Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cauldron Restaurant and Bar, Montgomery NY

I've been meaning to go to the Cauldron Restaurant in Montgomery for months now, but it seems that I never travel that section of the road anymore, so I always seem to forget. The restaurant is owned by the family of one of my former students, Giovanni La Piana (one of my favorite former students), and I've tried their food at Montgomery Day and The Walden Harvest Festival and liked what I had. Well, today we were out and couldn't decide where to eat and suddenly it came to me. We've gotta give the Cauldron a try. We're glad we did and we've added a new favorite to our list.

The Cauldron isn't big. There is bar area with a few tables, and a small dining room. It's decorated in red and white with a warm feel and posters on the wall. Giovanni seated us, gave us the menus, and explained the specials. He told us that all of the pasta is homemade and all of the vegetables are local. From farm to table is how he explained it. If you're a localvore this will make you happy. Shortly after we ordered we were given fresh baked focaccia bread,

We ordered off the specials menu and I had the Cioppini (see the top photo). It was clams, shrimp, calamari, in a spicy sauce with carrots and celery over home made linguini. The best description is delicious with just the right amount of heat. The calamari was cooked perfectly and it almost melted in my mouth. The shrimp and clams were just right too, as were the carrots and celery. The pasta was amazing. There was so much on my plate I had to bring half of it home, and that's rare for me, but I have a nice lunch waiting for me tomorrow.

Teresa got the butternut squash ravioli with a nice white sauce on it. I took a bite and it was very tasty. Both of our meals came with a choice of salad or soup. Looking at the soup choices we decided that was the way to go. I got the French Onion, which was excellent. Teresa had the Tuscan soup with broccoli rabe that had a nice flavor that even I liked. She loved it.

Both dishes were eighteen dollars and worth every penny of that. Overall, this was a great meal out and I highly recommend the Cauldron Restaurant. They are located at 631 State Route 17K in Montgomery New York, next door to the Spruce Lodge. The phone number is (845) 567-1760. They also make a pretty mean pizza and they used to be known as Colletta's Pizza. Stop in and you'll be glad you did. Tell them I sent you.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beacon Falls Cafe, Beacon, NY

Beacon New York is one of those small American cities which fell into a steep decline a couple of decades ago and it looked like it was never going to come out of it. Well, that all changed a few years ago when a few art galleries opened, along with some antique shops and some specialty stores. That brought a new crop of restaurants so that Beacon is now a destination.

Teresa and I went over to Beacon today to try something different. First choice was Poppy's, he's a champion on the Food Network show Chopped, but we decided to do that another time so we headed down the street to where we'd spotted a Mexican place once in passing. We parked and wandered around for a few blocks looking into some shops and we looked at the menus in a couple of restaurants. One choice was Thai, but it was pricey and I'm not a huge fan anyway. The Mexican place held promise, shrimp tacos being one of my favorites, but we decided to do that another day. What struck my eye was a small place called Beacon Falls Cafe, near the corner. There is a small waterfall nearby that was once used to power a nearby factory. We looked that the menu posted on the window (I love it when restaurants do this as it makes it so much easier to see what they have to offer, as well as the prices) and decided this was the place.

We entered and were told to sit wherever we wanted. The outside tables were full, and I'm not a fan of eating on the sidewalk anyway, the smell of diesel exhaust while eating isn't my idea of fine dining. There were a few tables available and we chose a table by the window as I wanted good lighting for the picture. It isn't big inside, but it is bright and clean and well decorated with the paintings of a local artist.

We were asked a few times what we wanted to drink and each time we said the water they'd already given us was fine. I'm a huge fan of tap water at restaurants and rarely order a drink while eating, especially if I'm driving. They do have a good wine and beer selection, but we passed on that. We were given menus and we watched them bring food to other tables. I like to look at what passes by as I decide what to order and everything looked good.

Regular readers of this blog know that I have a soft spot for a bacon and blue cheese burger. There's something magic about that combination so after perusing the menu I ordered my usual. Teresa ordered a special.

It took a little long to get the meal and the waitress apologized for the delay. No matter. When my burger arrived I smiled and took the camera out to get a portrait of my meal and placed the burger in the sun so it had a nice halo affect, kind of an ethereal glow. After the photo shoot, I took the top bun off and realized there was no bacon. Hmmm. Then I noted that the cheese was yellow. This wasn't my burger! I called the waitress over and said, "This is a beautiful burger, but not the one I ordered." She apologized and said she'd correct it. I told her it was okay, I'd eat this one. I was salivating over it anyway and it really didn't matter all that much.

Now here's what separates an ordinary restaurant from the really good ones, how they handle a mistake. The really good ones make up for it immediately. I received so many apologies as I ate that I think I got to know the entire staff. I kept saying it was all right and it really was. The burger I got was delicious with fresh meat cooked to perfection, on a fresh kaiser roll. The fries were crisp and hot and they had a small pasta salad with it too. Teresa said hers was good, I just can't remember what it was. Not a good thing for a food critic to do, but maybe I was so wrapped up in what I had. After we finished, and the bill came, we were told that the chef wanted to give us desert. We were full, but after hearing the choices, we decided we'd share a delightful chocolate mousse cake. So rich and tasty! Good thing we shared it as neither one of us could have finished it on our own. I also had coffee. Good coffee.

Now it is possible that I got made as a food critic, especially when I took a picture of the food as that's not something the average diner does, but I may be experiencing a bit of hubris if I think I'm that recognizable. I think they are genuinely concerned about customer service and that makes them a really good restaurant. No, maybe a great restaurant.

The bill came to $20.00, tax and tip included, for a great meal with great service and atmosphere. I'm definitely going back again, this time I do want that bacon and blue cheese burger. They have a website for more information.

Update- I did get back for that bacon and blue burger and it was worth the trip. Service was excellent and food terrific. If you haven't been there yet, what are you waiting for?

Another Update- Since this review we've been back quite a few times and the food, service and ambiance have been excellent. I've gotten to know Bob, the chef and owner, well. I have to say that BFC is truly a gem and is fast becoming my favorite place in the Hudson Valley to eat.