It was a steamy Monday night when my hubby and I went to check out Boitson’s, Uptown Kingston’s new bistro on North Front Street, but it felt like a Saturday in there — the joint was jumping! The room is long and narrow, with tables lined up against banquettes along one wall and a bar (under a backlit sign declaring “Lubrication”) on the other. Every seat was taken, and people perched on the dozen or so stools at the bar were eating as well as lubricating.
The force behind this fun new spot is Maria Philippis, who comes from a restaurant family with several eateries on Long Island, some of which she designed. This is the first one she’s owned herself, but all that practice obviously stood her in good stead. The bistro is in one of Kingston’s vintage storefronts, with a high tin ceiling and brick walls, which is to say a potentially deafening space. But Philippis added a cork floor, a buttoned-velvet wall at the entrance, and high-backed banquettes — all of which look stylish and also absorb sound. It’s lively, but even when it’s packed you don’t have to shout to have a conversation, something that wears thin when you’re past… 30, shall we say? Philippis named her bistro after her “very sweet,” one-time landlord in Brooklyn, Mr. Boitson, who urged her to open a place of her own, and left her some money when he died.
The charcuterie platter (left); our server Aja (right), who does a great job in a tight space
The menu is American bistro, which in this case means a mix of French bistro standards (like steak frites and mussels), American classics (including southern specialties like fried chicken and collards) and some fancier fare like roasted beet risotto and pork loin stuffed with peaches and goat cheese. Prices are pleasingly recession-proof. This was a belated birthday dinner for me, so we made pigs of ourselves and had Pimm’s cups, the most expensive appetizer (the charcuterie platter), and all sorts of extras and still only spent about 70 bucks. That $10 charcuterie platter, by the way, included a generous chunk of delicious, pungent, aged St. Andre cheese and was almost filling enough to make a meal of. If you went for a burger and one of the New York State beers, you’d have a good, cheap dinner in a cheery place.
Philippis opened on June 4th and has been doing a brisk trade ever since, drawing a very mixed crowd. “We get children, 90-year-olds, gay, straight, construction workers, lawyers,” she says. Other attractions, if you need more: a raw bar, and a dining deck out back with a fence just high enough to hide the parking lot below, but low enough that you can see the Catskills in the distance when you’re sitting at a table. Philippis is planning to add a canopy, which will make it even more inviting.
Boitson’s. 47 North Front St., Kingston. Closed Tues. and Weds. 845-339-2333 or www.boitsons.com