Cool Reincarnation: Before refrigeration, harvesting ice from the Hudson River was one of the region’s big businesses, employing thousands. In the particularly nippy winter of 1879, the New York Times jubilantly reported a record crop of over three million tons, hauled in massive blocks from the river on elevators powered by steam engines. You can imagine this chapter in the Valley’s illustrious past at Poughkeepsie’s Ice House, an atmospheric new waterfront restaurant set in a brick building that once played a part. Or, if you couldn’t give a toss about history, you can just focus on the fittingly cool setting, terrific views, and tasty American food.
Two of the eatery’s in-demand dishes: pan-seared salmon with parsnip-horseradish purée (above), and short ribs braised with molasses and cider vinegar
Ice House opened last September after a big-bucks renovation of the building, which previously housed what general manager Michael Van Houten describes as a “glorified concession stand for pizza and ice cream.” On a memorable Monday night in late October, Hurricane Sandy roared in, and the Hudson surged and dumped several feet of water in the dining room. “We lost a lot of food,” reports Van Houten, “but the staff really came together to clean up, and by that Wednesday, we were open for dinner.” News reports of the calamity were “great advertising,” he notes in a silver-lining aside. Since then, all has gone swimmingly.
The Menu: Plenty of seafood, steaks, pasta, pan-seared this and that, and pub staples like fish and chips, with updated, old-fashioned favorite desserts like toffee blondies and apple crisp. Wine and beer only at present.
The Setting: Exposed brick; stamped concrete floors; 25-foot ceilings; and huge windows framing river views, the Walkway Over the Hudson, and the Mid-Hudson Bridge. In the separate bar-dining room, 50-inch flat-screen TVs are tuned to sports. In summer, you can dine on the big patio, practically on the water’s edge.
The Crowd: Refreshingly, the target is grown-ups. “People on a date come in, but we get more of a mature crowd,” says Van Houten. “We don’t have to worry about 21-year-old kids making a scene.”
Crowd-pleasers: The Bridge Music Burger made with cheddar, Cajun-spiced bacon, and garlic aïoli. “Our French onion soup is also popular, and the pan-seared salmon is to die for,” Van Houten reports.
The Tab: Starters $6 to $13; mains $17 to $30.
Ice House on the Hudson
1 Main Street (Waryas Park), Poughkeepsie. 845-232-5783; poughkeepsieicehouse.com