Following is a survey of Shandaken eating spots, highlighting new developments and recapping the usual, from Pine Hill to Phoenicia to Mount Tremper and points in between.
Peekamoose Restaurant recently obtained a $45,000 loan from the Catskill Watershed Corporation to build a new awning for its outdoor deck. Designer Mike Wentland of Big Indian is creating a frame made of recycled barn wood and other vintage timber, with custom-made blinds of bronze mesh. They’re also getting a batch freezer for ice cream made on the premises. “It will allow us to make five quarts if ice cream in 15 minutes,” says Marybeth Mills, who owns the business with her husband, chef Devin Mills. A third purchase will be a generator. Power outages are rare but seem to occur only on holiday Saturdays. “We put out tambourines and acoustic guitars and serve customers until the smoke chases us out of the kitchen,” Marybeth laughs. “We have a perishable inventory, so losing power for an extended period means a lot of money. Now you know, when power goes out, you can head to my bar!”
She describes the food as “American farmhouse cuisine. The menu changes daily and seasonally, depending on what was harvested that day. Devin finds out what ingredients are fresh when he picks them up.” Open Thursday through Monday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and till midnight Fridays and Saturdays, when items are available from the bar menu.
After several years of vacancy, the former Loretta Charles Restaurant in Allaben is under renovation. It’s located on Route 28, a few miles west of Phoenicia. The banner over the front door reads “J. Rocco’s Steakhouse and Speakeasy” — with a pair of submachine guns depicted in silhouette. According to a workman testing the satellite TV hookup at the bar, owner Erik Risher of Garrison is expecting to open in August. Risher could not be reached for comment.
In the hamlet of Pine Hill, the Pine Hill Arms is open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Owners Valerie and Robert Konefal offer daily early bird specials from 5:00-6:30 p.m.: pasta on Wednesdays, fish on Thursdays, steak (London broil, ribeye, or filet mignon) on Sundays, and nightly bar specials accompanied by a pint of Bud.
In Phoenicia, Sportsmen’s Alamo Cantina recently worked up a series of weeknight specials that have been drawing plenty of customers to tables both indoors and out. On Fat Mattie Mondays, pitchers of Bud or Coors are discounted, as are small cheese pizzas and buffalo wings. On Taco Tuesdays, the sale features are tacos and margaritas. Sangria Wednesdays mean low-cost nachos and sangria, while Thursday is Ladies’ Night, when the martinis and appetizers are on sale.
The Sportsmen’s Mexican menu and bar offerings are supplemented by brick-oven pizza and standard American fare available from Brio’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, serving both locations. Proprietor Mike Ricciardella also owns Ricciardella’s, an elegant Italian restaurant down the street.
Mama’s Boy Market and Cafe is beginning its second year at the center of Phoenicia by offering slow-cooked barbeque on weekends. Starting at 1 p.m., owner Michael Koegel grills brisket, pulled pork, corn on the cob, hot dogs, and hamburgers in front of the cafe. The first weekend, he sold out, says Koegel. On Fourth of July weekend, Sunday’s rain knocked out the grilling, but he had a good crowd indoors for ready-made dishes, desserts, ice cream, and what at least two customers have called the best coffee and cappuccino in town.
The Phoenicia Market has installed a deli counter, thanks to enterprising retiree Alan Boyd of Lanesville, who wanted to get back into the workforce. “I decided, if I can’t find work, I’ll create it,” says Boyd. Mostly known for its grocery section and lottery tickets, the store now provides cold cuts, sandwiches, salads, hot lunch dishes, and Boyd’s specialty, a steak-egg-cheese breakfast sandwich. Surprisingly, most of his clients are not tourists or tubers but locals. “Working people can afford to eat here,” says Boyd.
Down Main Street, the Phoenicia Delicatessen, more generally known as Margaret’s, sells German-style cold cuts and bakery goods, as well as sandwiches and some grocery items. “I’ve been open 35 years,” declares owner Margaret Nolte, who hails from Dusseldorf. She has a loyal clientele of locals and also gets tourists, who she says are often surprised “by the international merchandise and that it’s such a clean store.”
Al’s Seafood Restaurant, at the western end of Main Street, is open for dinner seven days a week, including Sunday afternoon. Mondays feature an all-you-can-eat buffet of steak, seafood, and salad. Events are often held at the shaded outdoor pavilion behind the building. Better get down there soon for dinner — there’s a For Sale sign out front.
Sweet Sue’s, the popular breakfast-and-lunch cafe renowned for its pancakes in many flavors, reopened in May after replacement of its septic system. Business seems to be going strong, with the sidewalk tables often filled to the brim and the two indoor dining rooms bustling all weekend.
For down-to-earth affordable American food, visit the Phoenicia Diner on Route 28, a mile east of Phoenicia, or Russ’s Country Kitchen, just down the road at the Phoenicia Plaza. Both offer a range of hearty meals. Russ also has a deli counter and grocery items.
At the Emerson Resort and Spa on Route 28 in Mount Tremper, The Phoenix has reopened with a new chef, Curt Robair. The tavern menu offers Robair’s signature appetizers and sandwiches. In the dining room, the chef’s menu features a three-course prix fixe dinner that changes every week, based on fresh ingredients from around the Hudson Valley and from Robair’s vegetable and herb garden. Customers may reserve a seat at the Chef’s Table in kitchen to watch him as he cooks. The Phoenix is open for dinner Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 4-10pm,and daily for breakfast, 7-10:30 am.
Also at the Emerson complex is the Catamount Cafe, open every night except Thursday, with a menu of homestyle comfort food. There’s live music and dancing on Mondays throughout the summer. For weekend evenings, check the Emerson website, as the cafe is sometimes booked for banquets.
At Catskill Rose on Route 212 in Mount Tremper, owner Peter DiSclafani describes his offerings as “eclectic American cuisine with a classic backbone. A lot of our produce comes from our own organic garden, and we also buy from Taliaferro’s organic farm. The chicken, pork, beef, salmon are all organic. A lot of people are looking for a good price, but a lot are looking for good quality, and that’s what we offer.”
La Duchesse Anne, at the intersection of Wittenberg Road and Route 212 in Mount Tremper, features gourmet food with a French flair, prepared by chef-owner Fabrice. In addition to French standards — frog’s legs, roast duck, escargots — he serves a variety of dishes with an emphasis on seasonal, local fare — trout almandine, wild-harvested chanterelle mushrooms, fresh salads. Thursdays are “local nights”, with discounts on many menu items. Fridays, the bouillabaisse (fish stew) is on special, and there’s live jazz on Saturdays. Open for dinner. ++