The first Kitchenette opened in New York City 20 years ago as an 11-seat luncheonette dispensing comfort food. Swift success allowed the two owners, Lisa Hall and Ann Nickinson, to expand into roomier branches, one on the upper west side and the other in Tribeca. Both have a cozy, country feel, thanks in part to bits and pieces imported from the Hudson Valley as part of the décor. Two weeks ago, the ladies’ first upstate location opened in High Falls, where rustic conditions are already in place. The Adirondack-esque building, which has housed several restaurants, now has a bar in the middle of the space; and bright, cheerful décor, reminiscent of the ’50s, that includes enamel-topped tables and popsicle green walls.
The cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering the kind of food “grandma used to make,” assuming grandma made American comfort fare with southern flourishes — mashed potatoes with gravy, cheesy grits, biscuits, cornbread, and fried this and that. There are a few fashionable inclusions, too, like spicy kale Caesar salad and a vegan lentil quinoa burger that I’m willing to bet your grandma never dished up.
But it’s mostly simple, home-style favorites, made from scratch with good ingredients, including Free Trade ones. The breakfast line-up includes eggs, pancakes, bagels, muffins, granola with berries, turkey sausage, and French toast. At lunch, you’ll find soups, burgers, sandwiches, mac and cheese, and salads, including the Kitchenette Salad of couscous, hummus, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes and pita bread with tzatziki dressing, which is comfort food for those from the Mediterranean.
Dinners include pulled BBQ pork, turkey meatloaf, fried chicken and grass-fed meatballs (how it warms the heart to picture those meatballs grazing). Last weekend, a couple of friends and I shared some Killer Onion Rings (and lived to tell the tale); John had the pork chop, James tried the (not very) spicy catfish sandwich, and I went for the fish and chips — all of which were good, and homey, as advertised.
It’s a bit noisy, but there’s a fun, lively atmosphere. Servers wearing do-rags dart about, and were alert to the point of making us feel a little rushed. (And I wish servers in general wouldn’t clear one diner’s place before everyone at the table has finished.) Drinks served in jars emphasize the casual aspect, although I’d rather have a glass for my wine, please. But those are quibbles. And the decadent banana cream pie made up for any minor shortcomings.
The cafe is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Cash only.