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Jul 13, 2008 11:19 AM

12 Grapes, Peekskill, NY

i just posted something similar to this as a reply in another thread.... hope that i'm not violating any rules of etiquette by posting it in a new one here.

i've been to 12 grapes ( 12 times in the last 12 weeks (yeah, the repeated number looks contrived, but it's not off by more than 1 or 2). and, while i've also been to at least a few of the conventionally-regarded-best restaurants in westchester over the years -- zeph's, stone barns, iron horse, trotters, xaviers (h20, garrison (extinct), and piermont, tho the latter 2 don't exactly qualify as "westchester") -- there's no place i'd rather go than to this new place in peekskill.

the food is excellent and quite reasonably priced (i believe it'd still represent great value at a 20% bump-up), the owners and staff are friendly and courteous to a fault, the decor and ambience superb, and the consistently outstanding live jazz / blues / rock'n'roll doesn't get any better -- at least, not anywhere that i know of in this county, nor within a significant radius thereof. and if you don't care for the musical genre being offered on any given evening (check their events page to find out what's coming up), the entertainment in any case generally won't start rolling until 9pm-ish, so there's plenty of time for quiet conversation over dinner if you schedule accordingly.

i've tried a number of their dishes -- mushroom ravioli (which i have a difficult time resisting whenever i'm there), chicken caesar, pizza margarita, grilled king salmon, pan-seared chicken, new york strip, crème brûlée (another one that's hard to resist) -- and have yet to find anything evenly remotely approaching "eh, not so good".

"life-changing" might appear as moderate-to-absurd hyperbole here, but i've nevertheless described "the grapes" that way to any number of friends (and have never done so with respect to any other chow-related experience).

it would naturally be interesting to hear other opinions, pro and con, about what i believe is a great new westchester eatery!

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    1. I agree with you!! Music great, atmosphere great- the quickest & best redo I've seen. The food is good, they seem to be really working hard tweaking the menu. Service at dinner was good, lunch less so. The owner is a great guy- he really listens to the customers.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rkaene

        Went last night to try out 12 Grapes, with mixed results. Roxy Perry, blues singer and a parade of guests was a highlight, for certain. Food varied from decent to very good: quality, fresh salads (the house greens, and the arugula/goat cheese): rack of lamb perfectly done with yummy sauce (on the side in a cute little pot), but set back by overly sweet carrots and overcooked brocoli rabe (so sad to see it treated so badly); angel hair pasta was tasty, but no peas as advertised, and tomatoes, not mentioned in the menu; mahi mahi nicely done with a yummy rice underneath; good fettucine with bolognese. Desserts ordered were mango sorbet and ganache brownie (hard to admit, but too sweet). Good wine list, good and friendly service. OK mixed drinks (sad to see mine arrive looking a little short on "drink" and heavy on ice, sticking out like lonely icebergs amidst the bourbon). But we'd go back, and wish them all the best. A little lighter hand with the carmelizing, sugar and such would go a long way, and let those brocoli rabe find their way to perfection, rather than overdone-ness. Glad to have something SO much better than the other mid-priced options in Peeksill!

      2. Sorry to say but I had just the oppostie experience. The ambiance and decor are very nice and there is a nice selection of wines by the glass but thats all of the praise I can give. Our appetizers arrived late and cold. The turkish eggplant was obviously "nuked" and was cold in most places, the tuna tatare was bland and unoriginal but I have to say the rib appetizer was very tasty. The fish entee was bland and not delivered hot. The rack of lamb had to be sent back twice and the owner was arguing with me about how I should order my meat and on the last try, she brought the lamb out raw. BTW, I have been a chef for over 25yrs so I think I know how meat should be cooked. Chef card aside, I really am not the type to scrutinize a dining experience, I want to enjoy my time off and always walk in with high hopes. Unfortunatley, 12 grapes fell short for me.

        1. I've been to 12 Grapes and enjoyed it for what it was, a fun lively place with good music but I wouldn't compare the food scend to Zeph's, Iron Horse etc. But it is good decent food that we all liked. I do agree with Nancy though, thought the mixed drinks were a little overpriced and under liquored.

