Restaurant Review: Rock and Rye Tavern in New Paltz, NY

A new restaurant on New Paltz’s historic Huguenot Street offers American bistro fare, classic cocktails and a welcoming tavern atmosphere

I’m happy to report that the old Locust Tree Inn in New Paltz is enjoying another incarnation. Over the years, I’ve loved going there, whether we ate in the atmospheric, 1759 stone tavern; the more elegant dining rooms in the 1830s wing when we were feeling posher, or on the patio on warm nights. A couple of months ago, new owners Cassie Fellet and Sue Biolsi opened the place as Rock and Rye Tavern. (Rock and Rye is a citrusy, American liqueur that people used to claim cured the common cold.)

Biolisi is a veterinarian in Woodstock by day, but Fellet has been in the food and booze biz for a decade and is, she says “on a self-guided tour of bartending enlightenment,” which has led to a love of crafting cocktails. Good news for those of us who feel a cold coming on — so many cures! And reading the menu of classic cocktails is almost as much fun as drinking one. Those who prefer beer can choose from interesting bottled brews or one of six New York State drafts (check out the Blue Point Rastafa Rye, if you like flavorful ale). West coast varieties dominate the wine list, although you’ll find some from New York among the dozen offered by the glass. They even have Saranac ginger beer, the best soft drink around, if you ask non-Coke-drinking me.

eggplant napoleon

patioFair fare: Eggplant Napoleon and lavendar sour cocktails; at right, a view of the patio

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Ah yes, the food! Chef Jeremy Kolakowski’s New American bistro-style menu lets you nibble on appetizers and small plates (soups, salads, artisanal cheeses, house-smoked trout, mussels and such); or go for something a little more robust like steak sandwich, striped bass, roast chicken, or the now ubiquitous, and invariably yummy, duck breast and leg confit. Ingredients are from local farms when possible. Prices are a touch on the high side ($14 for a burger, $24 for chicken), but I always thought it was worth at least ten bucks to sit in such pleasant surroundings for a couple of hours.

That’s part of the plan: To create a welcoming, tavern-esque mood of old-fashioned hospitality and camaraderie. That, a good cocktail and a tasty bite — you can’t go wrong.

» Visit Rock and Rye Tavern in New Paltz, NY
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