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Basement Bistro - Earlton NY

r
rrems Dec 29, 2007 06:03 PM

I probably shouldn't be revealing the secret, but I think serious foodies should be aware of it so here goes. The Basement Bistro has been in business for 18 years and I only found about it from a brief mention on CH a month ago. We went there for dinner last night and it was a unique and wonderful experience. Chef/owner Damon Baehrel does everything himself, not only cooking and serving, but making all his own sauces from fruits and vegetables that he grows on his property, curing his own meats and fish, churning his own butter, and baking his own bread. The grand tasting menu (the only one offered) is based on seasonal availability and our dinner took 4 hours. The wine list is very well thought out, and reasonable in price. Don't expect a lot in the way of atmosphere, it is comfortable but basic. The food is the star here. I won't go into a lot of detail about the dishes because the menu varies but basically you get 4 major courses with multiple items on each (charcuterie and cheeses, seafood, meat and dessert), interspersed with one or two bite tastes, palate cleansers, a small salad, a small bowl of soup, for a total of around a dozen courses. Damon had gotten some black truffles from France, and was very generous in incorporating them into some of the dishes. My only slight criticism would be the dessert, which I think could be a bit more creative. All of this does not come cheap, but considering what you are getting it is a very good value, and well worth the trip to this out-of-the-way corner of Greene County.

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  1. moosesocks RE: rrems Dec 31, 2007 06:18 AM

    Would you mind revealing how much roughly that you spent on this meal?? And does it come with wine?? Thanks!

    2 Replies
    1. re: moosesocks
      jaylhorner RE: moosesocks Dec 31, 2007 07:34 AM

      When I was there....$69 pp plus wine... reasonably prices bottles.

      1. re: moosesocks
        r
        rrems RE: moosesocks Dec 31, 2007 08:58 AM

        Total bill for 5 people with 3 bottles of wine and tax was $500.

      2. m
        Missyme RE: rrems Dec 31, 2007 12:31 PM

        Boy, do I wish this place existed way back when, in the days my kids went to Camp Tranquility. Visiting days would have been so much better!

        1. l
          links42 RE: rrems Jan 1, 2008 01:28 PM

          We too recently discovered this amazing place! We hesitated to post because it's already so difficult to get a reservation. To be completely honest, we've dined at 11 Michelin 3 star restaurants in Europe, and basically every top restaurant in the U.S., including French Laundry & Per Se, Gary Danko, Joel Robechons, Daniel, Bouley, Charlie Trotters, Herb Farm, Inn at Little Washington etc.etc. and have to say the food & service at the Basement Bistro tops them all! The combinations, freshness & perfect execution totally took us by surprise & overwhelmed us on all 4 occasions. The fact that the Chef/owner makes his own cheeses & Charcuterie and they are amoung the best we've had anywhere in the world & is able to have his gardens sustain the place year round is nothing short of amazing. The last time we went was early Dec. & he was still serving corn from his garden, he had smoked it over fruitwood after picking & said to think of it as a "smoked ham for the Winter" but using corn. It was garnishing a frothy mushroom dish & was one of the most amazing tastes we've ever experienced! We feel it would be a great value at double the price! The chef actually treated us to a special wine the first time we went. Sent us home with a fresh Loaf of his amazing bread each time & sent us home with "wines to try". Hospitality we've never experienced anywhere.
          The atmosphere of the room is classic & beautiful with warm woods, rich mouldings & comfortable chairs. On our last vist, we asked the chef about the collection of plates the various courses arrive on since they are so unique. Vilroy & Boch & Reidel Stems. We don't know how chef Damon grows, cooks & serves everything by himself so perfectly,(every seat was full each time we've gone) but if you've ever been to this place you can feel the energy & passion. I feel much better after posting this, I've wanted to for a year! Now we will never be able to get a table!

          2 Replies
          1. re: links42
            h
            hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: links42 Jan 10, 2008 05:21 PM

            that is some praise. From what I heard you are not alone in your thinking. I think it is hard for food this good to remain a secret for too long.

            1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
              r
              rrems RE: hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 10, 2008 06:27 PM

              Somehow it has remained a "secret " for 18 years, but it is very hard to get a reservation, so obviously a lot of people have somehow discovered it.

          2. l
            links42 RE: rrems Jan 4, 2008 11:23 AM

            We've paid $75pp, $65pp,$72pp& $68pp w/o wine tax & grat over the 4 times we've gone. $ change depending on ingredients. As I mentioned, if it was double the price, it would still be a great value.

            1. b
              bmgjrg RE: rrems Jan 12, 2008 10:28 PM

              WOW...I'm tempted to make reservations for my April birthday. It would be a two hour ride there and two hour's back....can it be worth that or can someone suggest a place closer to home. I've been to Blue Hill and Equus....don't suggest Per Se...spending that kind of money for a meal just plain turns me OFF.

