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4 nights at the Mohonk Mountain House over July 4th weekend...

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OliverB Jun 1, 2013 12:35 PM

I just booked 4 nights at the Mohonk between July 1st and July 4th.

We have reservations in the formal dining room for the first 3 nights and for their outdoor lobster boil in the Granary on July 4th (followed by fireworks at night).

I would have loved to have eaten at A Tvaola in New Paltz as well, however they are closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. We don't want to miss the outdoor lobster boil and fireworks on Thursday, July 4th and don't want to leave the Mohonk right after checking in on our first night (we're driving up from NYC) so we're stuck with the formal dining room or buffet at the Mohonk for the first 3 nights.

Can anyone please give me an idea of what to expect? I'm always a bit wary about overpriced assembly line meals with recycled ingredients at large resorts like this. How does the kitchen fare?

Lastly, are there any really great restaurants in town that you would recommend as an alternate dining option for at least one of the nights? We're from San Francisco but will have been in NYC for a week prior to arrival at the Mohonk, so we're used to eating well!

Part of the appeal of the Mohonk for me is the immersive experience of staying in a historic mountain retreat buried deep in the valleys surrounded by picturesque Catskill landscapes. While it will surely be a tourist family circus over the July 4th weekend, it's still an escape from city life, and we want to spend the majority of our time lounging dockside, boating and swimming in Mohonk Lake, exploring the scenic trailheads, stirring old fashioned cocktails fireside in the great lounges and parlors, etc. In other words, I want to dig our roots at the Mohonk and drive into town as little as possible over the course of our stay! However, we want to eat well and the meals are expensive - we'll be really bummed if we end up with recycled stews and soups from the previous nights dinners by the end of our stay!

All that to say... can anyone please give me an idea for where to set expectations for dining at the Mohonk and whether it would be advised to eat a few good meals in a nearby town, assuming any exist? Are there any TRULY amazing and inspiring restaurants within a 20 min. drive that would be worth our time and effort?

Or should we give the Mohonk a pass by overlooking the food and just enjoying the unparalleled surroundings?

Thanks in advance for your input!

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    wincountrygirl RE: OliverB Jun 1, 2013 01:01 PM

    Don't set your expectations high. The food is mediocre. The BBQ lunch is nice. The buffet breakfast and lunches are abundant. The formal dining is a bit better but not great. But, the buffet dining room is very nice, very lodge-like. The mountains are wonderful and the hiking paths are great. The rooms are old and ours actually sloped. It's a bit like staying at the hotel from The Shining. The rockers on the porch are nice but you'll never get one. And the kids....... Oh, there is a great spa.

    2 Replies
    1. re: wincountrygirl
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      OliverB RE: wincountrygirl Jun 1, 2013 02:08 PM

      Thanks so much!

      You hit the nail on the head... The one downside I'm not looking forward to are the crowds and parades of kids running around the property. I just hope we won't run into the same problem with the canoes and boat rentals as we do those porch rockers! We're staying in one of the antique Victorian 'tower rooms' in the turrets with views over the lake, so I have high expectations for the accommodations. It's such a beautiful place that we'll have a great time regardless!

      Would you recommend cancelling one of our formal dinners for a buffet meal, or will we be eating breakfasts and brunches in the same lodge-style room? I'm generally not big on buffet style dining. My wife is a pescatarian so she usually has more trouble than I do with resort food (we visit a lot of Nat'l Parks in California!)

      Are there optional barbecues in the evenings as well, or is that only during the afternoons in the Granary?

      I'm just trying to decide whether three consecutive meals in the same dining room will be too much... do you remember if the menu varied much between nights?

      Thanks again!

      1. re: OliverB
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        wincountrygirl RE: OliverB Jun 2, 2013 04:44 AM

        I think the meals were included, but it's been about 3 years. Breakfast and lunch are served in the lodge style room and breakfast was good, lunch not so much. My husband and I are not fans of buffet either. I'm sorry I don't remeber much about optional,evening meals. But, the town is really cute and I bet you could find some nice places to eat there. I'm sure your room will be lovely, and the area is majestic.

