Photos courtesy of Bartlett House unless otherwise noted
Nicole Craft, the woman who trained at Roberta’s Pizza and The Spotted Pig, reinvents the culture of the kitchen in the Hudson Valley.
When Nicole Craft moved to the Hudson Valley in February, she did so in search of a strong community for her newborn baby. She waved goodbye to her years of experience working in top New York City kitchens, including Roberta’s Pizza, The Spotted Pig, Hideaway Tribeca, and Hideaway Seaport. When she discovered Bartlett House, however, she knew it would be the perfect fit. With its farm-to-table ideology and family-friendly environment, Bartlett House was the fresh, welcoming space Craft craved.
Nowadays, the talented chef works closely with local farmers to use the freshest possible ingredients for her innovative dishes while also spending time with her fast-growing daughter. Balancing a toddler and a kitchen is no easy feat, but Craft makes it seem effortless. Her daughter, Willow, is even lovingly nicknamed the “Bartlett Baby” by staff and frequenters of the restaurant.
“[Willow] comes with me to a lot of places and she’s become a big part of the Bartlett House. Everyone takes her under their wing. It’s like I have a really big family,” she says.
This kinship also pervades the kitchen. Craft attributes the quality of food to the sense of connectedness she shares with her team at Bartlett House. Rather than promoting a cutthroat dog-eat-dog environment, she encourages light-heartedness and collaboration. This camaraderie translates into the dishes, with unexpected, harmonizing flavor profiles. Craft credits her relationships with local farms, like Cedar Ridge Farm and Kilcoyne Farm, which provide her with the meat and produce crucial to her dishes.
Left: Cast iron flatbread pizza with smoked ham and farm egg / Right: Mixed chicory salad with avocado, pistachio, and blood orange
“The owners of the Bartlett House want to connect all of us together up here. I have always wanted to work directly with farms. Pretty much nowhere else in the U.S. is there such direct access to farmers,” she admits. “I feel very lucky to be able to do that here.”
Originally built as a hotel in the 1870s and reincarnated as a restaurant in 2016, Bartlett House has served as social hub in Ghent for over a century. Under Craft’s guidance, tradition and modernity combine to create a bakery café that is both welcoming and fresh. Visit for breakfast or lunch during the week, or for dinner on the weekend, to sample the innovative new menu. As for what to order, on the weekend, look for the Pork Hash with crispy fingerling potatoes, scallions, poached farm eggs, and a mouthwatering beet blackberry barbeque sauce. If you’re craving dinner, which happens to be Craft’s favorite service to work (she loves the creativity of it), try the Fat Apple Farm Half Chicken with roasted carrots and a carrot orange blossom glaze. To top it all off, turn up the volume with a refreshing fizzy lifter like the Garden Party, made with French rosé, basil, strawberries, and cucumbers.
With Craft’s fresh eye and modern approach, Bartlett House’s future is sure to be delicious.