Out of Town: Terrapin in Rhinebeck, NY

Okay guys, critical posts seem to be popular! But it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so I just have to bring it back to the lighter side of things. Let’s talk about Terrapin.

While up in Rhinebeck, our first night involved walking door to door, hitting up every restaurant in its downtown two-block radius, eventually realizing just how popular an eating destination this quaint little town really is. With a required wait at every location, we went for the shortest line at Terrapin Bistro (also because they had a TV showing the first night of short track in the Winter Olympics!).

And what we had here definitely set the culinary theme for the rest of the weekend. Fresh ingredients, soulful cooking, and clean, simple flavors make for very good food.

We started with the roasted garlic soup and potato gnocchi in sage cream sauce. The aroma of warm creamy garlic topped with chili oil was so comforting on that snowy night, out in the middle of the open Hudson Valley. And even better, was the handmade gnocchi – the softest I’ve ever encountered – swimming in a pool of smooth sage cream alongside slices of sauteed duck liver and shiitake mushroom. The duck provided a soothing, very subtle hint of gaminess. But the memorable factor here is the soft, silky texture of the gnocchi.

But to trump even the most satisfying of appetizers, was the Hudson Valley Farmer’s Pasta. Fresh gemelli pasta in a very light ricotta sauce, with spaghetti squash, grilled corn, onions, and the star of the show – kale. The crunchy, locally-grown kale shifts this entree from that of your typical carb-filled pasta order, to an earthy, balanced, thoughtful meal.

Also great is the barbecue duck quesadilla with a tangy mango-avocado salsa topping. The duck’s fine, but it’s the toasted, seasoned tortilla that offers a unique twist to the traditional Mexican snack.

With such generous servings, Jay and I had to take a doggy bag home. Even the next day, this stuff was fresher than some of the things you find in the city. If, for whatever reason, you’re up in Rhinebeck, make it a point to check this place out and order that kale pasta!

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