    2. i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream RE: OliverB Jun 1, 2013 01:02 PM

      Hi OliverB,
      I can't personally comment on the food at Mohonk since I've never eaten there, but I can assure you that the area is very beautiful and you will not be disappointed at the scenery. I understand your feelings as a fellow CH since you will no doubt be eating extremely well in NYC and you're used to excellent chow coming from SF. But I might do as you say in your final sentence, and focus more on the scenery for your Mohonk leg of the trip than expecting to be blown away by the food.

      My husband has been to a lot of work retreats at Mohonk and he said the food is fine ( and that there is a lot of variety). I'm sure others on this board will chime in with some local recommendations. The town of New Paltz itself is cute to walk around. I've heard of the Gilded Otter but haven't been. (http://www.gildedotter.com/splash.htm

      )

      You also may want to check out the Shawangunk Wine Trail. The quality of wine probably won't blow you away coming from CA but it is beautiful driving around to the different wineries. Brotherhood is cool, and Stoutridge has an especially interesting philosophy. Not sure if you'll have kids with you or not but a lot of these places would be totally fine to bring kids. ( http://www.shawangunkwinetrail.com/wi...

      )

      I'm not sure what route you are taking up, but if you are going up the west side of the river, and are at all into beer or amazing buildings, give Newburgh Brewing Company a try. They are turning out fine beer in a converted paper factory and the space is incredible. This is very family friendly (lots of games for big and little kids :) and a fun, chill place to hang out with great views of the river. (The area is a little dicey but don't worry.) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/868687

      I really think you will enjoy your time in the Hudson Valley after what I'm sure will be a jam-packed week in the city. Relax and enjoy!

      See you on the SF board, as I'm planning my 10 day trip to SF, Sonoma county, and Mendocino... I am having similar reservations about our trip to Mendocino, where food options seem really limited compared to our first 7 days, but the scenery looks like it will make up for the food!

      1 Reply
      1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream
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        OliverB RE: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream Jun 1, 2013 02:19 PM

        Thanks so much for all of your great tips and suggestions; I'm looking into all of them now! I'm trying to determine the most interesting and scenic route to take and will map out all great food stops en route too.

        I'd be glad to help you with any SF, Sonoma and Mendo suggestions too... don't miss Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino btw, the one and only truly great meal we've had there. Apparently there's a good burger place too, but we didn't try it.

        Thanks again for all the tips!!

      2. MGZ RE: OliverB Jun 1, 2013 02:25 PM

        The spa is great. The food is B-. The area is terrific.

        New Paltz is a very cool town and the ideas posted by others are solid.

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          OliverB RE: OliverB Jun 1, 2013 03:00 PM

          Has anyone eaten at The Village Tea Room Restaurant & Bake Shop in New Paltz and if so, is it worth a visit for lunch or dinner?

          1. sbp RE: OliverB Jun 1, 2013 04:00 PM

            I've eaten at the buffet dinner - think old time boarding school food and you won't be far off. Don't focus on the food - it's just not on a Chowhound level.

            The rooms (old fashioned upscale), hiking trails, common areas and lake are magnificent, though (as is the next door Shawangunk Preserve - we like to hike to the top of Bonticou Crag).

            The town of New Paltz is quaint college townie. Haven't had any NYC level dinners there, but we like Main Street Bistro for funky omelettes and granola bowls, good burgers.

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              OliverB RE: OliverB Jun 1, 2013 06:52 PM

              Thanks for the feedback everyone!!

              I've decided that we're gonna do the historic route from Manhattan - Nyack - Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown - Stony Point - Bear Mountain State Park - Monroe - Goshen - Washingtonville - New Paltz to Mohonk.

              We'll probably be in Nyack at around noon and I was hoping to eat lunch at either Hudson House or Velo - neither of which are open on Mondays, the day we're traveling!

              I normally prefer more rustic and greasy roadfood when driving in the mountains, but as we'll be on a Mohonk resort diet for a few days following, I'm hoping someone can recommend a really dynamite meal en route. I'm willing to take a 15-20 mins (max!) detour for a great and proper sit-down lunch. Is there anything to recommend that sits closely along the route we'll be driving, hugging the Hudson? Is Nyack likely our best bet outside of NYC proper? I want to leave the city early and would prefer to skip breakfast and hit the road to avoid the inevitable traffic. I would've considered the detour to Ocean House (Croton-on-Hudson) though it's a bit off the route, but they're also closed Mondays and only open late-afternoon. I'm looking for something special, if possible. Think Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills... only open mid-day on a Monday! That's a tough one. I checked all of those Xavier's restaurants in Piermont and even the cafes are closed on Mondays. Anyhow, if that ain't happening, then just a really great and unique local dining spot with good regional fare or interesting ambiance will do. Think lovely old cottage or farm house turned bistro kind of thing. Or just a killer (preferably oldschool) roadfood stop if nothing else. Most seem to be further upstate.

