What is a more iconic New York breakfast than a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich? Absolutely nothing, if you ask Daniel Bagnall, owner of Halcyon All Day Café in Rhinebeck.
“The menu is very loosely bodega-inspired. One of the things we missed in the area is a place with good energy where you can grab a cup of coffee and really simple, but delicious, bacon, egg, and cheese,” Bagnall says.
For the past eight years, he has split his time between two homes: Rhinebeck and Brooklyn. When coming up with the name for his café, he chose the word halcyon, which denotes an idyllic, peaceful moment in time. In fact, Bagnall grew up on Halcyon Rd in California. With his all-day breakfast spot, he hopes to bring a little West Coast positivity to the Dutchess County destination.
Halcyon opened its doors in November 2021. Nestled on the corner opposite the Beekman Arms, the coffee shop strives to be a hangout spot as much as a grab-and-go coffee shop.
Bagnall has experience developing atmosphere. He also founded Sonder, which will soon move to Rhinebeck from its original home in Hudson. With Halcyon, he and frequent collaborator Clyde Woodstock designed a concise menu with seemingly straight-forward dishes. However, they elevate fresh café staples with subtle and surprising twists.
For instance, examine the bacon, egg, and cheese, a perfect demonstration Halcyon’s ethos. It starts with free-range organic eggs cooked just right. Next, Bagnall uses agave to caramelize bacon. This sweet and sticky roasting process balances out the saltiness. Finally, it all comes together on fluffy, house-made milk buns.
“Japanese milk buns are a white bread made with milk and a fair amount of sugar as well. They’re very springy, spongy, and light. But, they have enough body to hold up to bacon or hot sauce or ketchup,” Bagnall says. These fresh milk buns are the foundations on which every sandwich at Halcyon is built.
Similarly, every sandwich comes with house-pickled jalapeno. Bagnall and Woodstock experiment with Hudson Valley ingredients regularly. They make jams, fermented hot sauces, and other toppings in-house. For example, the top bun of Halcyon’s chickpea-quinoa veggie burger gets a smear of an ultra-savory tomato compote. Bagnall describes it as an “umami bomb.” Garlic aioli, cauliflower hash, and fresh avocado are a few other common add-ons.
“We always have a probiotic fermented jalapeno hot sauce in-house,” he adds. “That’s really yummy….it’s tangy and not terribly spicy.”
MX Morningstar Farm in Hudson and Migliorelli Farm in Tivoli provide Halcyon with delicious produce. Bagnall sources honey and maple syrup from Catskill Provisions. Similarly, Hudson Valley beef found its way into Halcyon’s most NYC-inspired dish: the chopped cheese. “Shredduce,” gooey melted cheese, local ground beef, and house ketchup make for a deeply satisfying winter lunch.
As for California influences on the menu, Bagnall believes that every great café should have a grain bowl and a green bowl.
First, try the Halcyon rice bowl. Roasted sweet potatoes, smashed avocado, and pickled carrots play beautifully with spicy salsa verde rice and local kale. Top the affair with an egg for a filling meal. Or, opt for the beet hummus bowl. This vegan choice pairs marinated tofu with smashed chickpeas, zucchini, and pickled radish.
Downstairs, a 2,000-sq-ft space serves as Halcyon’s bakery.
“[What we bake] really changes completely week to week. It kind of depends on our mood, and which ingredients are in season,” Bagnall says. “There’s an oatmeal cookie that sometimes has hemp in it, and sometimes has coconut in it. But, both variations are delicious.” Expect specials like flaky almond croissants, fudgy brownies, and crumbly coffee cake. On the other hand, the sea salt chocolate chunk cookie is a permanent fixture of the menu.
Halcyon also keeps things local on the coffee menu. To start, Troy-based roaster Touchy Coffee powers the java, while Dutchess County dairy adds creaminess to lattes, cappuccinos, and other blended caffeinated drinks. Specifically, Halcyon uses milk from Ronnybrook Farms and Hudson Valley Fresh.
“We have a million milks,” Bagnall jests. Plant-based options include almond, oat, pistachio, soy, and hemp.
Chocolate lovers will adore Halcyon’s signature mocha latte. It features the shop’s own syrup made from three simple ingredients: water, sugar, and 76-percent fair trade dark chocolate. Bagnall’s personal chai has a spot on the menu, alongside matcha and turmeric lattes. Moreover, drink specials showcase even more creativity.
As Halcyon develops a devoted fanbase, Bagnall looks to extend its “all-day” status even further.
“We’re taking our time and making sure that each part of the equation is done really, really well. Long-term, we’re going to do more grab-and-go items for lunch. After that, we’ll introduce a serious dinner program,” Bagnall says. His plans to center the menu additions around rotisserie chicken, soups, and stews in the wintertime, with salads and specialty bowls at night. “We’re just going to have a lot of fun with it.”