From its brief but superb menu to its bright, minimal interior—Kitty’s is elegantly simple. So, it makes sense that the restaurant emerged from a simple idea. “[I wanted] a good cup of coffee and some train snacks on my way to the city—and a nice dinner when I got back,” says owner Ben Fain, who figured that Hudson locals and visitors would agree.
Fain graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with an MFA in sculpture, but branched off into real estate after moving to Brooklyn. Even as he was caught up in city life, Fain always kept an eye on the Valley and yearned for “ways to connect back to nature and community.” That’s when he discovered the region’s burgeoning culinary scene. “A lot of my peers are creating their own spirits up here, like Tim, Anna, and Dave from Left Bank Ciders, and Rachael Petash from Current Cassis. Their passion is contagious.”
Following his friends’ footsteps, Fain purchased a vibrant red building near Hudson’s Amtrak station. Kitty’s opened its doors in September 2020 and has swiftly become a staple.
By day, the eatery functions as a market café, serving up breakfast sandwiches, coffee, pastries, and “spinning chicken”—a whole or half chicken “coated in a paprika-forward spice mix, dry brined for two days, and roasted in our standing rotisserie oven,” says Robert Howay, Kitty’s culinary director. Patrons can also pick up staples in the grocery section including produce, pasta, sauces, spices, and fresh bread—or grab a premade meal.
Starting at 5 p.m. on weekdays (and 10 a.m. on weekends), a restaurant comes alive. For dinner, start with one of the excellent apps such as lamb tartarski, a Polish-style tartar with hand-ground lamb, mustard, anchovies, beets, capers, and red onion, or go for fried oyster mushrooms served up with eggs, pimento cheese, jalapeño-and-honey-pepper bacon, and sauerkraut.
Kitty’s entrees (called “big plates”) combine Americana comfort food with central and eastern European flavors, according to Howay. There’s pork schnitzel with cucumber and ranch dressing; steelhead trout topped with fennel, celery, and lemon; pastrami-spiced lamb and schmaltzed potatoes; and chkmeruli, a Georgian dish of chicken in garlic sauce. Kitty’s pork is from Kinderhook Farm in Valatie, and Hudson Valley Fisheries supplies the trout. Pair the mains with a veg-forward small plate such as butter beans, grilled carrots, or Hakurei turnips.
As for drinks, Fain recommends the 50/50 Martini, which layers Cap Corse Blanc apéritif, orange bitters, and a lemon twist over dry gin. Another hit is “The Oldest Fashioned,” made with rye whiskey from Taconic Distillery.
Kitty’s recently launched a weekend brunch that could give dinner a run for its money: The buttermilk biscuit sandwich—topped with a fried egg, cheddar cheese, gochujang mayo, and crispy potatoes—is a bestseller. The wedge salad is also delicious—with cherry tomatoes, Rogue Creamery blue cheese dressing, bacon, and a quail egg.
Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins, especially those “fresh from the train,” says Howay, are always welcome. In addition to the restaurant and market, Kitty’s maintains a community fridge and partners with Little Free Library, a nonprofit that encourages neighborhood book exchanges.