A few months ago, my husband and I checked out New Paltz’s new Italian wine bar, Il Gallo Giallo, and reviewed it for Hudson Valley magazine (read it here). The Italian small plates were a hit with us, so we’ve since been back a couple of times with friends. Then — surprise — last weekend, we called for a reservation and discovered that owner Darrin Siegfried is now calling the place The Yellow Rooster (which is English for Il Gallo Giallo, as you know), and has introduced a new, international menu. Hmmm. I’m guessing that being a few doors down from A Tavola, a popular Italian restaurant, wasn’t helping matters. “We were constantly being compared, but I never set out to compete with them,” Siegfried says, explaining that the real problem was that customers seemed to have trouble grasping the Italian wine-bar-small-plates concept. A menu switch was called for.
He and chef Ryan McClintock came up with a new roster that’s like a United Nations culinary mash-up. Here’s a sampling: BBQ Pulled Pork Tostada, Miso-Glazed Salmon Ramen, Caramelized Peanut Chile Pork Ribs, Lemongrass Chicken Sliders, Meatballs in Marinara, Macaroni and Cheese. A few popular plates from the earlier line-up are still on, including roasted marrow bones, the cheese and salumi platter, the locally raised-beef burger with tasty house-made ketchup, and the highly addictive herbed fries. If you can’t find something to tempt you here, you’re in a very bad mood and shouldn’t be out in public to start with.
Tasty, fanciful and fun: vegan Buffalo cauliflower with faux bleu cheese
We liked the hot and spicy Buffalo Cauliflower appetizer, a clever, vegan, trompe l’oeil play on Buffalo chicken wings. (“You need a vegan dish or two in New Paltz,” Siegfried declares.) But vegan bleu cheese? McClintock sort of explained, in the way chefs do, that you just mix a little lemon and vinegar with tofu until it tastes like the real dairy version. Right. We also enjoyed the pickled shrimp on a bed of fennel (delicious, even though I’m not a fennel fan); a nicely done rare tuna au poivre that came with wonderful shoestring fries; and comforting; and homey buttermilk fried chicken with a crispy batter and waffles. The creme brulee topped with slivers of ginger was good, too.
McClintock says the menu is closer now to the kinds of dishes he enjoys making, and it shows. The food — even “serious” dishes like that rare tuna — is fun. You can still take the wine-bar-and-appetizer approach, if you wish. Siegfried is adding international wines to match the broader range of fare.