Community Food & Restaurant

Fireside Dining Guide

Nov 02, 2016 Joan Horton

Warm & cozy restaurants to visit this fall in the Hudson Valley

Autumn in the Hudson Valley is a beautiful time. The sky is bluer and crisper, the leaves unfold their colors in a slightly different way each year, and each is its own story of hikes and pumpkins, vistas, and adventures.

At the end of each fall day, not just tired, but chilled, there is nothing so sweet, so welcome, and so intimate as a good meal by a warm fire. On both sides of the Hudson, those hearths abound, and here we offer a collection of favorites, new and old.

Hoffman House Restaurant & Tavern is a cozy American Dutch Stone structure, dating back over 300 years to well before Wiltwyck became Kingston. Since 1977, the 200-year anniversary of the signing of the Articles of Confederation, which saw a Hoffman family member’s pen, the authentically restored tavern has been serving American Pub style food, good beer and spirits with family friendly service, at a reasonable price. The fish and chips, the grass-fed burger, and the lemony kale with shallots are particular favorites.

The house, which could almost be overlooked if you drive through the Kingston Stockade District a bit too fast, is like Doctor Who’s Tardis; bigger on the inside, and likely to transport you through time and space. Any of its three fireplaces provides welcome warmth and atmosphere on a cold winter’s night, but the small room with three colonial-style booths is particularly cozy and dear.

Judy Hamilton (L) of Kingston and Betty Gakenheimer of Saugerties enjoy a fireside meal at Hoffman House Restaurant & Tavern in Kingston. Photo by Karl Rabe.

Sitting in those booths, sheltered within the high wooden backs, is the kind of privacy and intimacy that puts you in good company with the spirits of lovers and revolutionaries, pirates and day sailors. You can almost hear the whispers of those who came before, planning anything from the overthrow of British rule, the recovery of sunken treasure, or the intricacies of honeymooning in St. Croix.

The Beekman Arms, across the River in Rhinebeck, is another Colonial Era gem, open since before Ichabod Crane was mowed down by a carefully placed pumpkin. The oldest continuously operating hotel in America, The Beekman has hosted notables from Alexander Hamilton, whose fatal feud with Aaron Burr is rumored to have begun in this very tavern, through Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the Clinton family.

George Washington, whose ancient painted portrait hangs over one of the restaurant’s three fireplaces, was a well known patron. The fireplace in the taproom predates the revolution as well as the present structure. The coziest fireplace of all, a large hearth, surrounded by deep couches, is the perfect place to sip hot toddies on a cold winter night after a movie at Upstate Films or a brisk walk through Rhinebeck’s charming shopping district. The menu is very local, and is quite affordable with a locally sourced burger and lunchtime trout over warm lentil salad, both priced at only $14.

The Country Inn, a half hour drive from either Kingston or New Paltz, past the rolling hills, forests and fields of Accord, is a more rural escape. With a lovely fire to cozy up to and a mostly Italian American menu—featuring house made sausages, local pierogies, and gourmet pizza—the Country Inn is a great place to escape the modern world. Owner Peter Rinaudo says with no cell service or wifi, you will have to enjoy the people you are with, the good food, regular live music, and the 500 beers that have made the place famous for over 30 years.

Down a New Paltz lane, shaded by the locust trees that gave name to one of its longest previous incarnations, is Garvan’s. A gastropub open just over six months and getting rave reviews, the menu is a locavore fusion delight, including up to the moment American cuisine, somehow seamlessly incorporating Jicama, Irish bacon, and White and Black Pudding. Local apples and beef, infusions, and a great bar complete the widely appealing culinary palette.

With a bright updated décor inspired by owner Garvan McCloskey’s native Ireland, the hand hewn beams and stone walls of the tavern still recall the Dutch and Huguenot settlers, who took their rest here 250 years ago. There is a warm fire to be had both in the tavern and in the mid-nineteenth century dining room.

Dean and Daisy Read of New Paltz have dinner near the fire at Garvan’s Gastropub in late October. Photo by Karl Rabe.
Dean and Daisy Read of New Paltz have dinner near the fire at Garvan’s Gastropub in late October. Photo by Karl Rabe.

Mohonk Mountain House is not always recognized as a dining choice, but it is a very Romantic destination. If you have a day to spend, want great food, and a wonderful memory-making adventure, these are the fireplaces for you. A meal pass to Mohonk costs between $50 and $95 a person, but it gives a full day of access, from 8 in the morning to 10:30 at night, including many opportunities for canoodling, conversation or meditation by arguably the most impressive fireplaces, open fires and hearths in the Hudson Valley.

There are 125 summer houses, the Smiley Family name for the weathered, eclectic gazebos, dotted generously around the 85 miles of trails, each designed for camaraderie and sited for a lovely view. The garden, with its hedge maze, holds the crown jewel of summer houses—a two story, vine wrapped wonder covering every inch of its silvered cedar surface, etched with hearts, and initials, left by decades of smitten and hopeful lovers.

The only thing more numerous and varied may be the fireplaces. Each private room of the Victorian wing has its own fireplace. There are fireplaces in the Carriage Lounge, which is the new bar, the spa area, and in public spaces throughout the castle. Every day at precisely 4pm, tea is served in the Lake Lounge, with an impressive open hearth. In the winter, when the skating rink is open, you can warm your bones and your soul, while sipping hot chocolate by the massive hearth.

The meal pass allows you house tours, garden tours, and an invitation to stay until the evening entertainment is through. Mohonk may not be for everyday dining, but it is a magical experience no one living close by should miss, and fall and winter are the perfect time to indulge.

Plan to Visit:
Hoffman House, 94 North Front Street, Kingston.

The Beekman Arms,  6387 Mill Street, Rhinebeck.

The Country Inn, 1380   Route 2, Olivebridge.

Garvan’s Gastropub, 215   Huguenot Street, New Paltz.

Mohonk Mountain House, 1000 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz.