Larry had been watching the progress all summer, and every time he bumped into Graziano, would ask him how it was going and when did he expect to open. Soon.. was the response. As June crept into July, then August and September, we watched, waited, and made sure to duly update our friends on the renovation. As every restaurateur knows, a lot of work goes into opening a café. The monumental task of turning an old brick building that had earlier housed a hair salon and most recently a ground floor office space, into a up-to-date food establishment takes a lot of planning, and tons of elbow grease.
It’s now been two weeks since the Downtown Café re-opened at the top of Broadway (near Spring Street). The neighborhood has been in a buzz since the soft opening. The dinner hours on the last two Fridays and Saturdays were packed with old friends and neighbors who came to eat. And everyone who ate there agrees, Graziano has got his ‘A’ game back.
It’s a simple homey place, a long wooden counter and center aisle separates the tiny open kitchen from the sturdy wood tables and chairs next to the wall. A mix of retro vinyl bar stools and plain wooden stools sit at the counter. When the weather permits, some of the wooden tables are moved outside for sidewalk dining.
It’s our opinion (shared by quite a few aficionados) that the counter is the best place to sit. Larry & I walk in with our bottle of wine (he’s still working on a wine license), hop on a pair of bar stools and wait for the Hello’s and Hi’s to stop so we can look over the Specials or ask Graziano what’s in the fridge. It’s like going to Nanna’s house for family dinner. You never know what he’s cooked up but if there isn’t anything on the menu that appeals, you know Graziano can make you something.
On earlier Fridays and Saturdays we ordered Italian Style Baked Chicken and Roasted Pork Loin straight off the menu. We noticed the Pate with Crostini has been a big hit at the neighboring tables. Hhmm, may have to try that one next.
We noticed the Beef Stew was a Special but we had already ordered. So we went back the next morning to get it for Breakfast. It’s true, stew always taste better the day after it’s made. This week I ordered the Grilled Pork Chop from the menu and Graziano made Larry a Grilled Salmon with Lemon and Artichoke. We have shared side orders of Grilled Skinny Asparagus, Homemade Pappardelle with Tomato Sauce, Double Mashed Potatoes, and Heirloom Tomato Salad.
This morning, I went to help Graziano make rice balls and meatballs for the Italian Festival. When Graziano pulled out this humongous(!!!) tub of cooked flavored rice, I thought we were planning to make a million rice balls. Turns out all that rice only made a few hundred 3” balls. These were definitely the biggest rice balls I’ve ever seen, actually the only rice balls I’ve ever made. My family is Chinese and my sisters will never believe I helped to make rice balls.. almost as strange as throwing rice at weddings!
BC Gee. owner of the Rondout Inn
The British are coming! The British are coming!
Today when I hear this, it usually means we have guests coming in from across the pond.
But back in colonial days, we would have grabbed the silver and the milk cow and run for the hills. The British has been soundly defeated at the Battle of Saratoga by Washington’s Continental Army and they were mad as hornets. What better site for their revenge than the newly created New York State Capital, Kingston?
On a Fall October day in 1777, soldiers from British-captured New York City, sailed up the Hudson River to retaliate. Landing at Kingston Point, the red coats marched along the Rondout Creek and up to the Stockade area (now known as Uptown Kingston), burning houses along the way. And since the colonial militia was off fighting elsewhere (such as the Battle of Saratoga), only a few brave locals were left to repel the invading British soldiers.
In just a few hours, the angry redcoats burned down over 300 buildings. Luckily, most of the townsfolk had already left before the invasion. It was a dramatic moment in the American Revolutionary War.
In a few more weeks, Kingston will celebrate this biennial event marking the 240th anniversary of the battle with its 20th anniversary reenactment on the weekend of October 13, 14 and 15. Highlighted by a dramatic British invasion at Kingston Point Park along the Hudson River, red coated British Troops, colonial militiamen and historically garbed townspeople will present three full days of free activities.
