Get ready, foodies: Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is about to begin, and this year, there are 200 eateries taking part, so you need to plan carefully, and book right now. Luckily, the “Week” is so popular it actually runs from March 18-31, so you have fourteen days to nosh around the region on the cheap.
Iron Forge Inn (above) and Amici (below) are among the 200 eateries taking part in Restaurant Week
Most restaurants create a special Restaurant Week menu, so be sure to ask for it, if it’s not immediately offered. Three courses are a mere $20.95 at lunch; $29.95 at dinner. Drinks, tax and tips are extra, of course. And do, please, tip generously. You’ll be getting a terrific deal, but those serving you won’t be, if they have a drop in income. You’ll find a list of places taking part at www.hudsonvalleyrestaurantweek.com. Be flexible: Some restaurants don’t offer the special menu on Fridays or Saturdays, but you eat every day, right?
Now in its sixth year, the Valley’s Restaurant Week is already nearly as big a deal as the original in Manhattan, which kicked off 20 years ago. We have Janet Crawshaw, publisher of the Valley Table, to thank — she’s the driving force behind the regional effort. As she’s delighted to point out, in addition to an endless supply of highly trained chefs pouring out of the Culinary Institute, we are blessed with a growing number of artisanal cheese makers, wineries, distillers, and local farms raising great produce and heritage animals to supply the increasingly sophisticated restaurants popping up all over. No wonder the Valley has become the country’s favorite culinary destination. (OK, I made that last fact up, but it is true that The Lonely Planet ranked the area second on their list of Top Ten Places to Visit in 2012, partly because we’re saturated with farm-to-table options for foodies.)
Chefs at the press bash
Photograph by Jim Metzger/Simon Feldman Studios
A final thought: The press party to promote Restaurant Week was held at the Culinary Institute’s lovely Ristorante Caterina de Medici, where the desserts dished out for the ravenous hordes included the most wonderful, creamy, Arborio rice pudding with fruit compote. Three of the CIA’s restaurants are on the list — Caterina, American Bounty (the healthy one), and Escoffier (the trés classy French one, as you know) — but if you go to Caterina, don’t miss that dessert, even if you have to pay extra. It’s divine.
See you out there! Bon appetit!