woodstock NY: peekamoose or red onion?
The Peekamoose is definitely my choice. The restaurant is country-funky in decor and the food is exquisite! Totally unexpected for the area! Our waitress was so friendly and knowledgeable. She turned us on to a Portuguese wine by the glass. The prices were very reasonable, as you'd pay close to double for the same meal in the city. We told the reservationist that it was a special birthday and she asked the name of the birthday boy - When we arrived, she handed us menus, and there it was, right on my son's menu: "Happy Birthday Scott!" What a personal touch!
The chef/owner comes from some hot Manhattan eateries like Le Bernadin and Gramercy Tavern - It shows. The food is incredible and we're told that the menu changes daily with whatever is freshest from the area's farms. Wine List was awesome with tons of selections in the $20 range...Our waitress called them "diamonds in the rough"...We selected a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile for $17 and it didn't disappoint. Overall, an amazing experience.
We've eaten at the Red Onion a couple of times, it's worth a visit. I like the glassware for wines and the cocktail list is great. The red and black theme of the place is a little odd - makes you feel like some secret society of devil worshippers. The service is spotty and hurried. And the food is often lack-luster. We had a tuna the last time, but it was taken down a level or two, when it came with mashed potatoes and spinach. It felt like it was the Chef's night off and they were too tired to come up with a better combination of flavors.
Overall, the Peekamoose has been a stand-out in the area - It's worth the trip, just for the braised beef short ribs, while sitting under a tree-trunk chandelier, sipping some terrific Portuguese wine.
We went to Peekamoose and were not disappointed! The drive was not bad at all as we were staying in Mt Tremper - it was actually far more convenient than going to Red Onion, so that helped guide our choice.
For starters, I had the shaved beet "carpaccio" - a substantial and especially beautiful salad with wonderful earthy flavors. A liberal grinding of black pepper cut any sweetness in the beets, and left a far more savory impression that I would have expected possible. Meanwhile, my man had the seared scallops. The portion was huge for an app. The meat was sweet, seared to a slightly crunchy crust, and 100% delectable.
Mains were roasted rabbit and braised short ribs. The rabbit was outstanding, the meat nicely carmelized yet still moist and tender. There was an unusual, slightly sweet spice involved - very subtle - perhaps star anise? which made this dish particularly interesting. This was accompanied by a lovely white bean ragu which made the dish very satisfying, yet still fairly light in the belly. Meanwhile, the short ribs were classicly flavored with what I believe was a port reduction. The meat was extraordinarily tender and flavorful, but it also had that slightly sticky consistency that belies the high collagen content. MM and I decided this was why we don't order short ribs more frequently - they were delicious but very rich, very heavy. The side of potatoes were extremely buttery and tasty, but they really compounded the richness and heaviness of the ribs. Appropriate I suppose, but be warned, this is a dish to satisfy an enormous appetite!
Onto dessert: caramel apple tart with cardamom ice cream, and a steamed lemon curd pudding. Both good, but the caramel was a bit too sweet, and the lemon curd had a wee bit too much lemon peel - it left that slightly numb sensation in the mouth.
Service was truly wonderful - our waiter was attentive and knowledgable without any prentention whatsoever. He had excellent recommendations to offer, and his manner was very professional yet friendly. Our only complaint on the service front was that the hostess seated another couple right next to us in close quarters, when there were several other options that would have left both tables with far more privacy and comfort. It would have been understandable if seating was getting tight, but it was just not that busy.
In all, highly recommended. We will definitely go back next time we are in the area!
I am a fan of both restaurants... they are different though:
Peekamoose is a drive from Woodstock, but on a nice day you can combine with a hike, or perhaps Roberts Auction in Fleischmans. Or some antiquing and gallery around Margretville/Andes.
Peekamoose is more for the more culinary adventurous--he uses much more game, including rabbit on his menus. The staff will take their time explaining things --they are well trained and informed. This is a dining experience where you and the food are the center of attention. Nice wine list.
Red Onion is more hep, a place to be seen/to see...you are not the center of attention (in fact the noise level gets loud...). The food is wonderful -- but more predictable for a bistro. The bar draw is their fresh squeezed citrus juices, and their martinis.
Red Onion is one of my fav. "neighborhhood" places.
My family and I had a lovely meal at Peekamoose last summer. They were crowded because of a local concert, and even though we didn't have reservations they were gracious and accommodating. The service was a great combination of easy going and efficient and I thought the food was very reasonably priced for the quality. I'd recommend them. Sorry I can't compare Peekamoose to Red Onion for you.
I grew up in Woodstock and I've been to the Bear many times. I have to say my memories of the place are not so hot, as honestly, they treated us locals who didn't have infinitely deep pockets pretty much like crap. I'm not a fan of that kind of thing, so even though I can afford to really splurge now, I'd rather take it elsewhere.
And I'm just generally looking for something new. I have been to New World a few times, and from what I have heard, Peekamoose and Red Onion are the other two top contenders in the area now. Any comments about these two places?