love Right Now

Local farmers and chefs are forming relationships that blur the line between their usual roles. The result? Fabulously fresh food for lucky diners

 

The Huguenot prepares grilled green asparagus with creamy chorizo dressing and a crispy breaded duck egg from Karl Family Farms

The Huguenot prepares grilled green asparagus with creamy chorizo dressing and a crispy breaded duck egg from Karl Family Farms

PHOTOGRAPHS BY TERESA HORGAN

It’s dinnertime at The Huguenot, and orders for the pasture-raised fried chicken — a Sunday night special — are pouring into the kitchen with impressive speed. Executive Chef Nate Snow ducks out of the din to make a quick call for reinforcements. Minutes later, farmer Kris Karl rolls into the restaurant in his overalls, smelling faintly of manure and hay. But he’s got the goods — a handful of freshly slaughtered chickens. A farmer right in the restaurant? Welcome to the new face of farm-to-table dining.

The Hudson Valley has long been the hub of the rapidly growing farm-to-table movement that has taken root across the nation. The movement has been spurred on both by the awareness of the negative ramifications of how our food is grown, as well as the discovery by the masses of the intense pleasure of eating fresh, locally grown food that actually tastes good. In fact, farm-to-table has become so common that it has outgrown its “trend” status. Nowadays, any chef worth his or her salt is trying to source fresh, local food.

the huguenot

PATRONS LOVE THE HUGUENOT’S BEEF TARTARE, SERVED WITH LEMON, CAPERS, A CURED FARM EGG YOLK, AND GRILLED BREAD BAKED AT A TAVOLA

What’s new is that more and more restaurateurs and farmers are forming close partnerships that benefit both parties by providing a steady market for fresh, local foods. Fittingly, the idea for the Huguenot — a new farm-to-table restaurant that opened this February on Main Street in New Paltz — began with chickens. Karl of the Karl Family Farms in Modena first got to know chef-owners Nate and Bonnie Snow while making weekly deliveries of his pasture-raised birds to A Tavola, the Snow’s award-winning Italian restaurant located right across the street. Impressed by the their obvious reverence for good food raised right, Karl approached the couple with the idea of forming a partnership.

“My ideal consumer is someone who cares about the food and prepares it with as much passion as I put into raising it,” says Karl. “And I saw that same passion in Nate and Bonnie and the rest of the staff at A Tavola. So when the spot opened up, I thought, ‘Hey, that might be a good little project to get into together.’ ”

The resulting restaurant has already gained a loyal following. Although the menu is designed to showcase the pasture-raised meat and eggs from the farm down the road, there is plenty to entice pescatarians and vegetarians, too. For example, the seasonal vegetable tart highlights whatever is fresh at the moment; perfectly grilled wild salmon is accompanied by a hauntingly good combination of melted fennel, leeks, navy beans, coconut broth, orange, and watercress.

The Huguenot’s “farm chic” decor is both sophisticated and rustic: Glassware sparkles in the low light; a mix of vintage mirrors lines the dark walls; and an array of soulful-looking, taxidermied animal heads look on from above. All of the animal heads come from the Karls’ farmhouse, including a wild boar Karl hunted down in Florida where it had been decimating a farmer’s crops.

chicken two ways huguenot staff

CHICKEN TWO WAYS (LEFT) INCLUDES GRILLED BREAST, CONFIT LEG, ROASTED BABY CARROTS, FINGERLING POTATOES, HERBS, CHARRED LEMON, AND JUS. AT RIGHT, THE HUGUENOT’S TEAM (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT): CHEF NATHAN SNOW, FARMER KRIS KARL, CHEF BONNIE SNOW, AND MANAGER DEREK WILLIAMS

Almost all of the vegetables (tomatoes, kale, spinach, corn, herbs, and others) and a good deal of the pasture-raised poultry, pork, goat, ducks, and 100 percent grass-fed lamb and beef produced on the 175-acre farm — go straight to the restaurant. Sous Chef Sarah Sullivan joins Karl and his cousin at the farm to assist in processing the chickens, then turns right around and heads back to the restaurant to prepare the birds she’s helped butcher. “It’s very hands-on. She gets to meet the chicken, process the chicken, cook it, and serve it,” says Nate Snow. “It’s a cool thing that helps keep it all connected.”

