Learning about The Village Tea Room Restaurant and Bake Shop in New Paltz was the result of dining out this past spring and completing a survey for Valley Table magazine with a generous gift certificate as the prize. I asked around and also learned the son of one of my dear friends is an employee and we were double motivated to try it.
The day was the typical mix one can find during spring in New York; blazing sun and warmth one moment, breezy and cool rain storms and rainbows to follow. We seemed to stand in the center line when we arrived with the sun at our backs. Quaint. Picturesque. I was drawn in immediately and anxious to be inside.
As we drew closer to the front door, I loved seeing the outdoor dining space and promised myself that someday I would return when the weather was nicer and more predictable.
Even when I do a bit of investigative work by checking out reviews, websites, social media and thoughts from friends, the best part really is just trying it out myself. The moment I open a new restaurant door, I am anxious for the smells, can't wait to see the interior, the menu, the customers and staff. The Village Tea Room offered many treats for the eyes:
How lovely to offer a listing of local farms, vineyards and distilleries! It makes the diner truly feel as if they are contributing to an entire community by simply supporting one restaurant.
The blackboard is flanked by two sets of shelves lined with colorful bottled beverages and though I am not a huge fan of wine, I appreciate the inclusion of area vineyards as part of the available drinks.
For me, a cocktail is always the way to go and I have trouble deciding. A champagne cocktail? A twist on a Cosmo? What should I do? Ask the server.
It came down to the champagne cocktail of the Rhubarb Gin Collins. I went with the gin from Tuthilltown Spirits.
I can't say I've ever described a beverage as beautiful, but this simply was, in both appearance and taste. The playfully pink swirled straw was a whimsical touch, but the smooth gin taste reminded one the beverage was quite adult.
The dining room would dim and brighten as the sun and clouds continued their battle. For me, it presented a challenge for photographing our plates.
A full menu offers vegetarian options, tapas, light meals and we were also offered specials. We both broke from our normal routines. Spoiler alert: the Mr. did not order chicken.
Our main courses arrived and I the aromas of our freshly prepared meals permeated the room.
For the Mr., a beautifully prepared steak with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes that were the perfect balance of creamy and starchy, with heirloom carrots. I am always offered at least a bite of his meal so I can share any opinions I may have in this blog. On this occasion, I asked if he would mind if I had a second forkful of each item. Delicious and well prepared.
I went for what some may consider a simple meal, but those are sometimes the most difficult to create. Penne pasta with fresh pesto.
A beautiful meal and I made sure to eat less than half of my generous serving to ensure a bit of room for dessert. The other half of the business name is after all, "Bake Shop."
We order tea and coffee with milk and creamer respectively and a huge platter is brought out with cups, saucers, pitchers and pots. The fussiness was well appreciated.
I have developed a crush on salted caramel in the last year or so and so the salted caramel cake seemed an obvious choice. I truly enjoyed the large granules of salt mixed with the chocolate frosting. All grocery store snack aisles should include places for cookies, crackers, chips and sugar/salt combo treats.
The Mr. rarely orders dessert and when he does, it is usually his favorite apple pie. Tonight, he really stretched himself and ordered a cream puff. It may be hard to distinguish scale in the photograph, but the pastry was bigger than the average sized fist. It was perfectly balanced, the custard was creamy and flavorful. I have to admit, I sampled more than one bite and wondered if I had ordered the wrong dessert or if everything he ordered really was better?
When paying the bill, I could hear a bit of clatter coming from upstairs and tempting smells filled the air. The kitchen and an additional dining room were on the next floor and I resisted the urge to ask if I could check it out. I will be back. I am sure of it.
We had a lovely date night and fabulous food. How lucky we are to live in the Hudson Valley and be able to enjoy the luxury of eating out and being Fed Well? We are thankful and head home before the rain begins and the light fades not only behind the clouds, but into night.