Sunday, December 13, 2015


Note: Although I previously posted this in my trip to Tarrytown, I updated this after interviewing the Sous Chef, Ariel. 

Hotels usually have reputations of having a so-so restaurant.  That is certainly not the standard for the Double Tree Hilton in Tarrytown, NY.  Their restaurant, Bistro Z, is one that deserves attention even when you are not staying there.  Chef Craig Leonard is the brains behind the food.  With farms not being so far away, Chef Craig is about the use local sources.  Seasonal menus change to reflect what is locally sourced within a 50 mile range and are indicated with stars.

It’s not just produce that makes up the 70% locally sourced menu.  Chef Craig told me that they obtain fresh duck, rabbit, and pork in the Hudson Valley.  Beef comes from farms in New Jersey.

Ariel Cacciaglia is the Sous Chef who is responsible for coming up with orders, specials and watching the line. Ariel also preps the soups, stocks and sauces.  She had prepared a lunch of Fish and Chips…big deal?  Beer battered fish fried up and served with cole slaw…so?  A local dark beer and capers are used in the batter bringing out the flavor and making them less salty.  Whereas most restaurants use cod, Bistro Z uses Chilean Sea Bass.  They buy the Chilean Sea Bass whole and then use the portions left from cutting up the steaks.  This was one of her ideas. I missed this.

Let’s get to the dinner.  Bread…two types.  I did not partake as I wanted to save my tummy room for everything else.  Nancy did partake and said that it was perfect regarding both the texture of the crust and chewiness of the inside. 

I asked if our waitress could make fresh lemonade.  With the restaurant having a bar, this can be done.  She also asked if I wanted any fruit in it and opted for strawberries, which turned out to be sweet, considering that the season was quite over. 

It was the end of Restaurant Week in Hudson area as those restaurants participating had special menus at a fixed price.  A Board of Directors comes decides on the proteins that the restaurant is to use.  Bistro Z creates the sides.  This may be done so that each of the restaurants has a different menu.  Although the choices were quite appealing, especially for the price, we decided to order off the main menu.  I could have had the Rabbit Ragu with fresh Pappardelle pasta or Maple Brined Pork Chop with a blackberry sauce.  Next time.

Nancy requested a Caesar Salad with the dressing made on the premises.  I love fresh beets and ordered the Trio of Baby Beet Salad.  Three different colored beets with grape tomatoes, frisee, and a tarragon vinaigrette. 

As we were approaching the podium, I noticed that there was a platter of salsa, chips and guacamole. (There is a sign revealing the “Soup of the Moment”. Great idea in case the chef opts to whip up a different “soup of the day”).  I asked our wonderful waitress if we could partake in a sample of the guacamole, wondering as to whether they use fresh avocados.  No doubt that they do and just the right amount of kick.

Chef Craig wanted us to sample a few other appetizers.  Twist my arm.  House Cured Salmon with asparagus spears, frisee, and an herbed crème fraiche. The salmon was neither salty nor oily. Too bad I can’t buy this at home. 

I do not tend to enjoy Brie.  This was a Baked Brie with lingonberries, toasted almond and a warm baguette.  Nancy loves cheese and figured that she’ll eat it.  Then I tried it. I guess all brie cheeses are not the same! Baked must make a difference as well.  Add those lingonberries and almonds and you have one excellent taste bud pleasure.   Nancy agreed.  Ariel later told me that heating up that type of cheese, just enough to take the chill out of it, changes the flavor completely.   

Now we are onto the main course.  Considering what I had so far, I had expectations for their Lamb Chops.  Two double loin chops cooked to my request (I like them just about well-done), with braised spinach and kale, along with a Potato and Squash Gratin.  I asked to leave out the Crispy Garlic.  Another OMG experience!  The combination of potato and squash (not sure which kind) with the melted cheese made for a great “side”.  Talk about a savory dish!

Nancy went for a “surf and turf” of Beef Tenderloin and Grilled Tiger Shrimp.  I believe that the tenderloin was like filet mignon.  Yukon mashed potatoes, real baby carrots, and asparagus accompanied this entrée.  “Tiger Shrimp seems to have the best taste and consistency,” Ariel said. “When we clean the shrimp we then place it in oil and shallots.”   A Bordelaise Sauce added an extra flavor. 

Somehow, there was room for dessert and not “jello”.  Chocolate Explosion sounded like a chocoholics dream. “Warm Chocolate Soufflé Cake with Center Ganache Served with Vanilla Ice Cream”.  Nancy went for the Maple Sugar Bruleed New York Style Cheesecake with spiced pecans.  This is certainly a specialty of Bistro Z.  It’s an individual mini-cake rather than a slice. I could definitely say that I would buy the cheesecake if it were sold in NYC.

We had breakfast the next morning with a choice of a buffet (hot and cold) or off the menu.  Whereas most restaurants serve hash browns or such, tri-colored potatoes were the offering.  Purple, red and white.  I ordered eggs over easy and skipped having any bread for dipping these special spuds in the yolk.

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