              Thanks for any tips!!

              10 Replies
              1. re: OliverB
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                OliverB RE: OliverB Jun 1, 2013 08:01 PM

                Just discovered Equus Restaurant in Tarrytown - looks spot-on with regards to the 'unique ambiance' factor! Can anyone comment on the food/lunch menu?

                1. re: OliverB
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                  wincountrygirl RE: OliverB Jun 2, 2013 04:47 AM

                  Yes, I've had lunch at Equis for a meeting and lunch was good. Dinner for our anniversary was overpriced and not up to the hype. But it's really beautiful.

                2. re: OliverB
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                  DGresh RE: OliverB Jun 2, 2013 04:57 AM

                  You're probably not going to find anything BHSB level, but Peekskill has a couple of places that are above average, but you'd have to cross the Bear Mountain Bridge rather than the Tappan Zee (but the drive from Peekskill to the BMB is extremely picturesque). And BTW I don't think you're missing anything by missing Ocean House in Croton. If you don't mind continuing further north into Cold Spring, there are some nice places there that people may chime in on (Cathryns, Hudson House). In that case you'd cross at the Newburgh Beacon bridge. There are probably some nice places in Beacon but that's beyond my neighborhood-- Good luck! And Mohonk is absolutely lovely. I don't remember the food being bad; it's just that it's not what you go for. It's perfectly acceptable.

                  http://peekskillbrewery.wordpress.com/

                  http://birdsallhouse.net/

                  1. re: OliverB
                    i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream RE: OliverB Jun 2, 2013 05:13 AM

                    As was discussed on a recent thread (someone passing through Westchester on the way from Philly) you will not find anything else at the level of BHSB in the county, and Mondays will be especially hard. I would've suggested X2O but it also seems to be closed on Mondays. Equus is gorgeous and their food is good but it's very formal and the food doesn't thrill me.

                    For fine dining, I would recommend Kittle House, which is open for lunch on Mondays and shouldn't be too terribly out of the way. It is in a beautiful historic house and the food is wonderful. http://kittlehouse.com/

                    For casual, I agree with Dgresh on Birdsall House in Peekskill, one of my regular spots. It's also in a historic building and it's run by the same people as Blind Tiger Ale House in NYC, so it has a city-type ambiance and really great creative pub food. Not a light meal though by any means.

                    If you do make it up to Beacon, 9D is really a beautiful drive. My favorite burger place (Poppy's, which uses excellent grass-fed beef from Kiernan Farm) is currently undergoing renovation but should be open by the time you are up there, though I'm not certain they will be open on Mondays. The little main street there is quite charming and has a lot of little shops and cafes. Again, you may run into trouble with the Monday factor. www.poppyburger.com/

                    On the other side of the bridge, Warwick Valley Winery is very picturesque and has a cute cafe. They are open daily. http://wvwinery.com/home/ Their Doc's hard cider is ubiquitous in the area. Oh, I just looked more closely and only the tasting room is open daily. The cafe isn't open on Mondays.

                    1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream
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                      OliverB RE: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream Jun 2, 2013 08:29 AM

                      Thank you SO much... Kittle House looks perfect and is exactly what I was looking for!! Would you say that the menu and kitchen definitely rates higher than Equus? It looks really lovely and it's open daily for lunch which is great! Thanks again!! :)

                      Edit: Just realized that it's in Chappaqua which is almost a 40 min. detour. We may just end up at Equus afterall because of convenience and the setting, but I'll look into your other suggestions as well. I'd definitely prefer either a really special fine dining restaurant or a really quaint and pretty rural atmosphere like Kittle House. We want to leave the big city feel behind in NYC. :)

                      1. re: OliverB
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                        wincountrygirl RE: OliverB Jun 2, 2013 12:27 PM

                        Kittle house is way above Equus. You can go less formal too, at Kittle House and opt for the Tap room. They offer the tap room menu there and the formal menu. And you can't get a better wine list in Westchester!!!

