When first-class steam locomotive travel was the way to get around back in the day, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s New York Central Railroad was considered the greatest of them all. Its flagship 20th Century Limited train ran between New York City and Chicago from 1902–1967 and made only a handful of stops. The Peekskill train station was one of them.
After being empty for over a decade, the circa 1874 station is a bustling hub once again with The Central, an inviting eatery serving coffee, small plates, and Mediterranean-style entrees. The restaurant (which opened last November) is a welcome respite for commuters or day trippers looking for a quick bite, a meal, or even a take-home dinner before boarding. “It’s a coffee shop in the morning and then it transforms into a full bistro and bar in the evening,” says co-owner and managing partner John Sharp.
Sharp—who also co-owns Peekskill’s Birdsall House, Gleason’s, and The Factoria complex—was searching for a new project and the historic station was ideal. “This is a wonderful location, a very important building for Peekskill. For many people, it’s the first thing they see when they come into the city.”
The Central’s cuisine is new American with Mediterranean accents—“and I mean all of the Mediterranean, from Israel to Spain!” says Sharp. The old station space is smart-but-casual and divided into a dining room and bar (where they offer six specialty cocktails, including the oh-so-appropriate 20th Century Lavender, made with gin or vodka, lavender syrup, lemon juice, and sparkling brut), along with outdoor seating. Original details include the wood plank floors, chandeliers, and a vintage wooden bench.
To get your day started, sample one of their addictive house-baked pastries, like the savory quiche’let, filled with custard, bacon, Manchego, and caramelized onion. It’s a total winner, as are the cheddar scone and the apple Danish. “We make them throughout the day, so the place always smells great,” says Sharp. And he keeps the coffee local—it’s from The Peekskill Coffee House on Division Street.
The mezze menu has many vegetarian options, including patatas bravas, croquettes with Manchego and lemon zest, crispy cauliflower with a zaatar-and mint-flavored yogurt sauce, and a Greek-style horiatiki salad. The All-Day Provisions menu offers a variety of “quick bites for long journeys, available every day from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.” and includes everything from a classic bacon, egg, and cheese and lox bagel to the more unique Pig and the Pickle (roasted pork loin, Serrano ham, Swiss cheese, Dijon, and dill pickles) and Spanish brie press (Serrano ham, arugula, Honeycrisp apple, and hot honey Dijon). Among the hearty entrees are an excellent steak sandwich–with arugula, marinated red onion, and horseradish aioli, and Kelly’s burger, topped with cheddar, aioli, lettuce, pickles, and red onion. All the dips—tzatziki, olive tapenade, hummus, and whipped feta with roasted red pepper—are crowd pleasers, says Sharp, and brunch on the weekend is super popular. The Central opens at 6 a.m. daily; the bar is closed on Mondays.
300 Railroad Avenue, Peekskill \ centralpeekskill.com
Related: One Hudson Valley Family Runs Pawling’s Historic Station Inn