Luckily for the folks at the Huguenot, the farm is located just six miles down the road, a privilege Snow says they try not to abuse. “We’re working on not calling Kris all the time so he doesn’t have to constantly drive back and forth from his farm to the restaurant,” he says.

To ensure that diners always get the best of the local bounty, the Huguenot also draws from a variety of other local purveyors, including Big Little Farm, Tweefontein Herb Farm, and Huguenot Street Farm in New Paltz.

“We write the menu based on what the local farms are offering. Doing it this way not only ensures the best food, it also gives us a chance to be creative, rather than just cooking the same thing every day,” says Snow. “Right now there’s asparagus popping up and the ducks are laying so we have asparagus with a roasted duck egg and a creamy chorizo vinaigrette made from the pigs at the farm.”

The benefits of such a partnership are myriad. Small farms get the steady support they need to survive and thrive, keeping farmland safe from development. Animals are raised more humanely. Chefs get the super fresh, high-quality produce and meats they need to turn out top-notch fare that keeps diners coming back for more. Diners get to munch on delicious food they can feel good about. Local economies get a boost. Fuel is conserved and dangerous carbon pollution is avoided. A win-win-win-win-win-win-win…

“We’re just happy to play a role in bringing people into better touch with their food,” says Karl.

The Huguenot
Dinner Wed.-Sun.
Salads & appetizers $8-$14; entrées $16-$27
36 Main St., New Paltz. 845-255-5558; www.thehuguenot.com

grazin

FRESH EATS: GRAZIN’ IS LOCATED ON HUDSON’S WARREN STREET

Of course, Karl isn’t the only farmer who’s “taken the bull by the horns” in creating a local market for his grass-fed meats. Dan Gibson, owner and operator of Grazin’ Angus Acres farm in Ghent, did just that in the fall of 2011 when he opened Grazin’ in Hudson just seven miles from his farm. “We sell a lot of our stuff at the Greenmarket in the city, but I was very frustrated by my inability to get traction here in Columbia County so I decided to open my own damn restaurant,” says Gibson. “I’m an impatient guy!”

Gibson started farming in 2002, after 9/11 made him reconsider his life as an executive in the city. Inspired by Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book on creating the perfect meal, he became passionate about this new approach to growing and eating food.

Gibson describes the diner as an organic burger joint featuring the fresh, 100 percent grass-fed beef from his farm. “Our most popular burger is the Uncle Dude — a six-ounce burger topped with house-made chipotle mayo, jalapeño relish, a slice of Hudson Valley cheddar, bacon from the farm, garden greens, and tomato — if it’s in season.”

The menu, however, shows considerable sophistication — with special entrées like savory granola-encrusted venison tenderloin served with confit onions, potato purée, and a red wine-dark chocolate reduction; or a grilled smoked pork chop with mustard-ramp sauce served over a potato pancake with a dollop of chive quark and green salad.

Grazin’ is a certified Animal Welfare Approved restaurant — the only one in the country — a distinction that Gibson takes very seriously. This means that all the animal products used by the restaurant must meet rigorous standards that ensure the animals have had the space, setting, and care needed to live their lives as naturally as possible. “I love that as the restaurant expands, we’re able to convince more farms to become Animal Welfare Approved because we’re happy to pay them more than anyone else will for beef, pork, and dairy that is done right,” says Gibson. “Our biggest challenge lately is finding enough AWA dairy. Some weeks we can’t serve ice cream at the restaurant because we only have enough milk and cream to make butter.”