              1. d
                DGresh RE: rrems Jul 27, 2008 05:03 AM

                I saw this post last year and filed it away in my mind. This past May I called and asked whether we could make a reservation for one of two weekends this summer when the kids would be away at camp. The man taking the reservations warned me that they get up to 700 (!) calls for a weekend, but that he'd get back to me in June if there was anything. I didn't hear back, so figured we were out of luck. Then a week and a half ago he called to say they had added an early seating for a Saturday night;were we available. I jumped at the chance. Turns out they had a very late seating of a large group of people coming in from Vancouver that night, so they added a 5:15 seating for just three tables, all people who had never been before and we qualified. There were just 8 of us in the small space, close enough to feel friendly but far enough apart that you felt that your conversations were private. Chef Damon cooks and serves and suggests the wine, all by himself.

                What an experience. We walked out of the restaurant at 10:15, five hours after we arrived. I lost track of all the courses, but there were 11 or 12 separate servings, some of which were just a bite (but even those consisted of 3 or 4 distinct flavors, such as the smoked salmon "bacon" in a broth of crab and lobster with an herb aioli.) The charcuterie and cheese plate to start was the most out of this world thing I could imagine-- each sliver of meat or small bite of cheese was an absolute explosion of flavor. He presented things you would never order on a menu (for example a purple bean "mousse" presented in a small cone perched in a pot of peppercorns). Everything we ate was literally like nothing else I'd ever tasted before-- nothing was predictable or "expected"; everything a surprise of flavor in some way. Chef Damon described each item on the plate with such love and enthusiasm you couldn't help but be excited. He describes to each table how he smokes his meats, how he creates a thickened sauce from concentrated rhubarb-- it goes on and on. He started each table with a complimentary glass of champagne and the most amazing herb bread.

                It sounds from his comments that he may soon burst onto the national scene (can you say Food Network)-- but that he still wants to keep doing things as he is doing-- so I certainly hope he can do things on his own terms-- he said he laughs when other restaurant owners tell him their restaurant failed because of "location". He is certainly way off the beaten track but is in an absolute class by himself. Lucky those people who live close enough to be able to get into this tiny place more often--

                1 Reply
                1. re: DGresh
                  h
                  hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: DGresh Aug 11, 2008 09:21 AM

                  Yes, you are right. He will soon burst onto the national scene. I was there last month and it sounds like he is working on a book and a TV show. He was presented with an opportunity years ago but they wanted him to compromise on ingredients and/or technique so he passed. He truly is a genius. I don't know how else to put it.

                2. lambretta76 RE: rrems Oct 7, 2008 06:28 PM

                  I was lucky enough to enjoy Chef Baehrel's hospitality this past weekend. I did my best to document the meal, which I'm afraid is too lengthy to go into full detail here. I'll post the pictures and contents of the first three courses below; for more information, please check out my full post here: http://contraysdictions.blogspot.com/...

                  First Course:

                  Charcuterie (all cured in-house, clockwise from top):
                  Goose "salami"
                  Icelandic lamb cured with coriander
                  Grass-fed beef brasaola
                  Kurobuta (Berkshire) pork "speck"

                  Small bites (from top):
                  Nasturtium flower, coated in rice flour and baked, served on a sunchoke puree*
                  Baby green beans wrapped in lamb prosciutto with heirloom carrot puree
                  Heirloom tomato with swiss chard and spinach powder

                  Cheeses (all made in-house, clockwise from top):
                  Blue cheese with sage
                  Camembert-style cheese
                  (unknown variety with fried parsley
                  )Earlton cheese (chef's own recipe)
                  Goat chevre with apple and nectarine confit

                  * It should be noted that most of his purees and sauces use a rutabaga stock at various reductions instead of cream or butter. It's amazing how much of a creamy texture this method gives a sauce without adding extra fat

                  Second Course:

                  Savory Cones: Parsley-oil "cones" with pureed purple bush beans, green eggplant, and green sunflower seeds

                  Third Course:

                  Salmon "BLT": Peachwood-smoked salmon, basil, heirloom tomato, lavender and marjoram aioli

                   
                   
                   
                  1 Reply
                  1. re: lambretta76
                    h
                    hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: lambretta76 Nov 25, 2008 06:51 AM

                    I enjoyed reading your full post. I had the exact same experience you did. Simply amazing. I have no problem declaring Chef Baehrel the Best Chef in America. I really don't think anyone is better.

                    Our dinner also ended around 10 PM and he was also preparing for another seating. He had some chefs driving up from New York for an 11 PM dinner. I suspected that this was a rarity but it sounds like the norm. And the amazing thing was that Chef Baehrel was in no way rushing us out the door so he could turn the place around. Instead he walked us to our car chatting about gardening. One of the nicest people I've met.

