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TAVERN

Tavern Evokes Three Little Words: Fresh, Local, Seasonal
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“You can’t get much fresher than having your own farm.” With those few words, Executive Chef Eric Gabrynowicz hints at the philosophy and the food at Tavern, the small restaurant and bar nestled comfortably on the grounds of The Highlands Country Club in Garrison.
 
The approach to cuisine that pervades the entire operation can be summed up very well in just three words—fresh, local, and seasonal. Tavern does indeed have its own farm, albeit a small one—a two-acre tract of land on which farmer Brian Berger grows much of the produce used at Tavern and its sister restaurant, Valley at The Garrison, located just a stone’s throw away on Route 9. This time of year, fresh Jerusalem artichokes, celery root, rapini, and Swiss chard make their way from Tavern’s farm to its tables.
 
Whenever possible, Gabrynowicz uses produce and products from other local and regional farms in creating the restaurant’s appetizers, entrees, and desserts. The list of farms is impressive and includes Renewal Farm, Garrison Farms, Bloominghill Farm, Glynwood Farms, Fishkill Farms, and Meiller’s abattoir. When “going local” isn’t possible, producers and farms from a bit further afield in New YorkState or elsewhere in the US are tapped. But the “shopping” is always as close to home as possible.
 
Tavern’s ambience requires special mention. With its tiny bar tucked into the corner, warm fireplace, wooden plank floors, and homey pantry-like shelving, Tavern exudes warmth. It could well define both comfortable and cozy.
 
But it’s mainly about the food, food that starts with the “starters.”
 
Gabrynowicz, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who gained much of his experience in Manhattan at the Union Square Café and Tabla, points to two favorites. The Raclette is a wash-rind Swiss style cheese served with pickled, local vegetables that he says might have been harvested, “eight months ago or last week.” Keep in mind that the veggies are pickled. He also takes delight in describing one of his delicious seasonal soups—Kabocha squash, topped off with fresh black pepper and New YorkState maple cream.
 
Other appetizers include cranberries and blue (?) with local greens, local sheep’s milk blue cheese and white balsamic vinegar; Tavern salad consisting of local greens, peach vinaigrette and ricotta salata; corned beef hash with eggs; Tavern wings with chipotle bbq and creamy blue cheese; or seared Hudson Valley foie gras and Parmesan risotto balls.   
 
Fall dinner entrees are no less diverse. One mainstay is a beef selection from Meiller’s abattoir in Pine Plains, NY, that varies from day to day. Rib eye steak, filet mignon, and other cuts come with goat cheese mashed potatoes, and sweet and spicy green tomato chutney. Current entrees also include Lazy Farms pork confit; pan seared wild striped bass; braised Cedar River short ribs; roasted Murray’s chicken; pan roasted wild salmon; steak frites; and Tavern pasta. A intriguing array of side dishes includes re-fried fingerling potatoes; bacon-grape stew; miso butter braised romaine; sweet potato puree; German potato salad; sweet and spicy green tomato chutney; celery root puree; and heirloom tomato-eggplant ragu. 
 
And, it wouldn’t be autumn in the HudsonValley without apple crisp for dessert. Naturally, the apples are local. For chocolate lovers, dessert may take the form of the brownie Sunday with a cayenne ganache.
 
The concept of staying very close to home for everything served at Tavern even carries over to the bar. Forty bottled beers are available—all brewed in New York state. Tavern’s wine list is exclusively American. “It’s fun to find wines that are different; not typical of the U.S.,”
Gabrynowicz explained, pointing to two good examples: Barbera, a versatile red wine made from the third-most planted grape variety in Italy and produced by Palmina Wines in California; and Tocai Friulano, an aromatic white wine reminiscent of Italy’s Friuli region but produced just a few miles to the north, at Millbrook Wineries.
 
Tavern also offers an excellent lunch menu featuring “Grown up” mac and cheese; pulled pork grilled cheese; roasted tomato chicken salad; three-egg omelette; Tavern burger; BBQ short-rib sandwich; and chicken cheddar wrap. A children’s menu is also available.
 
Tavern is open Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from noon until 9pm and Fridays and Saturdays from noon until 10pm, and is closed on Monday and Tuesday. A special New Year’s Eve tasting is being planned. Appetizers range from $9 to $17 while entrees range from $22 to $32. Lunch entrees from $11 to $13. Tavern is located on Route 9D in Garrison, just south of Route 403. Reservations are recommended. Visit the website at highlandscountryclub.net.

 

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