Over the past decade, Terrapin, known for its creative, conscious, and locally-influenced fare, has gone from a culinary newcomer to a regional institution. It’s the kind of place you can count on for a tailored wine list, a perfect date night, and a surprisingly affordable lunch. I’ve welcomed friends to the area at a table in their dining room, and have made special mid-day detours to their bistro lounge on my way to business meetings in the Hudson Valley region. It’s been nearly 8 years since I discovered Terrapin, and last week I was graciously invited to a tasting to officially re-experience all that Terrapin has to offer – and I have to say, it’s just as impressive as ever.
The memorable dining experience is as much about the food as it is about the space.
Housed in a beautifully reclaimed church in Rhinebeck NY, Terrapin’s shingle-clad parapets cut a striking silhouette against the evening sky – enormous arched windows lit by a constellation of sleek modern lanterns. The restaurant is divided into two spaces with a shared outdoor patio.As you enter, to the right is the grand dining room, located in the main hall of the former church. To the left, Red Bistro – a casual companion to the Terrapin experience, and the perfect place to enjoy a beer and a burger, or meet up with friends after work. Peruse their innovative menu of mixed drinks, and sample a series of tapas, including the Duck Quesadilla Wedge, Goat Cheese filled Wontons, Grilled Lamb Chop with Chimichurri, and Warm Brie with Mango Crostini.
Representing the Hudson Valley wine region in all of its colors, the wine list offers a tasting tray of five different varieties sourced from the surrounding villages of Germantown (Rose, Tousey Winery), Clinton Corners (Seyval Blanc, Clinton Vineyards), Millbrook (Pinot Noir, Millbrook Vineyards), and Gardiner (Traminette, Whitecliff Vineyards).
To begin the meal, I sampled two appetizers, the incredibly fresh and surprisingly light Macadamia-Nut Tempura Calamari with Pineapple dipping sauce, and the Roasted Mission Figs Stuffed with Roquefort Blue Cheese – served with sauteed grapes, toasted hazelnuts and aged fig vinegar. The dish is a wonderful symphony of savory, tangy, and sweet that also doubles as a salad.
For the main course I ordered what could easily have been the most boring dish on the menu, but turned out to be one of the best – the grilled chicken. But not just any grilled chicken – the Grilled Chicken Breasts with Vidalia Onion-Smoked Tomato Relish, Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes.
This is quite possibly the greatest chicken dish I’ve ever had. The smokiness of the chicken, the fresh pop of the tomato relish, the smooth savoriness of the potatoes, and the charred sweetness of the brussell sprouts made every bite an absolute pleasure.
For dessert I tried two, since I couldn’t make up my mind. The Blueberry Cake – somewhere in the angel food family, but with a better density and butteriness, covered with a fresh blueberry sauce, and the chocolate chip cookie sandwich with Ronnybrook ice cream (my favorite local dairy in Ancramdale NY). Which dessert was better? Tough call. The blueberry cake is everything you love about summer, and the ice cream sandwich is simply a classic done right.
If you’re planning to visit Terrapin, be sure to call ahead for a table, especially on the weekends as the NYC-weekender crowd heads north. On your way, look into the showtimes at Upstate Films, the art house cinema located across the street. A memorable meal and a great movie always make for a perfect pairing.
6426 Montgomery Street
Rhinebeck, NY 12572
Open daily 11:30 am – 12:00 am
All photos by Sparrow Hall unless otherwise noted