We get a lot of people celebrating their anniversaries here,” says Brandon Collins, the executive chef at the Roundhouse at Beacon Falls. For anyone who has ever visited the much-heralded restaurant/bar/hotel/event space, which opened in 2012 on the site of an old factory, that statement should come as no surprise. Perched fortuitously over the pretty falls in Fishkill Creek, the romance factor at pretty much any spot in the six-acre compound is simply off the charts. “It has definitely become more of a special-occasion place,” says Collins. “It’s the view, the setting, the feeling.”
At Swift, the 80-seat main restaurant, this feeling is enhanced by the stunningly designed dining room. A wall of huge windows overlooks the water, and the sleek industrial space — decorated by Beacon’s Elizabeth Strianese — is warmed by gold pendant lights and signature soft red chairs. “Much of our clientele is here for the day or the weekend,” says Collins. “And with all the wonderful places to choose in Beacon, they choose us.”
But, Collins is quick to note, the Roundhouse is trying to court everyday folks, too. “We actually do have a lot of regulars now, which is awesome, especially for the type of restaurant that we are,” says the chef, who spent the previous nine years at the esteemed Valley Restaurant at the Garrison Country Club. This is a change for the eatery, which was named a “Best New Restaurant” by this magazine just a year and a half ago. After all, Collins is the first to admit that “there was initial shock when we opened. People didn’t understand us, but now they are more accepting of who we are and what we do.”
What they do is prepare inventive, farm-fresh New American food, served either at Swift or on the beautiful urban-style patio, where this year, the ever-popular lobster roll will be available through mid-October. Another option is the über-trendy cocktail lounge, 2EM, where a fun menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and a couple of desserts (including a trio of mini-cupcakes) is served until either 10 or 11 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. The lounge is particularly cozy in colder weather, especially if you can snag a seat by the linear gas fireplace, which is flanked by two full-length windows with dizzying views of the falls. “We’ve gotten into more of a groove. We’re more comfortable as cooks and with our food. Our relationships with our local farms have also gotten stronger,” says Collins, ticking off the names of some of his favorites: “Blooming Hill, Honey Locust, Obercreek, Common Ground, Fazio.”
Room with a view: Large windows in Swift’s dining room (left) face the cascading Beacon Falls; tender wagyu beef (right) is plated with spinach and mashed potatoes
During a recent dinner my companion and I were anxious to test out some of these changes. While we were disappointed that the bread that finally came to our table was not warm, I’m happy to report that everything was on an upswing after that. Our appetizers — springs rolls, sashimi, and a garden-fresh salad — were all very good. But it was the main course that took the game to another level. My companion had the scallops. These succulent mollusks were perfectly pan-seared and served with brussels sprouts. “Those are always a big seller,” says Collins. I had the “Swift wagyu” special, an ample portion of delectable slices of beef served in high fashion over a bed of spinach. “This is really popular too,” says Collins. “But I’m tweaking it a little. It’s going to be served with brown butter sweet corn purée and local beets, some local sweet corn as well, and a green goddess sauce.”
Collins gets excited when he talks about other meats he’s recently introduced to the menu, such as rabbit — which will make its return in the fall. “We also have a coulotte, a really cool cut of beef that is starting to become popular. It’s the cap of the top round. Traditionally, it’s a tough cut, but we take it and soften it up with butter for 16 hours. Then we sear it and serve it medium rare. It goes with a bread pudding, or bread dumpling: We take leftover bread, dry it out, and make dumplings with smoked gouda out of it. Then we serve it with local carrots and peas and whatever mushrooms we can get our hands on. It’s all served in a Blanquette sauce.”
The Patio (left) offers outdoor dining in season. Above right: Executive Chef Brandon Collins
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For dessert, my companion and I split the cheesecake and the Blonde Coulant, an outrageously gooey concoction served with dark chocolate ice cream. “We can’t get rid of this one,” laughs Collins. “It’s like a molten center cake. We use blonde chocolate, it’s kind of like a caramelized white chocolate. I admit that it is dangerously tasty.” Indeed.
As we sipped our coffee and marveled at the moonlight dancing on the falls, we remarked how happy we were that our impromptu dinner had come together so well — and that we were able to snag a last-minute reservation. After all, the restaurant was packed all night. In fact, we had to admit, our trip to the Roundhouse had turned an average errand-filled Saturday into a bit of a special occasion.
If you go…
The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls
Swift and 2EM open Thurs.-Sat., the Patio open Wed.-Sun., call for hours.
Appetizers $9-$18, entrées $22-$32 at Swift, $3-$12/$14-$19 at 2EM & the Patio
2 E. Main St., Beacon