It's not often that The New York Times is charmed by something being untrendy, but the publication said a few years back that Brasserie Swiss's lack of chicness "is the key to its appeal." The timeworn decor leaves glittering fixtures and pomp to new culinary kids on the block, and instead complements the restaurant's menu—a roster of traditional dishes such as fondue and snails bourguignon. Many of the meats come from a Colorado butcher, because the Geneva Conventions state that Swiss food can only be sourced from mountainous regions. These meats include the veal cutlets used for the sauteed wiener schnitzel, and the lamb chops that are paired with roesti, a crispy potato side. In true European fashion, the desserts are hardly overlooked: diners should save room for decadent creations such as chocolate mousse or coupe cherry Swiss steeped in wine.
As Rolf Baumgartner, co-owner of Brasserie Swiss for nearly 35 years, prepares the European-inspired meals, his wife Verena minds the dining room. "She's an enthusiastic interpreter of Swiss culture," the Times said adoringly. "Ask her about the large Alpine horns on the walls or about Swiss culinary preferences, and she will have stories to tell."
Red Hen Bistro's made-from-scratch menu revolves around the fresh, seasonal meats, fish, and produce in French and Californian cuisine. Francophiles will feel conflicted in trying to select only one dish, be it the croque madame, an upscale ham-and-cheese sandwich topped with a sunny-side-up egg ($10.95), or the salad nicoise, a hearty helping of organic greens crowned with roasted potatoes and hard-boiled eggs ($8.95). California dreamers can sample West Coast–inspired temptations such as tamales with braised pork ($8.95) and fish tacos served in crisp tortillas ($9.95). Simplicity seekers can opt for the tomato soup and grilled cheese ($9.95) while enjoying the restaurant’s attention to detail—evident in both the food and front-of-house service. With rich-red walls, large windows boasting street views, and touches of French country charm, Red Hen Bistro exudes an air of casual intimacy, though lacy nightclothes are discouraged.
Star chef and restaurateur Peter Xaviar Kelly opened his first restaurant, Xaviar’s in Garrison, when he was 23. Since then he has battled Bobby Flay, cooked at the James Beard House, introduced Anthony Bourdain to the Hudson Valley's bounty, and opened more restaurants. At his latest, Xaviars X2O on the Hudson, the Zagat-rated menu mixes Asian embellishments with Italian and Spanish touches and traditional French techniques. Thai barbecue, for example, spices the grilled portuguese octopus appetizer, and a brown-sugar-cayenne crust plays off the béarnaise sauce that tops aged-and-grilled cowboy rib eye steaks. In the Dylan Lounge, chefs slice sushi rolls into edible artworks such as jalapeño hamachi with pumpkin-seed oil.
An active turn-of-the-century Victorian pier hosts Xaviars' dining room on the Hudson. Vaulted 25-foot ceilings take support from three walls of glass that grant sweeping views of the Tappan Zee and George Washington Bridges, pepper dinners with sunsets over the Palisades, and allow guests to keep eyes out for approaching giants. Inside, dark-wood furniture, mod lighting, and stark white tablecloths set an elegant stage for edible performances.
Epernay’s executive chef Jayson Grossberg trained under legendary French chef Jean-Louis Palladin before attending New York’s Culinary Institute of America. Grossberg has used his pabulum-preparing powers for good and not evil, recently redesigning Epernay’s menu to add flavorful new dishes, such as the summer gazpacho with crab meat and lime ($10.95). Fresh-caught mussels come in three broths, such as the “a la Linda” with saffron and tomato ($15.95 single serving, $19.95 shared platter). If you'd like to keep your meal as light at a globetrotting eccentric's hot-air balloon, try a juicy beet salad with summer melon, arugula, and feta cheese ($10.95). Reward your stomach for keeping quiet during last night’s visit to the opera with an entree such as caramelized sea scallops with sweet corn, bacon, and tomato ($26.95). Or delve into the crispy duck breast with wild mushrooms, pistachios, and asparagus soaking in a sundried blueberry jus ($26.95) to enjoy a culinary harmony unseen since the California Raisins dominated the airwaves.
Allendale's seasoned skillet wielders sizzle up a menu of breakfast dishes and, according to New Jersey Monthly magazine, some of the best soups, salads, and sandwiches in the state. Awaken sluggish appetites with a selection from the bevy of breakfast spreads, such as the Truck Driver ($7.95)— two eggs, toast, and pancakes, with a choice of bacon, sausage, ham, or CB radio—or the homemade corned-beef hash ($8.25). Or quell the moans of afternoon stomach gnomes with a hearty helping of Kyle’s Famous pulled pork—slow-roasted succulence marinated in a signature barbecue sauce and enswathed between the soft ends of a roll slathered with its pre-fame friend, coleslaw ($7.95). Served on a wide variety of breads, rolls, and wraps, Allendale Eats! sandwiches are made with Boar’s Head brand meats and cheeses, including the Virginia ham ($5.45) and eggplant parmigiana hero ($6.95). Like a vegetable chef's washing machine, Allendale Eats! rotates soup flavors, offering up classics such as chicken noodle ($2.95 for a small cup) and distinctive delicacies such as potato leek, and crab and corn chowder ($3.95 each for a small cup). For junior noshers, a children’s menu slings out a slew of mini meals, such as a chocolate-chip pancake served with bacon and orange juice ($4.95), and the grilled-cheese sandwich served with a cookie and a drink ($4.95). A new, ever-changing dinner menu adds nightly pasta, entree, and dessert specials to the mix.