                    I also found it interesting that he used the cone as a serving vessel. Don't know if you picked up on it but he made it very clear that he has been serving that cone since he first started. As you might know that cone became a signature dish at the French Laundry. However Chef Baehrel has been serving the cone before Thomas Keller even opened the French Laundry. I'm not saying that Keller stole it from Baehrel but its something to think about. Thomas Keller did work in the area before moving west.

                  2. d
                    DGresh RE: rrems Jan 21, 2009 12:25 PM

                    Just saw this on epicurious

                    Extreme Farm to Table: The Basement Bistro in Earlton, NY
                    http://www.epicurious.com/articlesgui...

                    Nice review, but that first picture does not do his food justice. I was there last summer and was thoroughly wowed by everything.

                    26 Replies
                    1. re: links42
                      m
                      MommyTwingle RE: links42 Jan 23, 2009 09:11 AM

                      I had an awful experience with the Basement Bistro. I bought a gift certificate for my parents last Christmas after reading the rave reviews on this site. I should have known there would be trouble when physically obtaining the certificate was no easy task. I did eventually get it and was very excited to present it to my parents. They called several times to obtain reservations and spoke to Terrence, evidently the only person who can make a reservation for you, and were not able to obtain a reservation.He did go on and tell them all about how wonderful the restaurant is, that they were working on a show for Food Network, and that there were only six tables which is why he couldn't get them in any time in the forseeable future to this chef owned place. I don't mean that the date they wanted was not available, but that Terrence had NO openings to offer them at all and told them he would call them back because they were trying to add a few new tables, but he never did. They left several additional messages on the restaurant answering machine, and none of those were answered. I finally emailed Elizabeth who responded and said she would talk to the reservations office. Still, they received no response. My mother made one last call and left yet another unanswered message. I was aware of her multiple attempts, and eventually made a call myself. I was lucky enough to get Damon himself on the phone who knew immediately who my parents were and told me he spoke to them personally himself. Strange since the ONLY person they ever spoke to was Terrence. I pleaded to Damon for his help and he told me he could not make reservations; that he would have to have the reservations office call me back. Odd that the chef/owner does not have the authority to make a reservation, and unfortunate that the only help he could offer was to leave yet another message for Terrence. Damon and Elizabeth pride themselves on running the entire restaurant by themselves yet are quick to push any difficulty off to some vague reservations office. Do remember this restaurant is in their home, but they behave as if it is some corporate office that only certain departments can deal with certain issues. To say the least, it was a very frustrating experience, and I suggested that they stop selling gift certificates if they can not accommodate those guests. I believe Elizabeth told me she would talk to the reservations office about that too. I'm glad you enjoyed the food and your experience; looks like my parents and I won't ever get to taste it. I requested my money back after a year, and reluctantly they sent it to me.

                      1. re: MommyTwingle
                        d
                        DGresh RE: MommyTwingle Jan 23, 2009 10:09 AM

                        that sounds very frustrating. I'm actually very surprised that they sold you a gift certificate, given how difficult it is to get a reservation. Seems like a fundamentally flawed idea. But I think it is true that chef damon effectively "outsources" the reservation process so that he isn't distracted by the hundreds of calls a week (literally). We just kind of lucked out into getting a reservation last summer. I gather it's somewhat like getting a reservation at elBulli, on a much smaller scale. You need to be flexible and lucky.

                        1. re: DGresh
                          h
                          hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: DGresh Jan 28, 2009 01:05 PM

                          Chef Baehrel told me they get 2000 calls per week.

                          1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                            Nancy C RE: hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 28, 2009 02:05 PM

                            Can this possibly be worth it, financially or otherwise, for this restaurant? 2,000 calls a week? I'd leave the phone off the hook except for odd hours and hope for the best.

                            1. re: Nancy C
                              h
                              hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: Nancy C Jan 28, 2009 02:22 PM

                              From a cost perspective it's a bargain. I think it was about 75 per person for a 12 course tasting menu. A private experience like this would cost easily $1000 per person at a place like Per Se and the food is on the level of Per Se.

                              I have been to Tru in Chicago. It cost us $300 per person and I left a bit disappointed.

                              At Basement Bistro we spent $75 and left amazing, simply amazed. I really don't think words can describe the experience. I firmly believe that Chef Baehrel is the best chef in the country. The fact that you get to met him and he explains every dish is worth a 6 month wait for reservation.

                              1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                                d
                                DGresh RE: hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 28, 2009 02:29 PM

                                I think Nancy C was asking whether dealing with 2000 calls a week was worth it, not the cost of dinner. But I think Basement Bistro's solutiion is much better for the customer than having some "random" event like them having the phone off the hook in order to get a reservation. At least you get put into some kind of "bucket" or whatever, and maybe you get a call, like I did.
                                And I agree with hudsonvalleyfoodblog, this is an incredible "bargain" cost wise, but I hate to say that as it sounds too "crass"

                                1. re: DGresh
                                  h
                                  hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: DGresh Jan 28, 2009 02:46 PM

                                  Oh I got you. Well in my experience they never answer the phone. Every time I have called it goes straight to voicemail. Also the number that goes to Terrence isn't at the restaurant. I think he lives on the west coast. So in essence they don't deal with it.

