In 2006, conservationists and journalists — and husband and wife — Janet Crawshaw and Jerry Novesky launched Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (HVRW) featuring 70 restaurants. Ten years later, HVRW (taking place March 7-20) boasts more than 200 eateries, each of which offers a three-course lunch and/or dinner menu at a bargain price. The event showcases the area’s restaurants as well as its farmers, wine makers, brewers, distillers, artisanal producers, and purveyors, and underscores why the Hudson Valley is one of the nation’s premier culinary destinations.
In honor of this anniversary, we asked Crawshaw to pick the top 10 reasons why HVRW is special to her. In no particular order, they are:
Promoting the region. Two years ago, Crawshaw had dinner with Patrick Hooker, New York State’s deputy secretary of agriculture, at Terrapin Restaurant in Rhinebeck. “We both ordered the Maple-Brined Grilled Pork Chop with Calvados demi-glace and maple-bacon almonds, which had just won the Gold Crown Prize of the Crown Maple Challenge,” she says. “It’s a huge chop! Patrick ate all three courses, and there was no way I could match his appetite. It was also a nice opportunity to talk about the importance of agriculture to our region and to share a dish so grounded in the Hudson Valley, with locally sourced pork, maple syrup, and a Hudson Valley wine.”
Photograph by Jim Metzer/Simon Feldman Studio
Providing inspiration. “Chefs use Restaurant Week to get inspired for their late winter-early spring menus,” she says. At the Village Tea Room in New Paltz, she remembers Chef/Owner Agnes Devereux creating a “throwback menu that included creamy wild mushrooms on toast points. This was during the Mad Men era of television, and this dish was a 1960s-style appetizer. It was a real surprise, very fun and absolutely delicious.”
Splurging. Because of the low prices, Restaurant Week offers patrons a great chance to try something they might not otherwise purchase. “One night we splurged on a bottle of Millbrook Vineyards Pinot Noir Block Five East — a rare find on a restaurant menu — that sells in their tasting room for $45,” she says.
Treating the team. “Every year, I love to take the magazine staff to lunch or dinner. They choose the restaurant,” Crawshaw says, which in 2015 was the Birdsall House in Peekskill. “It’s my opportunity to thank them for all the work they do all year long. Restaurant Week should be affordable for all businesses to take out their staff.”
Thanking clients. It’s also a great time to say thank you to clients or customers, she says. “Last year we had a luncheon with Health Quest and Vassar Brothers Hospital, one of our sponsors, at Le Express in Wappingers Falls,” she says. “The administrators brought along the head nursing staff, to acknowledge and thank their nurses.”
A dish from participating eatery Nina Restaurant (left); at right, guests enjoy scrumptious samples
Photographs by Samantha Seeley (left) and Ethan Harrison (right)
Catching up with family and friends. Restaurant Week provides an opportunity for Crawshaw to dine with as many of her five sisters as possible. “We have a reunion and catch up,” she says. “I also use it to meet up with friends from out of town. One of my favorite things to do is introduce friends to an exciting new restaurant, and the Hudson Valley always has so many of them.”
Starting new fires. “Years ago we went to the Cookery in Dobbs Ferry,” she says. “After the meal I learned that another customer had met the chef/owner, David DiBari, during Restaurant Week, and they are now a couple.” Which leads nicely to her next reason:
Rekindling old fires. She and her husband use Restaurant Week as an opportunity to get away for a romantic overnight. “We go out to dinner and stay overnight at a restaurant that has a hotel,” she says. Most recently, that was the Kittle House in Chappaqua, “a quintessential inn, with amazing food and service, and it’s great not to have to drive home after dinner.”
Exploring. She and her husband pick an area they may not know well and poke around. “One year we hopscotched all over Poughkeepsie,” she says. “First we took a walk on the Walkway Over the Hudson to build our appetites. Then we headed to Brasserie 292, which had just opened, then across the street to the Artist’s Palate, then to Crave. It was a great way to see Poughkeepsie as a burgeoning culinary destination.”
Trying something new. “I love to try new restaurants,” she says. Every year brings new choices, “and this year seems to be weighted more to new restaurants than in the past.” She is curious to visit new participants such as Perch in Marlboro, and Baja and Chateau Beacon in Beacon. “Also new in Beacon is the Vault, but I couldn’t wait for Restaurant Week — I already tried it,” she admits. “And then there is Rabbit and Turtle in Poughkeepsie. With a name like that, how can you resist?”