Grazin’ uses only local suppliers, including Hawthorne Valley Farm in Philmont and the Farm at Miller’s Crossing in Hudson. Most of the ingredients travel less than 11 miles to reach diners’ plates. Says Gibson, “We want to make sure that everyone who comes to this restaurant gets it — that this is part of something that is different, fun, and special.”

Grazin’
Lunch & dinner Thurs., Fri. & Mon.; all meals Sat.-Sun.
Soups & salads $4-$9; entrées $10-$17
717 Warren St., Hudson. 518-822-9323; www.grazindiner.com

farm to table bistro

THE INTERIOR AT FARM TO TABLE BISTRO EXUDES A COUNTRY-CHIC VIBE

Further south in Fishkill, Farm to Table Bistro’s menu proudly shares the provenance of its mostly organic, locally sourced food — apples from Meadowbrook Farms in Wappingers Falls, bread from the Famous Cohen Sisters in Ellenville, cheese from Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie, veggies from Taliaferro Farms in New Paltz, and beef from New York Beef Company in LaGrange.

The food is typical American, inspired by whatever is fresh at the local farms. Co-owner Chris O’Brien, a veteran restaurateur whose easy, jocular style has caused more than one diner to remark that he’d make a perfect game show host, says, “Some of our food can be considered fine dining and some of it can be considered down and dirty. We’ve got a smoker out back and we smoke our own meats and fish.” The restaurant’s signature dish is the dry-rubbed, beer-braised short ribs served in a molasses-like sweet beer demi-glace reduction that O’Brien calls “out of this world.”

And food is not the only thing that’s locally sourced; O’Brien crafted the big bar and tables in the restaurant using wood from an old barn outside Coxsackie that he helped take down. The result is homey and appealingly eclectic. An outdoor patio area opened in May, and the restaurant has live music on Friday and Saturday nights that draws a lively crowd for drinks and more.

Cross-pollination seems a fitting metaphor for this new generation of farm-to-table dining. Just as plants produced via cross-pollination tend to be healthier, more vigorous, and more adaptable to changes in their environment, here’s hoping that the unique partnerships being forged between farmer and chef yield a bumper crop of successful restaurants and farms.

Farm to Table Bistro
Lunch & dinner daily. Appetizers & small plates $8-$16; entrées $14-$25
Lawrence Farms Market Square, 1083 Rte. 9, Fishkill. 845-297-1111; www.ftbistro.com

Farm to Table Bistro offers fresh, seasonal fare

Theresa J. Marquez, Poughkeepsie Journal 12:08 a.m. EDT June 12, 2014

The term farm-to-table can imply different things. In Fishkill, it is the name of a restaurant that also implements the philosophies of farm-to-table on its menu selections.

Located in the Lawrence Farms Market Square, the storefront is welcoming with al fresco seating and pots of colorful flowers. The interior is chic warehouse and part winery in style. Varied options for seating are available. For a more casual feel, opt for the first dining room near the bar. For a more upscale experience, choose the second dining room. Either way, you will enjoy the menu here.

Housemade Pâté ($10) immediately caught my eye. A well-made pâté should not be gamey, but this one was. The texture was more chunky than smooth, which lent a jewel-like appearance to the slices on the plate, especially with the sweet, dried fig featured in the center of each cut. Pickled onion and cornichon were also on the menu, but were initially missing on the plate. Traditionally, pâté is served with one or both of these garnishes because they enhance the flavors of pâté. The addition of roasted red peppers, a few Kalamata olives and finally the pickled red onion rounded out this dish.

The Fried Calamari ($10) appetizer is a pretty standard dish and other than quality, tough to improve on. But they did here. First, instead of battering in flour or cornmeal, the squid was given a quick toss in rice flour, making this gluten-free. But better than that, this swap provided the softest coating when it was flash-fried, which helped the calamari shine. A quick toss with Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs, and it could have ended there and been good — but no. An option called “a la Frankie” ($14) was offered. Hot calamari was tossed with slices of tangy pepperoncini peppers, sliced Kalamata olives, lightly warmed cherry tomato halves, sprinkled with a tangy cheese and Voila! Smack — right out of the ball park.