                                  1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                                    b
                                    bob gaj RE: hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 28, 2009 03:14 PM

                                    terrence doesn't live on the west coast - he lives closer to me than the restaurant.

                                    unfortunately, i haven't been able to get a reservation. i'd prefer a system like ko has, oh well. i'll try again in the spring.

                                    1. re: bob gaj
                                      d
                                      DGresh RE: bob gaj Jan 29, 2009 05:05 AM

                                      What is restaurant "Ko" and how does that reservation system work?

                                      1. re: DGresh
                                        s
                                        sibeats RE: DGresh Jan 29, 2009 05:58 AM

                                        It is one of David Changs NYC restaurants...very very small, I believe only 6 seats or so...the reservations are done via website, but you know immediately if you get them, none of this "tentative reservation" stuff.

                                        1. re: sibeats
                                          h
                                          hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: sibeats Jan 29, 2009 06:16 AM

                                          The last thing I have to say about Basement Bistro is that reservations are hard to get for a reason. He's just one guy with limited seating. There are only so many people he can accommodate in a day. The night I ate there our reservation was at 5:30 PM on a Saturday. We were the second of three seatings that day. I am pretty sure that because of zoning laws he can only serve about 50 diners per day. Because of that our seating only had 4 people, including my wife and I. Now Damon didn't need to have that seating. He easily could have taken a few hours off to prepare for his 10:30 seating (which was a bunch of chefs driving up from NYC, we passed their limo on the way out). Instead he wanted to take as many people as possible that day, even if it meant spending 4 hours to serve 4 people.

                                          That day Chef Baehrel cooked from about 2:30 PM till 2:30 AM. That's 12 solid hours and he prepared every piece of food, delivered every plate and poured every glass of wine. Before 2:30 PM he was harvesting vegetables from the garden, foraging for wild berries and preping the restaurant. I honestly don't know how he does it. It's simply amazing. As far as I know there is no comparable restaurant or chef in the country.

                                          My point is that despite the challenge of securing a reservation he is actually very accommodating.

                                          Ko was built with the intention of being exclusive and there is nothing wrong with that. Basement Bistro is exclusive because of real limitations (legal and physical).

                                      2. re: bob gaj
                                        h
                                        hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: bob gaj Jan 29, 2009 05:19 AM

                                        Oh, when I was there Damon mentioned that Terrance had moved. Perhaps I was mistaken.

                                        1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                                          b
                                          bob gaj RE: hudsonvalleyfoodblog Jan 29, 2009 08:48 AM

                                          ko = 12 seats, i think? no room for more, really. damn difficult to get, but at least there's a chance. and like mentioned above, you know immediately.

                                          things may have changed - i just know as of last year, t was local.

                                          1. re: bob gaj
                                            d
                                            DGresh RE: bob gaj Jan 29, 2009 08:54 AM

                                            I think one thing that Basement Bistro *tries* to do is to have a mix of people who've been before and people who haven't (much as I read that el Bulli in Spain does); so it would be impossible to "tune" the mix with an automated solution. Not that I'm saying it isn't frustrating to just leave a message and hope for the best. We had never been, so got in on a only first time visitors "quota" for one night; given that we had only specified 4 possible nights (due to the fact that we live in Westchester and thus would need to make a "weekend" out of it, and were needing to do it when the kids were at camp), the "system" worked, at least for us.

                                            1. re: bob gaj
                                              h
                                              hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: bob gaj Jan 29, 2009 10:11 AM

                                              All I know is that I can't wait to eat there again. What a meal!

                            2. re: MommyTwingle
                              r
                              rrems RE: MommyTwingle Jan 23, 2009 07:15 PM

                              I find this rather shocking too, but I have been attempting to get a reservation for a year and a half after my wonderful experience there, and have finally given up. I find it odd that while some people obviously manage to snag reservations, there seems to be a problem giving priority to those who have been trying for months(years?). The idea of selling gift certificates under these circumstances is absurd. I really loved this place but it seems the chef does not understand the business side of it, though he also apparently does not need to, as they are always fully booked.

                              1. re: rrems
                                TonyO RE: rrems Jan 23, 2009 07:23 PM

                                Is it really worth it ? Why spend so much time and be continually frustrated. Move on, spend your time and money at an establishment that is able to balance great food with common sense. Sound like a "win / win" to me.

                                1. re: TonyO
                                  h
                                  hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: TonyO Jan 28, 2009 01:07 PM

                                  Yes, it is really worth it. If you love food it's worth it because you'll never have another meal like it. It's not just the food but the fact that you are being served by a world class Chef. Imagine getting a 12 course meal prepared and served exclusively by Thomas Keller. That's really the level Chef Baerhel is on.

