If you’re lucky enough to dine at New Paltz’s latest experiment in true farm-to-table cuisine, you may find yourself seated under the snarling snout of an impressively large wild boar. “Kris took that guy down with a knife. It was on a farmer’s land,” says Huguenot executive chef and co-owner Nathan Snow. Kris is Kris Karl, owner of Karl Family Farms and Snow’s partner in the restaurant.
Karl got to know Nathan and Bonnie Snow — the couple also owns A Tavola, the award-winning Italian restaurant just down the street — when he became one of their poultry suppliers. He approached them with the idea of opening a restaurant together: He’d supply the fresh, grass-fed meats and vegetables, and they’d turn those über local ingredients into delicious food. The Huguenot opened in February.
Snow builds his menu around whatever the Karls are harvesting or slaughtering at the moment, an arrangement that took a little getting used to. “One of the biggest adjustments is that we will never have enough of one cut of steak to sustain having, say, a rib eye on the menu,” says Karl. “Nate was used to dealing with a big meat supplier. He’d call me and say, ‘Hey, I need 30 T-bones,’ and I’d be like, ‘Uh, we have five…’ ” But careful thought and a creative spirit have smoothed the way, and the resulting food is stellar.
From left: grilled green asparagus with creamy chorizo dressing and a crispy breaded duck egg from Karl Farms; the restaurant’s trophy mounts; beef from Karl Farms is served in a bordelaise sauce with maitake mushrooms, roasted cipollini, and sugar snap peas
Meals begin with warm, freshly baked rye buns that have a potent caraway flavor — the perfect combination of crisply chewy outside and soft inside. Add some of the really good butter, and you may be tempted to eat only that all night. Salads — like deeply sweet braised beets and peppery watercress in a creamy yogurt dressing topped with crunchy cardamom brittle — are not only delicious, they’re also surprising in a way that wakes you up and brings you fully into the joyful experience of eating.
The chicken two ways is like those old Doublemint gum ads — double the flavor, double the fun. The grilled breast has a salty black pepper crust and is remarkably juicy and tender; the lightly crunchy confit leg is nothing short of amazing. Fingerling potatoes and caramelized roasted carrots with finely chopped mint provide a lighter counterpoint to the richness of the confit.
The oversized Huguenot burger is another favorite. Served on a fresh-baked brioche bun, the house-ground meat has a smoky flavor that is sweetly enhanced by a layer of caramelized onions and a slice of New York cheddar. Although the farm’s fresh pork, beef, and poultry tend to play a starring role, there are many good options for vegetarians and pescatarians here. The seasonal vegetable tart or flatbread can be paired with one of the salads to create a wonderful meal. If you have room for dessert, the butterscotch pot au crème with salt and sugar cookie is a little bit of heaven.
The close connection between the farm, the kitchen, and the table is unquestionably a win for everyone involved. “I have a state-licensed facility right here on the farm that allows me to butcher the chickens as humanely as possibly,” says Karl. “Then [the restaurant] cooks the birds that same night. And there are days when I’m not covered in cow manure when I buzz around the kitchen too, which is a lot of fun.”
But the dirt, sweat, and blood of the farm side of things is not at all apparent in the table-side experience. The restaurant has a rustic-chic ambience. A number of more peaceful-looking animal heads join the boar on the darkly painted walls, and glassware sparkles in the low light reflected in the mismatched antique mirrors that line the wall behind the bar. The seating — there’s room for 50 indoors, plus 10 more at the bar — is a mix of individual tables and one large table tucked under a handsome brick archway. In the warmer months, the secluded patio offers a pleasant, open-air option.
In addition to doggie bags, patrons can bring some of the dining experience home by purchasing farm-fresh chicken and duck eggs, bacon, chorizo, breakfast sausage, whole chickens, and various cuts of pork and beef at the restaurant.
The Crowd: Lots of locals; Brooklyn hipsters sampling the artisanal, locally based cocktails; and the occasional young couple from SUNY on a date.
Don’t Miss: The fried chicken with cheddar biscuits, whiskey gravy, and house pickles is a Sunday special that is available year-round.
The Basics: Dinner Wednesday-Sunday. Salads and appetizers $8-$14; entrées $16-$27
36 Main St., New Paltz