At the end of an Orange County strip mall is a hidden gem gastropub making its mark in Middletown and celebrating a milestone. The first anniversary of Scotchtown Craft Bar and Kitchen is a big deal for the neighborhood — and for owners Michael and Sindy Moroney. The couple never intended to become restaurateurs. They moved from New York City in 2012 when Michael’s father, owner of Moroney’s Cove Clam Bar, passed away.
The Cove was a dive with good food, a loyal following, and a troubled reputation. The couple intended to build up the business, sell it, and return to the city. But in 2014, the Moroneys decided radical change was in order, and began carrying craft beer, closing early, and changing the music — and began falling in love with the area while doing so. They scraped together enough money to either make a down payment on a house or an investment in a restaurant — they closed the Cove, and built Scotchtown Craft.
The Moroneys drafted a menu that made liberal use of Sindy’s Dominican heritage, and borrowed dishes — like lamb charmoula — from restaurants they had frequented in the city. “We started bringing things we loved to the table,” says Michael. “We wanted comfort food and some healthy options. There’s something for everyone; a deep-fried burger and a kale salad.”
Today, the menu is large and complex — think littleneck clams, short rib poutine, and wild boar ragu. It’s elevated pub-style food, and in a world of chains and dives, Scotchtown is more of a mom-and-pop place where people can get a well-crafted meal. As far as those craft beers, Michael says there’s no real rule other than keeping the menu well-rounded and changing it regularly.
That plan to return to the city is permanently shelved. In fact, the couple is so enamored with the Valley they’ve embarked on restaurant No. 2: Crawford Craft opened in Pine Bush at the end of December.
741 Route 211 East; 845.692.7360; www.scotchtowncraft.com