common / Restaurants
Savory Fare in a Stately Setting
In a shady grove off Route 9D sits the secluded Plumbush Inn, a rambling Victorian nestled among oaks and maples, where lunch and dinner are served daily except Mondays. To those driving by, it might seem there is not much activity on the wooded estate, but the restaurant housed in the old country manse regularly serves “rustic American cuisine” to a wide variety of guests, including millionaires, ambassadors, and prominent television personalities.
The interior of the Plumbush Inn resembles a country manor; some of the oak paneling actually comes from an old estate in the south of France. The heavy oak bar is an ideal setting for a scotch nightcap or a fine plate of Beef Wellington.
And the food is fitting for the setting: While many restaurants today offer lighter fare for more money, Plumbush serves hearty meals, such as their trademark Beef Wellington. Other popular items include the rack of lamb and Atlantic salmon, and, especially, apple fritters, a dessert specialty. About half of the menu never changes, while the rest depends on the season. During Lent, for example, the restaurant offers fish and wine dinners on Fridays.
Like many local restaurants, Plumbush strives to use local, seasonal ingredients, to “pay respect to the purity of taste found in freshly harvested, local food.”
During good weather, many diners choose to sit on the outdoor terraces, with views of the gardens and fountains on the six acre property. Jeannette Doellgast, who owns Plumbush along with her husband, Chef Mohsen Alam El Din said that the restaurant and the surrounding estate offers guests a “mini-vacation.” Long lunches and dinners are common; in fact, one time some diners stayed at their table, enjoying food and conversation, for eight hours.
Others stay overnight, in one of the three guestrooms Plumbush offers. A continental breakfast is included, as the restaurant is only open for lunch and dinner. Plumbush, with its private catering facilities, hosts weddings and other special events. Its ballroom has a capacity of 180. The restaurant also provides catering for private dinner parties in the area. Recently, Chef Mohsen served a New York Times bestselling author along with Fortune 500 CEOs and an Academy Award winning actor.
At the heart of Plumbush is the story of an Egyptian immigrant who found and seized the opportunity offered by America.
Mohsen Alam El Din was born in a village 25 miles outside of Cairo, the Egyptian capital. He grew up eating stuffed pigeon, roasted goose, and slow cooked lamb, and those early tastes influence his cooking today. Plumbush uses many Mediterranean seasonings, spices, and extra virgin olive oil.
After coming to the States, Alam El Din worked at a bank for a little while and then, recognizing his love of good food, enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. He went on to work at a Manhattan restaurant called MarmaladePark, where he met Jeannette, who also worked there. After working at the Marriott Marquis and the Bear Mountain Inn, Alam El Din owned a couple of his own restaurants, one in Manhattan and then 17 Main in Mount Kisco.
One day in 2004, Jeannette and Mohsen were driving by the Plumbush property and stopped to ask if it was for sale. Ans Bender and Jerry Albin, who had run a popular Swiss restaurant and inn there for some time, had in fact decided to retire. Soon, El Din and Doellgast had opened their own restaurant at the site.
The house itself is historic, having served as the residence of Robert Parker Parrott, one of Cold Spring’s most illustrious entrepreneurs. Parrott, who developed the eponymous gun which was used widely throughout the Civil War, lived at Plumbush after marrying the sister of the president of the West Point Foundry, where he was inspector of ordnance.
After Parrott died in 1877, the Moffett family moved in, later to be replaced by the Shewans. James Shewan, a Scot, built a shipping yard in Brooklyn—the first to be equipped with electric power. With his millions, he and his Welsh wife and five children summered at their Hudson River Estate, called Inverguie. In 1925, the place was ravaged by fire, and the Cold Spring villagers, instead of coming to help put out the blaze, instead looted the estate.
After the fire, the Shewan daughters moved into the house down the road—Plumbush. One of the sisters, Agnus, who never married, added a warehouse room where she stored all of her worldly goods until she died in 1970 with no heirs. Today that storeroom is Plumbush’s large ballroom. Afterward, the house was converted to a restaurant, which was later purchased by Ans Bender and Jerry Albin, who ran their Swiss restaurant and inn there until they retired in 2004.
Alam El Din and Doellgast, who live in Brewster with their three young children, enjoy working in Philipstown, which Doellgast called “the perfect place to be.”
“The people are so eclectic and that’s what makes it so interesting,” she said.
In keeping with the character of the town, Doellgast says they work to take care of their environment.
“We recycle everything possible. We try to use everything possible more than once. For example, when customers leave the table, we put [their] water in the flower garden. We have rain barrels to collect water for our garden.”
Currently, they are replacing the white fence that used to line the property with green shrubs and “low-water, drought-tolerant perennials to add color to the street.”
Plumbush has won high praise from Zagat and HudsonValley Magazine. For more information, visit plumbushinn.net.