Hudson Valley Restaurant Week 2011

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week returns, serving up unbeatable dining deals

Janet Crawshaw has a confession. During the March 2010 edition of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, she ate at 14 different eateries. Yes, 14. “It was a little extreme,” Crawshaw admits. “And I had to spend the rest of the year at the gym trying to deal with the results of that. But it was so worth it.”

And foodies will no doubt think that it is worth checking out this month’s Restaurant Week, too. Now in its fifth year, this event (which is actually two weeks long) runs from March 14-27. It includes approximately 150 regional restaurants, each of which will feature a special prix-fixe menu, offering a three-course lunch for $20 and/or a three-course dinner for $28 (excluding beverage, tip, and tax). “This is a great opportunity to try all the wonderful restaurants that we now have in the Valley,” says Crawshaw, the publisher of Valley Table and the brainchild behind Restaurant Week. “It’s also a chance to try a restaurant that might normally be out of reach because of price.”

Last year, more than 200,000 diners took advantage of delicious deals at 141 restaurants in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, and Greene counties. Chef Peter X. Kelly, of Xaviars Restaurant Group in Congers and Yonkers, notes: “Restaurant Week creates what every restaurant wants: people talking about your restaurant around the table, in the grocery line — because that’s what really brings in business.”

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Crawshaw says that the region’s growing reputation as a culinary hot spot helps fuel the event’s success. “There are over-the-top great restaurants here now,” she says. “We have a lot more variety, and an amazing talent pool of chefs who have really embraced the farm-to-table movement.”

Local farms and suppliers also reap benefits from Restaurant Week, since chefs are encouraged to use Valley produce — from artisanal cheese to meat to veggies to wine. For instance, Millbrook Vineyards is an event sponsor; many restaurants will pair their meals with these award-winning wines. Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, Westchester’s only microbrewery, also offers their ales and lagers at many participating venues.

This year, a number of new eateries are joining in the hoopla — including Escoffier, the CIA’s upscale French restaurant; and Poughkeepsie’s trendy new hot spot, the Bull and Buddha (read our review here). And two new dine-and-stay options are also available. Jack’s Pub, which serves New American cuisine with an Irish flair, opened last year at the 40-room Inn at Catlin Gardens; and Henry’s, the much-anticipated new restaurant at Buttermilk Falls Inn and Spa, is also scheduled to participate.

With so many dining choices, it would be almost impossible to go wrong, says Crawshaw. Wherever you end up, “it tends to be a very convivial atmosphere. Often, people get together with a group of friends and really make it into a special occasion. It’s a great opportunity to connect with families and friends at the end of a tough winter.”

We say cheers to that!

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