For foodies in the Hudson Valley, Rhinebeck has long been the place to be. The Dutchess County town has pretty much every cuisine imaginable, from farm-to-table at Terrapin and Americana at Foster’s Coach House to Italian at Market Street and Thai at Aroi Thai. Most recently, it announced the arrival of Bia, a new Irish restaurant set to open on Market Street later in April.
Around that same time, the Hudson River town welcomes yet another unique cuisine to its culinary landscape. Set to open in early April, Lucky Dragon will bring upscale Chinese fare to Market Street. Although the restaurant, which inhabits the former Catch 38 space, is new to town, owners Howard and Chris Jacobs are not. In fact, they can often be found just around the corner at The Amsterdam, their world-inspired, farm-to-table dining room. When the duo open their second shop a few blocks over, they’ll bring with them Chef Alex Burger, The Amsterdam’s Daniel Boulud-trained executive chef.
“Alex Burger will be assuming the role of executive chef at both The Amsterdam and Lucky Dragon, and he’ll draw on his experience cooking in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore,” notes Jacobs, a former marketing executive who left a career in New York City to pursue his passion for the hospitality industry. “Chef Angelyne Schofield, a CIA graduate and current sous chef at The Amsterdam, will come over to Lucky Dragon as executive sous chef.”
As far as the concept goes, Lucky Dragon is a “farm-to-chopsticks” eatery that fuses Hudson Valley fare with the flavorful Chinese cuisine that Jacobs first encountered as a youth in Toronto.
“Growing up in Toronto, I developed an early love for Chinese food, as it was a family tradition to explore and enjoy the city’s incredible Chinese restaurant culture,” he explains. “When Chris and I got married, we continue to spend time frequenting the places I grew up with, and later, when we lived in the Bay Area, we immersed ourselves in that local food scene.”
As they uncovered the hidden gems in San Francisco, the couple fell in love with dim sum and the colorful landscape of the city’s Chinatown. Even when they moved to the Hudson Valley many years later and opened The Amsterdam, they never let go of that spark that lingered in the back of their minds. Fortunately, as fate would have it, everything they needed for their next project began to fall in line.
First, they found their footing in Rhinebeck. They familiarized themselves with the local food scene and figured out what was great about it – and what was missing. Then they found the perfect chef in the form of Alex Burger. After training extensively in Asia and Europe before relocating to the Hudson Valley, Burger was already familiar with the cuisine that the couple had in mind. Together, they began mapping out the concept that would fill a void in Rhinebeck’s dining scene, brainstorming menus and taking suggestions as they went.
“We felt delicious Chinese food served in a really fun setting was something missing from the local dining scene, and something that we could have a really fun time doing,” Jacobs explains. During that time, “several guests at The Amsterdam would tell us, ‘You guys should open a Chinese restaurant,’ after Chris and I had already started plotting. We’d kind of wink at each other, knowing what was soon on the horizon.”
After Catch 38 closed at the end of 2018, the duo took over the space and began work to transform it into Lucky Dragon. When the restaurant opens in early April, it will be a local hub for Mandarin, Cantonese, and Sichuan dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. On the menu, dim sum and shareable plates similar to the ones at The Amsterdam invite conviviality and communal dinners. With a few small platters, which range from $6 to $17, and a feature order like a whole fish or Peking duck for the table, guests have every excuse to linger and laugh well into the evening. On the weekends, Lucky Dragon will even offer a brunch spread that channels the flavors of the eastern hemisphere.
Authenticity is key at Lucky Dragon, as is ambiance. In terms of the vibe, the eatery will have indoor and outdoor seating, with an energetic atmosphere throughout. A bar on the main level will be a hub for diners who want to stop in for a drink and a bite, while a full outdoor bar will invite visitors to congregate outside during the warmer months. At both locations, guests can choose from the restaurant’s stock of beers from China and Asia or sip on a signature cocktail or wine by the glass.
All in all, “the goal is to create an authentic and fun Chinese restaurant in the heart of the Hudson Valley,” Jacobs says.
38 W Market St, Rhinebeck