Slightly less adventurous but still in the impressive lane is the Arthur Avenue Sampler ($16). This antipasti featured salumi from the Italian neighborhood of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Paired with a wonderful glass of wine from the bar, this could become a meal.

On the menu, you will see “fish of the day.” Scallops ($26) were featured when we visited. While that might seem like a high price for five scallops, these were perfectly prepared. Lightly seasoned, they were given a good sear on both sides before being plated. They were tender and sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Also on the dish was a large chunk of ratatouille that tasted primarily of raw tomato and squash. For added protein, unassuming brown lentils rounded out the dish along with a spattering of roasted cherry tomatoes and a luscious pool of lobster-scented sauce.

Marinated Asian Beef Medallions ($23) was a “dark” dish. Beef tenderloin was marinated in a combination of garlic, ginger, rice wine and a heavy dose of sesame oil before being cooked off. Having asked for the beef to be cooked medium-rare, five little slices of well-cooked beef were presented on the plate. The marinade was too heavy for this expensive cut of meat, leaving the palate feeling overpowered by the oppressive sesame oil. The sauce on the bottom of the plate did little to elevate this. Paired with a choice of sautéed kale and brown lentils, it was at least a filling plate. Other sides were available that would have raised the visual appeal of the plate.

Ample beverage menus offer specialty drinks from the bar as well as non-alcoholic libations. Wines both by the glass and bottle bring more choices to the table.

Service was comfortable and well-intended, adding to the enjoyment of the meal.

To wrap up your meal, be sure to take a peek at the dessert menu. All choices are house-made and well worth saving room for.

The Poughkeepsie Journal pays for the meals that are the subjects of restaurant reviews and reviewers do not identify themselves prior to the end of the meal. Theresa J. Marquez, Web producer for the Poughkeepsie Journal, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2005 with high honors. She has worked for Cooking Light magazine and is a local personal chef and culinary coach. Contact her at enjoy@poughkeepsiejournal.com

Dining review

Farm to Table Bistro

★★★★ (Very Good)

1083 Route 9, Fishkill; 845-297-1111; www.ftbistro.com; American bistro cuisine. Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday; reservations recommended for larger groups and Friday-Saturday evenings; Visa and MasterCard accepted; vegetarian entrees available; gluten-free choices available; catering services available; handicapped accessible.

Price range: $8-$25, lunch; $14-$25, dinner; no children’s menu.

Directions: From Poughkeepsie, drive south on Route 9 about 10.5 miles. The restaurant is on the right side of the road in the Lawrence Farms Market Square.

Ratings breakdown

Food ★★★★

Ambience ★★★★

Service ★★★★

Value ★★★★

3rd Annual “Challenge your Colon” Chili Festival

Farm to Table Bistro participates in 3rd Annual “Challenge your Colon” Chili Festival for Colon Cancer Awareness Day

From: ebrocks@premiercaresfoundation.org
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2014 6:31 PM
To: Farm to Table Bistro
Subject: Thank you!

Premier2014-0094

Dear Chris and Bridgett,

On behalf of the Premier Cares Foundation I wanted to thank you so much for participating in our 3rd Annual “Challenge your Colon” Chili Festival for Colon Cancer Awareness Day!  We had a record-breaking number of attendees, and have heard rave reviews about all of the delicious fare that they were able to taste at such a meaningful event.

We hope that you enjoyed the event, and we would love to have you join us again next year! We’re also looking for feedback to help make next year’s event even better – please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions.

Premier2014-0164Again, our sincere thanks for your participation in this year’s Chili Festival.  I have attached a few photos of your booth that were captured by KEE Photo for you to enjoy.

Best,

Elyse

Elyse Brocks
Associate Director
Premier Cares Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 93
Pleasant Valley, NY 12569
phone: 845.554.5536
www.premiercaresfoundation.org

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

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/