                        1. re: OliverB
                          i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream RE: OliverB Jun 2, 2013 02:58 PM

                          Hmm, looking at a map I didn't realize it would be that far out of the way.

                          I'm not sure where you're eating in the city but Equus (in my opinion) won't compare to fine dining there. I find it a bit fussy for my taste, and as wincountrygirl says, I think Kittle House has it beat in terms of quality of food. However, that said, if it's a nice day (a bit hit or miss with humidity in July in NY) and you can eat out on the patio, it's a gorgeous setting and you can stroll around a bit. It's a unique place.

                          Two other ideas, both with river views and good (if not spectacular) food-- Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry and Red Hat in Irvington. Both are open for lunch on Mondays.

                          http://www.redhatbistro.com/index.html
                          http://halfmoonhudson.com/

                          1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream
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                            OliverB RE: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream Jun 2, 2013 06:19 PM

                            Thanks again -- Red Hat looks like a possibility and strong contender. Depuy in High Falls (suggested by Rolise) looks really charming but it's closed on Mondays.

                            1. re: OliverB
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                              MRS RE: OliverB Jun 3, 2013 03:31 PM

                              I would definitely NOT go out of your way for Red Hat. There are a number of places you could go instead.

                      2. re: OliverB
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                        Elisa515 RE: OliverB Jun 2, 2013 01:39 PM

                        Right near New Paltz is the Rosendale Cafe (in Rosendale). It's open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner. I'm not suggesting it as a "destination worthy" place like BHSB. However, we had delicious vegetarian, locally-sourced dinners there--this accolade from two non-vegetarians--and are hoping to return next time we head upstate.

                      3. mrsbuffer RE: OliverB Jun 2, 2013 01:50 PM

                        Mohonk has no air conditioning in the lodge or the rooms, IIRC.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mrsbuffer
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                          OliverB RE: mrsbuffer Jun 2, 2013 06:13 PM

                          They've updated their rooms and installed A/C. I'm sure the Tower Rooms were probably the first to be done so I'm not worried.

                        2. r
                          rolise RE: OliverB Jun 2, 2013 03:14 PM

                          There is the Depuy Canal House in High Falls near to Mohonk but it may only be open Friday, Sat and Sunday.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rolise
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                            OliverB RE: rolise Jun 2, 2013 06:19 PM

                            Yep, closed on Sunday unfortunately. It looks lovely though.

                          2. m
                            MRS RE: OliverB Jun 2, 2013 04:36 PM

                            We were at Mohonk a few years ago. It's fine. It's nice. It's outdoorsy. We weren't overly impressed with the food. It wasn't bad- it was just ok. we went to the Gilded Otter one night and we enjoyed it. Have fun!

                            1. t
                              tito RE: OliverB Jun 2, 2013 04:42 PM

                              I had a nice meal at the Rock & Rye in New Paltz last month. Decent wine list too!

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                                OliverB RE: OliverB Jun 4, 2013 01:55 PM

                                After all this, I think we've decided to eat a last brunch in the city (NYC) before hitting the road. Ha!

                                Thanks for all of the feedback and helpful suggestions!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: OliverB
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                                  wincountrygirl RE: OliverB Jun 4, 2013 02:15 PM

                                  That works too!! Enjoy and report back after your trip!

                                  1. re: OliverB
                                    i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream RE: OliverB Jun 4, 2013 03:58 PM

                                    Well I hope this thread is helpful to others in the future.

                                    Enjoy your trip!

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                                    chipmonger RE: OliverB Jun 4, 2013 02:28 PM

                                    If you want to get away from the resort for a casual meal (i.e. lunch) there is a Greek place in New Paltz called Yanni that is quite good and authentic. Seems popular with the local intelligentsia (SUNY teachers/profs) when school is in session.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: chipmonger
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                                      OliverB RE: chipmonger Jun 4, 2013 05:09 PM

                                      Thanks again everyone... and it will certainly be useful to us for future trips!! :)

                                      1. re: OliverB
                                        owlwoman RE: OliverB Jun 21, 2013 06:35 AM

                                        If you're doing brunch in the City, then you might want to stop for a "late" lunch at the CIA in Rhinebeck, well worth a visit:

                                        http://www.ciarestaurants.com/dininga...