                              2. re: MommyTwingle
                                h
                                hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: MommyTwingle Jan 28, 2009 01:04 PM

                                I understand your frustration but I think you also need to understand that this is not your typical restaurant. Chef Baehrel is not only the chef and only employee in the restaurant but he also grows all of the vegetables he serves. He told me he sleeps about 3-4 hours a day.

                                Second, Thomas Keller was denied a reservation. That's how hard it is to get in there. Chef Baehrel is one of the most genuine people you will ever meet. I understand you are frustrated but you would have received a reservation eventually. It took me over 6 months.

                                I'm surprised they even offer gift certificates. That's probably the mistake they made.

                                1. re: hudsonvalleyfoodblog
                                  s
                                  slsharp RE: hudsonvalleyfoodblog Feb 4, 2009 02:27 PM

                                  On waiting list as of now... am dying to try! Is there any place to stay up there as I doubt we'll feel like making the 2 hour trek home after a 4-hour meal with wine? Many thanks for any input.

                                  1. re: slsharp
                                    d
                                    DGresh RE: slsharp Feb 4, 2009 02:42 PM

                                    we were last minute, and couldn't find a place to stay in Hudson (across the river-- it was a summer weekend) so we stayed in the best western maybe 5 miles away. I forget the town name. It was "what you expect" for a best western.

                                    Edit: B/W New Baltimore Inn
                                    West Coxsackie (New Baltimore),

                                    1. re: DGresh
                                      s
                                      slsharp RE: DGresh Feb 5, 2009 08:58 AM

                                      I was leaning towards Best Western:( Good news: we are off the wait list and in for the early seating on Valentine's Day.

                                    2. re: slsharp
                                      Bumstead RE: slsharp Feb 4, 2009 06:56 PM

                                      We stayed in New Baltimore also. Basically just a bed, but after 4 hour feast that's about all you want. The Stewart House in Athens is a bit farther but much nicer... http://stewarthouse.com/mainpage.html

                                      1. re: Bumstead
                                        s
                                        slsharp RE: Bumstead Feb 5, 2009 09:19 AM

                                        Actually, Stewart House might be doable--not too too far. THANKS!

                                        1. re: slsharp
                                          r
                                          rrems RE: slsharp Feb 5, 2009 06:33 PM

                                          Athens is not at all far from Earlton, and the Stewart House should be much more charming than the Best Western.

                                      2. re: slsharp
                                        h
                                        hudsonvalleyfoodblog RE: slsharp Feb 8, 2009 12:05 PM

                                        I live about an hour away so I'm not familiar with hotels in the area. Wish I could have been more helpful.

                                2. markp RE: rrems Jun 9, 2009 07:28 PM

                                  Astonishing. Like a dream. If you live to eat: persist. Get to this place.

                                  25 Replies
                                  1. re: markp
                                    r
                                    rrems RE: markp Jun 9, 2009 07:49 PM

                                    I've finally managed to get a reservation, in early July. I am thrilled to be going back.

                                    1. re: rrems
                                      financialdistrictresident RE: rrems Jun 10, 2009 05:28 AM

                                      rrems, please report back. I called for reservations. I can't wait to go. . .and wait I probably will . . .

                                      1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                        d
                                        DrewEck RE: financialdistrictresident Jul 2, 2009 07:03 AM

                                        For anyone who's been, What is the dress code like at Basement Bistro.? Do you need to get 'dressed up' or do black pants and a collared shirt make the grade? Greenville 1899 Inn is about 10 minutes away and they will arrange round-trip taxi if you're enjoying the wine pairings.

                                        1. re: DrewEck
                                          financialdistrictresident RE: DrewEck Jul 2, 2009 08:18 AM

                                          DrewEck, thanks for the lodging rec. We are still waiting . . . any available night is fine with us. Hopeful that being flexible will allow us to enjoy Chef Baehrel's food sooner.

                                          1. re: DrewEck
                                            r
                                            rrems RE: DrewEck Jul 2, 2009 11:40 AM

                                            It's casual. Pants and collared shirt will be very appropriate. Jacket and/or tie are absolutely unnecessary.

                                            1. re: rrems
                                              d
                                              DrewEck RE: rrems Jul 2, 2009 12:21 PM

                                              Thanks!

                                          2. re: financialdistrictresident
                                            r
                                            rrems RE: financialdistrictresident Jul 13, 2009 07:24 PM

                                            fdr,

                                            It was just as wonderful as it was the first time. What really amazed me this time was the selection of cheeses, all made by the chef. We had not only the cheese and charcuterie plate to start, but a beautiful selection of cheeses with fruit as part of the "dessert buffet". So many different kinds, and all wonderful. The seafood was also a highlight, as were the pork and the lamb.

                                            1. re: rrems
                                              d
                                              DrewEck RE: rrems Jul 14, 2009 05:45 AM

                                              When were you there?

