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Aug 4, 2009 10:55 AM

Terrapin in Rhinebeck and Bear Cafe in Bearsville (Woodstock)

We stopped by Terrapin in Rhinebeck for a late dinner. We ate at the dining room, not bistro. This is what we had:

duck quesedilla wedge (from tapas menu)
roasted mission figs stuffed with roquefort
maple-brined pork chop with apple-calvados demi-glace served with sweet potato gratin
grilled lambchops with blackberry glaze served with corn polenta
peach cobbler

The duck quesedilla wedge was OK. Probably wouldn't order it again as I found the flavors a bit muddled. The roasted mission figs were delicious. I don't think I've encountered figs that small, but they were really flavorful. The pork chop was awesome as well. DH thought it was a bit too sweet, but I thought it was fine. It was juicy, well-cooked and chock full of flavor. The sweet potato gratin was light and you can see that it was actually kind of labor intensive as the sweet potato rounds were stacked carefully on top of each other. The grilled lamb chops were good, but I loved the sweet cor polenta. It was a pretty loose polenta studded with sauteed corn kernels. Really fresh-tasting. And the peach cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream was good, though I thought that a scoop of ginger ice cream would totally hit the spot. Big eaters, rejoice. Portions were humongous. We could only finish about half of our entrees (and we were still so stuffed).

On our way back to NYC, we were originally going to get some Korean food at Palisades. But due to timing issues, we decided to go to Bear Cafe in Bearsville. Oh, I absolutely love that place! We were lucky enough to score a table by the stream. It was really beautiful with the stream running below us and the trees surrounding the terrace. Surprisingly, we didn't encounter too many ants or bugs eating out there. I didn't really know too much about the place so I didn't know what to expect (Chow Mobile sucks). The menu actually looked a bit cheesy (with the plastic coating), so I thought I'd stick with more basic offerings and ordered a burger and fries. Dang! That was a great burger. Perfectly cooked medium-rare, juicy and delicious. It was served on a brioche bun with lettuce, a slice of perfectly ripe tomato and red onion. The fries were delicious as well. My only quibble is that they needed to salt them after cooking. DH ordered the lobster and shrimp with tomatoes and opal basil over linguine. It was cooked so well and the ingredients were top-notch. We also ordered appetizers of crab cocktail and smoked salmon and potato cake. Well executed with a lot of thought into the presentation. It was a perfect evening with the beautiful setting and the wonderful food. We will definitely be heading to the Bear Cafe more often when we pass through the area.

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  1. Its funny that you mention "sweet" several times in discussing Terrapin, as I think all of their food is too sweet. I used to go, hoping each time it would be better. It never was. I'll stick to better restaurants in the area....

    2 Replies
    1. re: adegiulio

      Yeah, you're right. I did say "sweet" an awful lot. I think the chef does have a propensity for sweet items. I liked it, but preferred Bear Cafe. I don't see myself going back to Terrapin but will be going back to Bear Cafe.

      1. re: okaychow

        I guess I should have explained myself better. I live in NYC and am not in the area very often. So my criteria for a "go-back-again" restaurant in an area outside of my hometown is pretty high. If I lived in Rhinebeck, I'd probably be going back. Overall, Terrapin was fine, but did not meet my standards where I felt it was worth another visit considering that I live 2.5 hours away. I found Bear Cafe to be a much more special experience than Terrapin and warrants a second visit IMHO.

        ETA: So it doesn't seem like I'm totally off-the-wall and talking to myself, I was responding to a poster named "okaychow" who questioned why I said I wasn't going back to Terrapin even though I liked it. Apparently, okaychow's post was pulled.

    2. Love Bear cafe....especially outside by the stream. It's a perfect spot to dine outside. I'm still wondering why people love Terrapin. I went 2x and both times found it very forgettable. (note I ate one time in the dining room and the other in the bistro)

      3 Replies
      1. I've always thought Terrapin was the most over rated restaurant in the Hudson Valley since the first location opened in Hurley. I had probably the single worst dining experience of my life in the new location but decided to let that go since it was shortly after they opened. I've gone back about once a year since and have yet to be impressed.

        1. re: jaylowe

          Agreed. I've ended up there several times due to it's location (right across the street from the wonderful Upstate Films) and I've never had a good meal there. I much prefer Gigi's across the street.

          1. re: sirenoftitan

            went to terrapin last year for the film festival
            had a nice meal and the service was wonderful
            it is not a great meal but a meal certainly enjoyable
            went to the bear cafe last week driving from the woodstock museum which is well worth visiting
            the bear cafe was excellent
            minor quibbles, the mussels had a nice sauce but the mussels themselves were way too tiny, no meat
            the scallop chowder looked good but did not taste good.
            the burger was ab fab the fried onion rings and fries quite addictive
            my wife's soft shell crab just okay
            now my order of grilled sardines was magfnicent
            the sardines big and toothsome, the peppers underneath yummy.
            the sine a rose from france was apt and well priced
            the peach cobbler was sinful
            my wife said the hot fudge sundae was just ok
            all in all be careful what you order and you will do just fine
            stick to the simple preparations is my re
            good eating

      2. My husband and I eat at the bistro side of the Terrapin often and have consistently good meals. Solid service, fresh ingredients.