                                        Just take the Taconic Parkway and cross the river at a later point...I live in Tarrytown and love taking trips up to this area (day trips).

                                        Also, FYI, Equus' restaurant is now led by the former chef from the Kittle House, have not read any recent reviews, but the Castle is quite a place.

                                        Hope this helps!

                                    2. p
                                      PlasticMoonRain RE: OliverB Jun 22, 2013 06:58 PM

                                      My son and I were literally at Mohonk this past week for two nights as a brief getaway, so consider this as up to date as possible.

                                      Let's get right to the food: it was better than I expected. You can't expect the equivalent as something like Stone Barns at a place like this. However, the breakfast and lunch buffets were plentiful and frankly, well done with good healthy choices. I had a mushroom egg white omelet on morning -- no problem -- and it was good. Fish for lunch? Easy. No heavy sauces, no overdoing, but really fine (and maybe more than fine) for a very populated dining room. Also had a "make your own taco" set-up for lunch that was good, along with some pieces of fish I had on the side with grains as well.

                                      And that main dining room is huge with high ceilings and a stunning view of the mountains. The waiter service was very good and friendly.

                                      For dinner, it was ordering off the menu. I was a bit surprised at the ambitious dishes on the menu. But again, they pulled it off fine with everything we had, from NY strip steaks to seafood. And they have an area of "kids foods" -- chicken tenders, pasta, etc. that the adults always sample from.

                                      And there was a different menu for the lunch buffet and dinner each night.

                                      One more thing: we had air conditioning in our room (408) so I have no idea what the previous poster (mrsbutter) was talking about.

                                      The hiking and lake and grounds are fantastic. That lake -- one can not say enough about it, really.

                                      The wi-fi is also some of the most consistently strongest I've ever encountered on a large report property.

                                      For me, the downsides were few: 1) for a pricey place, there is still some "nickel and diming" for a number of things, charging fees where it falls just short of annoying. 2) Other than the fitness center, there are two TVs for public use. I didn't mind not TVs in the room at all, but if you want to catch a sports event or something special, that's not much choice for a huge property... and 3) the billiard room would be way better in a room that was bigger. The room is too small on two sides so you can't extend your pool stick out sometimes, which is kind of ridiculous. They have got to move that billiards table somewhere bigger.

                                      1. l
                                        lavendula RE: OliverB Jun 23, 2013 05:45 PM

                                        One thing to note is that you are not allowed to drink alcohol on the property unless you are in the small bar or in the dining hall during meals. You cannot bring a drink onto the deck to watch the sunset or sit in your rocking chair...so if this is something you want to do I would suggest having a little something in your room ;)

                                        I have not found any restaurants in New Paltz to be worth a special trip so I'd just relax and enjoy :)

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: lavendula
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                                          MRS RE: lavendula Jun 23, 2013 06:58 PM

                                          true...good point, that's how we found ourselves at the Gilded Otter.

                                        2. s
                                          Sandy889 RE: OliverB Jul 1, 2013 07:50 PM

                                          Couple of options. Mohonk is a treasure, but Food just okay; nothing to write home about. Breakfast and barbecues the most fun and tea and cookies at 4pm of course; spa is great.
                                          A Tavola is the best, yes indeed. Options: One night, go into New Paltz at around 6pm and take out from the following place(s) and Then have a picnic dinner on the porch of your room at Mohonk or eat in town.
                                          Not fancy, but excellent food
                                          Main Course Restaurant (top caterer in Hudson Valley); serves excellent "to go" dinners or eat in with BYOB; Other option, eat at the Village Tea Room, which looks like a little country shack, but the food is great and do not miss the desserts, particularly their specialty cakes; The Village tea room is down the street from Starbucks behind the bank parking lot. Gadeleto's fish market has great white fish salad to go; "The Bakery" on front street in New Paltz has good bagels and bailies and great butter cookies; Jack's deli and meats makes great sandwiches.

                                          If you want to go out of New Paltz, then make a reservation for yourself at the Culinary Institue of America in Hyde Park, NY. Not to far from Mohonk. You can call for reservations: http://www.ciarestaurants.com/feature...
                                          good luck.

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