                                              1. re: DrewEck
                                                r
                                                rrems RE: DrewEck Jul 14, 2009 04:36 PM

                                                Last Friday. Was that the night you were there?

                                                1. re: rrems
                                                  d
                                                  DrewEck RE: rrems Jul 15, 2009 01:10 AM

                                                  Friday @ 5:30 seating.

                                                  1. re: DrewEck
                                                    r
                                                    rrems RE: DrewEck Jul 15, 2009 07:46 PM

                                                    Yes, that was us at the other table. Any comments on your dinner, and were you the vegetarian in your party? How did you (or whoever is the vegetarian) like the vegetable dishes?

                                                    1. re: rrems
                                                      d
                                                      DrewEck RE: rrems Jul 16, 2009 04:38 AM

                                                      Yep, I'm the vegetarian. A few people have asked if B.B. could accomodate me. Seems as though Damon had it pretty easily covered. My dinner was similar to what everyone else had, with a few non-meat substitutions. There was a layered 'napoleon' of mushrooms and potatoes that was very good and I had a few different fried flower blossoms. I thought that the mushroom and smoked corn soup was one of the best things I've ever tasted. The 'bleu' cheese on the dessert platter wasn't too far behind. What an experience! It's hard to believe that he was going to do it all over again at 11:30. We were there for exactly five hours! One thing that's unfortunate, and is more me than Basement Bistro, is that with so many different courses, dishes and tastes spread out over five hours I've had trouble remembering some of my meal. The pictures on eGullett have brought some of it back (those photos show three meat portions. Our table had six I believe.). Damon was also amazingly non-chalant about a few of my courses, saying that he 'just happened to find this mushroom 'as I was looking at some other vegetables.' Then he makes something incredible out of that mushroom! I've never been to WD-50, but to me, chef Baehrel can be considered *the* super-scientist de cuisine. His knowledge and, more importantly, what he does with that knowledge is amazing. Who would think to brine meats in pine needles? My friend was particularly interested in the offal dinner I think we overheard you talking about. For whatever my opinion is worth, I highly recommend Basement Bistro. The reservation policy didn't bother me a bit. I made a phone call with a couple of requested dates and put it on the back burner. We drove about 1-1/2 hours to get there. I can understand some trepidation if the journey is going to be much more 'out-of-town.' The chef greeted us at the door, gave us a preview of some of the foods we'd be having, gave us a complementary bottle of sparkling wine, brought out all of the dishes, explaining each ingredient, cleared and crumbed the table after each course, told a few stories, and sent us home with a loaf of his bread and another complementary bottle of wine. Oh, and he also grew and prepared every morsel that we ate, except for the meat dishes which he 'only' did the butchering on!

                                                      1. re: DrewEck
                                                        financialdistrictresident RE: DrewEck Jul 16, 2009 02:32 PM

                                                        rrems and DrewEck, thanks for sharing your experiences. I am patiently waiting for that phone call advising we have a reservation . . .didn't give a date or time. Thanks again for the Greenville 1899 Inn suggestion. Hopefully we will need it soon.

                                                        1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                                          Miss Needle RE: financialdistrictresident Sep 11, 2009 08:21 PM

                                                          FDR, you must give several dates and be really flexible in order to get a reservation. I was extremely EXTREMELY lucky. This was my first time trying to get a reservation, and I was very persistent and had the privilege of eating there last night. It's truly wonderful and the most unique food experience I have ever had. I just wanted to give Damon a hug and a kiss after dinner, but I thought that would be taking it too far. When I was talking to Terrence (the guy who takes the reservations), he said that it was really difficult to accommodate people because they generally give only one date and one time. Flexibility is really key. We worked a trip out to Lake George (where I am now) around the Basement Bistro reservation. I am so happy that I was able to eat there. Chef Damon is a true delight, and quite a rarity. He has actually inspired me to try growing my own stevia. He doesn't use refined sugar in his food, and a lot of his food is sweetened with homemade stevia syrup. Such a huge difference from the commercial sources of stevia out there. And he generally doesn't use dairy or butter, preferring to add richness using alternative methods. He feels that dairy and butter occlude the taste buds a bit, and doesn't allow the true flavor of the food to shine through.

                                                          I hope you are able to get a reservation one day. I hope everybody gets to experience this at least once in his or her lifetime. He's truly the real thing. He's taken the farm-to-table concept to the extreme, and has been doing this long before it was "fashionable." A night I will never forget.

                                                          1. re: Miss Needle
                                                            financialdistrictresident RE: Miss Needle Sep 16, 2009 10:51 AM

                                                            Thanks for your report and suggestions, Miss Needle. When I called I said we were very flexible and open to any date. I will call again right now.

                                                            1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                                              financialdistrictresident RE: financialdistrictresident Sep 17, 2009 08:39 AM

                                                              Terrence called yesterday and now I'm in the database . . . Once Chef Damon's TV shows are taped the odds of getting a reservation may go down dramatically.