          5 Replies
          1. re: GIOny

            Good heavens, no way anyone should compare this food to Zeph's, Iron Horse, and the like! 12 Grapes is good (if uneven, it seems from other's experiences), and a nice, welcome addition to the Peekskill scene. Perhaps they can slim the menu down a bit and do fewer things REALLY well? I'm thinking it's on par with Juliana's in Cortlandt, Justin Thyme in Croton on a good night? That said, wishing them well (would be nice to have another music venue - the schlep to Town Crier is a bit much!

            1. re: Nancy C

              It could be that comparing 12 Grapes to Iron Horse, Zeph's, etc is de gustibus blasphemy. I'll admit to having tried those others only once or twice, and in some cases many years ago. My distinct recollection of Iron Horse was "ya, pretty ok", tho I can't recite specifics. Same re Xavier (Piermont), where at least one of our party was seriously unhappy with the curt treatment we received. And, as I've said, I've been to 12 Grapes many times. So maybe a prerequisite for a fairer comparison, both from me and others, is a few visits to each of the establishments being compared. I suggest that those having tried the Grapes only once and come away with a mixed reaction give it another shot or two; I'll try to do likewise with the other chow emporiums that I mentioned. (Btw, I've been to Justin Thyme a couple of times -- a decent place, but my reaction to the comparison between it and 12 Grapes mirrors the above 2.)

              1. re: Nancy C

                Is the food at least better than when it was Susan's? We ate there twice. The first time we hated it, but went back because WHUD had a free $50 gift certificate offer and I figured for close to free I might as well try it again. And I really wanted to like it given that it was an almost free meal, but I STILL didn't. I will admit that I know people who loved Susan's, so maybe 12 Grapes is carrying on with that tradition of being a favorite for some and so-so for others.

                1. re: MisterBill2

                  i ate at susan's 3 or 4 times many years ago right after it first opened. i vaguely recall being moderately impressed, but not overly. never went back after the 1st year or so, which is consistent with that recollection.

                  i (obviously) have a very different take re the latest incarnation.

                  1. re: hubBubba

                    Well, given that I was thoroughly unimpressed with the prior incarnation, I think I will pass on the current version as well.

            2. the aug17 nytimes / m.h.reed review of 12 Grapes can be found here:


              echoing my earlier sentiment, the mushroom ravioli gets a "terrific dish" rating.

              overall, quite positive i think, as those things go...

              4 Replies
              1. re: hubBubba

                "Overall, quite positive"??? I think this review is a draw, at best. They like half of what they had, and gave an "nope" to many dishes that should be reliable, easy to deliver on standards (steak, salmon, chocolate cake, cheesecake, veggies)

                With some thoughtful choices, you can have a good meal at 12 Grapes. Gotta avoid the duds... and there are enough to make this a russian roulette eating experience. That said, glad they are there and that others have blazed the trail through this mine field of a menu. We'll happily go and eat the best of the bunch.

                1. re: Nancy C

                  I thought the review was quite positive, actually. The reviewer had complaints about a number of dishes, but none of those were deal-breakers. She didn't deem any dish 'dreadful' or inedible. In general, the review gave the idea that 12 Grapes is not the place to go if you are after a stunning meal, but that the space is appealing and the food is generally quite good--and that for a music venue it is much better than one would expect. All in all, I'd say that is pretty positive.

                  1. re: dma1250

                    I was pleasantly surprised when I Googled "wine bar" and "Westchester" and this location came up. My wife and I stopped in for a glass of wine and stayed for dinner. We ate at the bar. The steamed clams with chorizo in a tomato broth were served hot, tender, not rubbery. We split an order of pappardelle with chicken and shrimp. The pasta was al dente and sauce balanced and seasoned well. Had a lovely conversation with bar staff, owner and wait staff. It was early evening on a Sunday and a few diners were there. It wasn't crowded or hurried. I recently moved from Kentucky, where there are several excellent wine bar/restaurants. (L&N in Louisville). This is a good example of the genre.
                    The 12 theme is carried to the wine cruvinette, 6 red and 6 white available by the glass. I'd like to see a few more and flights available. Even better, a flight-appetizer combo. I'd like to see a few more topshelf bourbons appear. (I did mention I was from Kentucky!!). I was pleased to see Maker's Mark and joyous to see Elijah Craig 18 YO single barrel.
                    I'll visit again.

                    1. re: pepcycle

                      Pour in Mt Kisco has a nice selection of hard to find bourbons. and other boutique spririts.