Update 12/26/18: Catch 38 is closed.
For such a water-loving region, the Hudson Valley is surprisingly lacking in seafood restaurants. Sure, we have some truly wonderful fish markets. Yet when it comes to eating out, ocean-friendly eateries are few and far between.
In Dutchess County, local restaurateurs Wesley Dier, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, and Bryn Bahnatka-Dier are here to fill the void. When they closed The Local, their Rhinebeck farm-to-table restaurant, on the last day of 2017, they knew it was time for a major change. Over the course of the next five months, they said goodbye to their seven-and-a-half year project and embarked on an entirely new one.
Enter Catch 38. The seafood-centric restaurant, which opened on May 31, lives in the same space as The Local, but that’s about the only thread that ties the two of them together. We sat down with the reborn locale’s owners to learn what’s new about the space and why they picked fish in the first place.
Congrats on the opening! Why did you decide to close The Local?
Wesley: We sort of had a rough year the year before in 2017. In general, a lot of the restaurants in our area were not doing as well financially. We live in a town where there are a lot of restaurants. Everyone is trying to do kind of the same thing, farm-to-table this, farm-to-table that. We all got lumped together. We sort of got labeled the fancy, special occasion, Saturday evening restaurant. [With Catch 38], we though we would break the mold and do something completely different and reinvent ourselves.
How did you settle on seafood?
Bryn: Every time we travel, that’s what we gravitate toward. We love oysters and really great fresh seafood, and it’s nothing that’s being done around here.
W: We wanted to fill a niche that didn’t really exist.
Dier and Bahnatka-Dier in front of Catch 38
So what’s new about Catch 38?
W: Everything. From the minute you walk in the door, [it’s] the décor, the full vibe, the uniforms. We took a fun, casual approach and brightened up the place. It looks like the country version of a Nantucket fish shack. We turned up the music a little bit more. We have a more relaxed vibe. We’ve been ourselves. Literally everything has changed.
B: It’s pretty much the whole vibe. If you were to walk in you would immediately feel the difference.
What’s the ideal audience and time for a visit to Catch 38?
W: That’s again why we switched concepts. We wanted to deliver a restaurant to locals that they could come to two to three times a week. The price point is a little bit lower and it has an innate casualness that still celebrates really fine ingredients. Anybody could come to the bar and have oysters and a great cocktail or come for a full meal on another night and not feel like you’ve overdone it.
B: We took our time over the past five months. We have our gardens and our greenhouse in the back. We use all of our own herbs and try to grow as much as possible.
Do you serve bar fare?
W: Yes, we serve the entire menu at the bar.
Where do you source your seafood?
W: Predominately our seafood comes from Gadaleto’s out of New Paltz. We also use Hudson Valley Seafood out of Central Valley. Those guys go down to the Fulton fish markets [in New York City] every day. We receive seafood every single day.
Do you plan to change the menu seasonally?
W: At The Local we would change the menu pretty much every month. That’s my style and my approach. You could go to any given restaurant and they don’t often change their menu. Everyone has a Caesar salad or a steak with French fries. We do want to keep it fresh and new so people want to come back and see what’s going on.
Do you have any favorites on the menu?
W: People get a kick out of our crab cake waffles. It’s a crab cake mixture and we press it in a cast iron waffle maker, as opposed to forming it into a patty. It looks like a waffle but it’s actually a crab cake.
Any updates to the beverage list?
B: That changed around as well.
W: We have a great new bartender we worked with hand in hand and developed new recipes. We have super fun, yet approachable cocktails and we still feature an all-domestic wine list.
You’re based in Rhinebeck. How do you think the area influences the restaurant?
B: We love the area. We’re both from here and we have our home here. It’s why we decided to stay here and do the revamp instead of selling the restaurant and moving somewhere else. The Hudson Valley is beautiful. We love, on a Sunday on our day off, to hop on the train and run down to the city for lunch. We have that opportunity, which is great.
The new interior of Catch 38
What do you have planned for the restaurant in the next few months?
W: We’re already coming out with a new menu. We’ve only been open one month, but we’re constantly trying to analyze what sells best and what’s coming into market. We fine-tune the machine daily.
B: We’re all new staff so we’re all learning to work together. It’s really coming together and it’s been a great first month.
Tuesday – Saturday, 5-10 p.m.
38 West Market St, Rhinebeck