Oakhurst Diner in Millerton, Dutchess County
Comfort fare made with farm-fresh ingredients
It’s not often that you stroll into an old-style, 1950s diner and find a menu noting that the beef in the burger came from the organic farm up the road. But that’s the case at the Oakhurst Diner in Millerton, where I went with my friend Carol last week after a prolonged browse at the town’s big antiques store. We’d planned to be Ladies Who Lunch at 52 Main, the new tapas place, but it’s open only for dinner. So instead we became Ladies Who Lunch in a Diner — not the same cachet, perhaps, but Oakhurst is a cut above.
Until a couple of years ago, it was called simply the Millerton Diner, dishing up the usual greasy-spoon grub. Then it was taken over and spiffed up, but it still has that easygoing diner feel, with Formica tables and stainless steel pedestal stools at the counter. Servers bop around wearing brown and orange T-shirts with the diner’s logo on one side and the motto “Good Food” on the other.
An exotic tropical bloom in a vase on each table instead of the customary plastic rose is another sign that the plan here is to offer something more upscale. The menu is fairly brief, but includes things like edamame dumplings and organic brown rice alongside the usual egg dishes, chili, meatloaf and such. Specials are usually of the hearty variety (last weekend’s was braised oxtail stew.) There’s a nice range of unusual beers and wines, as well as a full bar. And the coffee is really good, as is the tea from Harney down the block.
My burger was juicy and really tasty — I chose the more expensive, organic one made with grass-fed beef because I am super picky about ground beef. A generous side of sweet potato fries was terrific, even though the fries slowly went limp before I finished them (getting them crispy in the first place is surprisingly difficult). Carol rated her tuna on toasted whole wheat a solid eight, but she was comparing it to her mother’s version, which always pulled a nine or 10, so it wasn’t really fair. Her regular fries could have used a second dunk in the fryer to get them more golden.
Locals seem ambivalent about Oakhurst, probably because prices are on the higher side for what’s really still basic fare. My higher-end burger was $12.99, for example. But if you’re choosy about where your food comes from, you won’t mind shelling out a few extra bucks. And if you’re not feeling flush, you can get a Vienna beef dog for just $2.99.
Oakhurst serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. When the weather’s nice, you can eat outside on the patio and watch the world of Millerton pass by. I’ve heard there’s also the occasional celebrity sighting.