What other city in New York State, let alone the United States, celebrates their burning down? Come and explore today’s bigger and better Kingston, with its three distinct districts. Tour the British military camps and watch 18th century company drills. Take advantage of the various historic presentations and lectures at the Senate House Museum, the Persen House, and the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Hear first-hand accounts by the long-dead at the Old Dutch Church Cemetery. Dance to live 18th century music at a costume Ball held at Kingston City Hall. Cheer on the Colonial militia, who though outnumbered and defeated, lived on to rebuild.
The Burning of Kingston is weekend-long celebration that draws thousands of visitors to Kingston NY. For
more details and full schedule of events: www.burningofkingston.com
It’s an 8am load-in. Which is not atypical for an antique event. We dealers are used to being up early, ready to back into our allotted space and unload a carload of merchandise at an ungodly hour. Actually, the Upstate Smorgasburg starts at a decent hour. When we do E.T. (Elephant’s Trunk) in Norwalk CT, we have to be on line by 5:30 am, just to get onto the field.
I’m really glad too, that Smorgasburg is only one weekend per month (third Saturday and Sunday of the month, from May through October). Last year’s schedule of every Saturday from August to October was exhausting. By the time we loaded in at 8am, worked our booth and packed up at 6pm; we barely had enough energy to unpack the car at the end of each Saturday. And this was every Saturday for 13 weeks. My husband Larry sardonically observed that it was easier for all the other vendors there – they was half our age!
Part of the appeal of Smorgasburg is the food. The food vendors prepare and cook their food on the site, offerings range from oysters on the half shell to ramen burgers. We usually check out the food as soon as we finish setting up the booth. We want to know what we can grab when we get a chance to eat. So far our favorites are the smoked salmon skewers from Hook Line Sinker and the Poke Bowls from Ono Grinds Poke.
All complaining aside, it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s actually a lot of fun meeting friendly people, especially those who recognize what we have and can pinpoint what year they (or their parent) had one. And it’s a lot of fun re-discovering all the stuff we had forgotten we even had. We’ve been selling mostly mid-20th century housewares and accessories. Mad Men has made a huge impact on our collective memories.
Last month we brought old record albums to the show. Larry had found several cartons while emptying out the upstairs closet. We had moved them from New York City 28 years ago, shoved them into the closet and forgotten them. After he sorted them into Keep and Discard, there were 2 groups of cartons, one of 2 and the other of 6. Guess which ones were the Keep?
The Smorgasburg buyers have all been impressed at how good a condition these records are in. But then, no one has played them in at least 28 years. The two cartons of mostly Disco albums have been a big hit at the show. Who knew how popular Disco albums would be 30 years later? Donna Summer has never had it so good.
BC Gee, proprietor of Mezzanine Vintage & The Rondout Inn
Smorgasburg at the Hutton Brickyards in Kingston, NY is a monthly market every third weekend of the month from May through October. Situated on ten acres on the Hudson River waterfront, Smorgasburg Upstate features some of the Hudson Valley and upstate region’s most exciting chefs, food purveyors, and craft brewers alongside a curated selection of handmade design, vintage clothing and antiques. There are also a few of our favorite Brooklyn vendors as well activities for children and family-friendly musical fare.
Market hours are 11am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Public Parking available on site. Dogs are welcome and must be on leash at all times.
It’s early Friday night, our guests have arrived, checked in, and given a tour of the premises. And they’re hungry. Where should we send them?
We have 12 restaurants within walking distance from our inn. Depending on the type of food you want and your price range, you could have simple stuff like hamburgers on a covered porch to fresh Mexican to fine dining at a bistro style restaurant.
Not ready for dinner yet? Grab a seat at Brunette Wine Bar, the exquisite little neighborhood wine bar and enjoy a glass off their very interesting selection of small vintages. Then when you’re ready, continue down to the waterfront. Stroll along the bulkhead and check out the boats docked at the City Marina or the Hudson River Maritime Museum docks.
Or walk directly to the Southern BBQ restaurant Ole Savannah, furthest along the Rondout Creek. It’s got the best view of the water. Indulge in a drink at the outside bar and watch the boats come in. Grab an appetizer.
