One night in Poughkeepsie/Rhinebeck
May be coming to Vassar for one night this week, am considering one meal, would you suggest the Italian Restuaruant at the CIA or the Petit Bistro in Rhinebeck...other suggestions are also welcomed.
I think this goes on the Tristate board until such time as New York City annexes those northern suburbs. Oh... just saw you put it there. You could impress that Vassar girl by taking her by train to eat in New York City.
Speaking as a Vassargrrrl (OK, it was a while ago), any restaurant at the CIA is usually a great meal...and it is fairly close to campus.
The CIA restaurants are usually booked months in advance. If you luck up, you may be able to pick up a table from a cancellation. My daughter is a student at CIA, and we've been unable to try the best three restaurants there when we tried reserving only three weeks in advance! We've made reservations instead at a Poughkeepsie restaurant called The Locust Tree, which was recommended (www.locusttree.com).
This is going to be moved, but as a native son of Poughkeepsie (Wappingers Falls.. REPRESENT!) and as someone who worked in many of the areas restaurants and considered a stint at the CIA, I can add my two cents:
Number 1: DO NOT eat at Escoffier Room at CIA. It is a staid, boring French menu from three decades ago. Unimaginative beef, lamb and chicken. Well executed but passe in a culinary sense.
Number 2: DO eat at the American Bounty at CIA. Everything the Escoffier Room is not, with a passionate focus on the seasonal abundance of the Hudson Valley.
Number 3: The Beechwood Grill next to Vassar College is a solid bistro with quality American fare. Worth a brunch or dinner visit.
Number 4: The Applewood Bar And Grill in Highland off 9W is worth the trip across the river. Run by a CIA grad and staffed with many others, this is continental american cuisine done very well, and a great wine cellar
Number 5: A trip to the Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck if you have money to blow will definitely be memorable. I'm not sure if the restaurant still maintains the reputation it used to have as one of the best in the Hudson Valley, but back in my day it was one of the pinnacles. Check them on the web.
HAve you considered Twist Restaurant, in Hyde Park, between pok and rbk? lwe petit bistro is great, cia is the cia, and twist rocks. check it out.
I have been to the Beekman Arms recently and was less than impressed. The Terrapin is still good though.
OK. I am a vassar student (at least for this semester). I have tried a lot of the places mentioned above because I also have an Uncle close by and make frequent trips to the area. My two top picks would be:
1.) busy bee cafe-its near the Vassar Brothers hospital, in poughkeepsie. Extremely good fresh food. It might not looke like anything special, but the food certainly is. i dont know why no one mentions it on chowhound. Plus, on weekends (at least when I was there on a Friday night) there is music, a jazz trio I believe. The decor is off the mark, but it seems like they tried. The service is pleasant, but nothing extraordinary.
2.) If you are willing to go up to Rhinebeck, try Calico, espescially if you are a dessert person. The dining room is upscale, but not too stuffy and the place is small and cozy. The menu is small, but terrific. Plus, you can check out a movie at upstate films after or before. Oh and the desserts are AMAZING.
Other observations: CIA is probably booked and extremely expensive and only worth it because its CIA. Calico is run by CIA graduates anyways. Both the restaurants above are medium priced. They are not cheap but not extravagant prices. Beachwood is defenitely not worth it. Just plain average bistro fare. Only good if you do not have a car and you are stuck at Vassar. Anyways, good luck.
Thanks for all the suggestions, here is my update on where we went. I could not get reservations at any of the 3 fine dining restaurants at the CIA (just as well, I only brought jeans). We went to the St. Andrews Cafe, a little inconsistent but all and all a very nice time. Even though this is their "informal" diningroom, it was a very nice room, not busy at all. We started off with a basket of delicious bread with a dipping oil of herbs and feta cheese and a fava bean spread; My wife had a cream of mushroom soup which she praised and I had a chicken and shrimp gumbo which was the highlight of the meal; We each had the risotto with morels and parmigiana, excellent flavor but the risotto was a bit underdone (a little too crunchy); We also split some shrimp wontons, not so great. All and all, it was a very good meal and a lot of fun, I would recommend it.
Re: the CIA Their Apple Pie bakery is the place I sneak out to for lunch when I can...you might have to stand in line, but the food is worth it--salads, sandwiches/wraps, pizzas, desserts--and a great value.
Of their formal rooms, I am partial to the Caterina de Medici...and have had no problems getting reservations even when calling a few days in advance (mid week).
I'd rather eat at Red--the bar/bistro of Terrapin...I love to design my own sandwich--the duck confit is wonderful--and the desserts come in the perfect size to enjoy but not have to work out the next week for :) Red's appetizer and entree menu is similar but cheaper than its much formal sibling.
And, I love Le Petit Bistro--it is a taste of Paris in Rhinebeck, and The Would is wonderful,too.
The Busy Bee has good creative food but absolutely no atmosphere.