                                                              1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                                                Miss Needle RE: financialdistrictresident Sep 17, 2009 09:39 AM

                                                                Cool. Hope you get a reservation soon. The Obamas also have expressed interest in having one of their date nights there. So if or when that happens, I think it will be over for us mere mortals trying to score a reservation there.

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle
                                                                  TonyO RE: Miss Needle Sep 18, 2009 04:46 PM

                                                                  I'm sure they won't have to wait (unless the owner of BB is a Republican........................)

                                                                  1. re: TonyO
                                                                    davmar77 RE: TonyO Jun 25, 2010 10:25 AM

                                                                    this place sounds too good to be true. i just added our name to the waiting list, however long it may be. the person taking the reservation told me something interesting. their zagat rating dropped by a point as a result of a competitor giving multiple bad ratings under false user names but it should be fixed soon. amazing.

                                                                    1. re: davmar77
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                                                                      Avalondaughter RE: davmar77 Jun 25, 2010 02:02 PM

                                                                      How intriguiging. I'd love to konw who that competitor is!

                                                                      1. re: davmar77
                                                                        financialdistrictresident RE: davmar77 Nov 29, 2011 04:52 AM

                                                                        davmar77, have you gone yet?

                                                                        1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                                                          davmar77 RE: financialdistrictresident Nov 30, 2011 11:01 AM

                                                                          not yet. waiting patiently...

                                                                          1. re: davmar77
                                                                            financialdistrictresident RE: davmar77 May 12, 2012 09:22 AM

                                                                            davmar77, still waiting?

                                                                            1. re: financialdistrictresident
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                                                                              Roger K RE: financialdistrictresident May 12, 2012 09:58 PM

                                                                              A friend posted on his Facebook page that he had just returned from a five hour tasting at the Basement Bistro. I asked him how long ago he made reservations and his response was "2009"!!!

                                                                              1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                                                                davmar77 RE: financialdistrictresident May 14, 2012 09:15 AM

                                                                                still waiting.............

                                                                                maybe someday. good thing i'm not holding my breath! OY!

                                          3. c
                                            Chrish62 RE: rrems Jul 10, 2010 03:53 PM

                                            We were flexible and lucky enough to get a date last evening (my birthday). We live just south of Albany. Called in March with several dates and can say the experience was, WOW. Fabulous 4.5 hour experience nestled in a house in the woods. Chef Damon put out quite a spread. We were never left without something to eat. Homemade, cheeses, herbs and spices so absolutely mind blowing. He grows most everything he serves. The sample of meat, poultry and seafood was interesting. This is not your large portion, stuff yourself restaurant but an opportunity to savior flavors and enjoy small samples of many different foods. In some cases in a spoon. Chef Damon does it all solo as he is greeter, cook, and server. He goes into great detail explaining each item he has prepared and where it came from. I plan on putting my spouse and I on a wait list sometime next spring or summer. Expensive for sure but like nothing I have ever experienced before.

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: Chrish62
                                              financialdistrictresident RE: Chrish62 Jul 11, 2010 06:33 AM

                                              Thanks for the report, Chrish62.

                                              Still waiting . . .time to turn this over to SO, since we've been waiting to go since 2009!

                                              1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                                misnatalie RE: financialdistrictresident Jul 14, 2010 02:55 PM

                                                It's worth the wait. I was on the reservation list for almost 2 years and just went on Saturday. It was the most unique dinning experience of my life. I feel in love with Chef Damon's quirky genius and passion for his job.

                                                1. re: misnatalie
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                                                  cubanat RE: misnatalie Jul 16, 2010 06:36 PM

                                                  did you spend the night? i will be going mid-week do you think it's wise to get a room up there?

                                                  1. re: cubanat
                                                    financialdistrictresident RE: cubanat Jul 18, 2010 07:45 AM

                                                    Bon appetit! Please report back . . .

                                                    If you read Bumstead's post in this thread it has a hotel suggestion.

                                                    1. re: cubanat
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                                                      DGresh RE: cubanat Jul 18, 2010 07:59 AM

                                                      It really depends on your distance, but for many of us earlton is a couple hours away; we started our dinner at 5:15 and walked out at 10:15. I can't imagine having to drive back down to Westchester after that!

                                                  2. re: financialdistrictresident
                                                    financialdistrictresident RE: financialdistrictresident Jun 19, 2011 06:42 AM

                                                    Well, SO has failed miserably because we still have not had dinner at The Basement Bistro . . .

                                                    I may have to get on a plane and head to Alinea first.

                                                    Has anyone been recently?

                                                2. r
                                                  RussGrimaldi RE: rrems Sep 13, 2010 12:58 PM

                                                  Basement Bistro is BY FAR the best restaurant in America. It rivals many Michelin star empires in Barcelona and Paris. Amazingly... AMAZINGLY, very few people know of Chef Damon and his establishment, located about 20 miles south of Albany, NY. Each dinner takes roughly 4-5 hours, consisting of 10-15 courses including sorbets. As stated in my Zagat review, the English language fails to provide words adequate enough to describe the experience. Enough said, it takes about 1 year to obtain reservations. Try and keep trying however, as real foodies must visit.