Then there’s Dermot Mahoney’s Irish Pub where you can drink, watch sporting events and listen to live music. It’s got lots of atmosphere; the local Harley owners have adopted it as their go-to place. Next door is the Golden Ginza, the Japanese/Chinese restaurant set up with a sushi bar and teppanaki grill tables where the kids can ooh and aah over the “flipped egg into the toque” trick the grill chefs entertain the diners with. Across the street from them, the colorful Mexican restaurant Mole Mole has a broad menu of tasty tacos, soups, vegetarian entrees, interesting Mexican sodas and a bar stocked with a large selection of specialty rums.
And who’s not into Italian? You can’t miss Savona’s Trattoria’s sprawling sidewalk seating, and the huge servings of pasta and meats along with a full menu of Italian pastries. And across the street, the seafood restaurant Mariner’s Harbor, with its closed porch and tented patio offers a raw bar as well as a family friendly menu that families with kids can enjoy hanging out at.
When asked which is our own personal favorite; we have to admit it’s the intimate bistro Ship To Shore, whose chef/owner is a CIA (Culinary Institute of America) graduate. For lunch we’ve grabbed a fancy Chef’s Salad there and indulged in an extravagant dinner, a fine bottle of wine, finished with a fabulous French dessert. On other occasions, we’ve walked the extra block over to Armadillo, the Tex-Mex restaurant (where we had our first meal in Kingston 28 years ago) Their Jicama, tomato, avocado and corn salad is one of the most refreshing dishes we’ve ever had; and their Margaritas are rated No. 1 in town!
For breakfast, we recommend Dolce, a little café 2 blocks away from our inn.
The owner is from Venice (Italy) and she specializes in crepes, omelets and pancakes. They cook one dish at a time, so be patient! But if you’re into less carbs, head down to the new coffee shop Redstart Coffee Bar down at the bottom of the hill. Fresh coffee, egg sandwiches, simple baked goods and free WiFi in a pretty sunny open setting is a great way to start the day.
Need a dessert or a fancy cake to bring as a host/hostess gift? Stop by the fancy cake bakery Enchanted Cakes which has made itself a home on the waterfront. Everything is made from scratch and can even be ordered in advance.
(On the weekends, most of the kitchens stay open late; usually closing around 10PM.)
IS THERE ANY ROOM AT THE INN?
“Do you have any availability? No? Ok, I’ll call Barbara. No? Okay, let me check with Nancy then”.
After making several phones calls, and waiting for a couple of call backs, we discover there is no room at the inn and we have to tell the disappointed callers there are no rooms anywhere. We have been doing that all season long. As we are all friends, no one begrudges the time it takes but one day the light bulb went off!
Larry Zalinsky, co-owner of the Rondout Inn realized that his booking engine had opened the door to a wonderful opportunity: our own OTA (online travel agency). Free-to-Book, a booking engine based in Glasgow, Scotland had offered to develop a database of related inns and bed & breakfasts to create one entity for guests to book short term stays.
It took some time, a lot of work and pooling individual strengths and group skills, but after a couple of intense concentrated months, Kingston’s first OTA was born. We are a group of six individually operated bed & breakfasts, inns and apartment suites who love hosting and sharing their varied experiences. As innkeepers, we offer lavishly furnished inns, bed & breakfasts or apartment suites; and as hosts, we love sharing our knowledge of Kingston, the Mid-Hudson region, and all the different activities that the Hudson Valley offers.
The BoutiqueInnsofKingstonNY.com website works just like Expedia or Hotels.com’s websites. Just enter the dates you are looking to stay on the calendar, tell it how many guests are in the party, click on the Availability Button and see which of the six inns come back as available. You can book your stay directly on the website. It can’t get any easier!
Bel’s Inn, DeMew House, Forsyth Bed & Breakfast, Gallery Inn, Rondout Inn in the Rondout Waterfront District and Schwartz’s Inn in the Uptown Stockade District are the proud parents of BoutiqueInnsofKingstonNY.com , born July 1, 2017.
For more details, contact Larry Zalinsky, 845.399.2902 or Tamara Ehlin 845. 481.9148