                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                   
                                                  1. Motosport RE: rrems Jun 20, 2011 02:58 PM

                                                    Fabulous! Fabulous! Fabulous! We love this place so much we had them cater our wedding.
                                                    Damon is a wizard in the kitchen and an avid motorcycle rider too!!

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Motosport
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                                                      aldontay RE: Motosport Jun 20, 2011 05:55 PM

                                                      interesting

                                                      1. re: Motosport
                                                        financialdistrictresident RE: Motosport Jun 21, 2011 05:07 AM

                                                        Motosport, maybe I'll have to get married again to experience Chef Damon's food . . .almost forgot about his catering business . . .

                                                        1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                                          Motosport RE: financialdistrictresident Jun 21, 2011 06:25 AM

                                                          I am sure you can find an excuse for a kick ass party.

                                                      2. e
                                                        ELA RE: rrems Nov 29, 2011 09:18 AM

                                                        I have not been there, and like many others look forward to going.

                                                        I do know several people who have been there and ALL of them rave about the food and the experience. Other than the reservation process/aspect, everyone seems to thoroughly enjoy the food and their meal experience.

                                                        Also, as an FYI -- it seems the pricing is now at $175 per person not including drinks, tax or tip.

                                                        6 Replies
                                                        1. re: ELA
                                                          Sra. Swanky RE: ELA Nov 29, 2011 09:43 AM

                                                          "links42: We've paid $75pp, $65pp,$72pp& $68pp w/o wine tax & grat over the 4 times we've gone. $ change depending on ingredients. As I mentioned, if it was double the price, it would still be a great value."

                                                          $175 per person? Yikes - that's a little steep to justify that amount! Quite a big jump from the 2008 prices. Sorry Chef Damon, you priced me out!

                                                          1. re: Sra. Swanky
                                                            o
                                                            otisman RE: Sra. Swanky May 16, 2012 11:06 AM

                                                            The website now quotes $195 as the going price -- is it really worth that much money? Obviously the demand must push up the price, but $195!!!

                                                            1. re: otisman
                                                              financialdistrictresident RE: otisman May 17, 2012 05:30 AM

                                                              Less than Per Se's $295 (includes service). . .

                                                              http://www.perseny.com/

                                                              I need to call and see if we're still on that long list :)

                                                              1. re: financialdistrictresident
                                                                davmar77 RE: financialdistrictresident Dec 10, 2012 11:54 AM

                                                                i had a call the other day with a message that they have changed over to e-mail reservations and that i should get in touch that way if i'm still interested and let them know it's been 3 years(!) since i left my name. at this point the price is up to $235 per person so i decided not to get in touch. i just can't justify spending that much, not until i win the lottery anyway. too bad. i'll just have to settle for yono's. ;-) by the way, we had an amazing meal there for a hurricane sandy benefit not long ago. all proceeds went to the red cross.

                                                                1. re: davmar77
                                                                  d
                                                                  DGresh RE: davmar77 Dec 10, 2012 12:16 PM

                                                                  That price is really outrageous. I ate there many years ago. It was well under 100. A bargain at that price to be sure, but not *that* much of a bargain.

                                                                  1. re: davmar77
                                                                    r
                                                                    rrems RE: davmar77 Dec 10, 2012 08:59 PM

                                                                    I've been there twice, a while back, and enjoyed it, but... Only a few years ago is was $75, and a reasonable deal at that price, but it's the sort of thing you try once or twice for the experience, and then it's just the same old thing. Nice, but not a must. It is in no way worth $235, but for the 1%, who fly in for dinner, he can get away with it. He might as well charge $1000. They won't even notice.

                                                          2. r
                                                            rkaene RE: rrems Dec 10, 2012 06:14 PM

                                                            Does that price include wine? Can you bring your own? If not what is the price range of the wine list?

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: rkaene
                                                              d
                                                              DGresh RE: rkaene Dec 10, 2012 07:14 PM

                                                              the price does not include wine. Don't know if you can bring your own, but when I went (many years ago) the wine bottle prices were "typical" for fine restaurants. That is, starting at say 40-50 dollars and going up. Prices are probably higher now.

                                                              1. re: DGresh
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                                                                tommyharding RE: DGresh Dec 10, 2012 07:51 PM

                                                                My wife and i ate there 5 years ago and i was not "wowed" like so many others that dined there. Our dinner was good, not great and much of it was no better than mediocre. I did not like the "story" on every plate and found the service choppy and slow. of course this is because it is a one man show, but still we found it off putting. We paid $275 with meal wine and tip. I just dont see how the new prices make this worth it. Our experience would not merit that price point.

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