October 2005 - Swiss Hutte
6.38 - 7, 6, 5.5, 5.5, 5.5, 5, 5, 5
The dying sun of a late October, Halloween-ish late afternoon drew Dinner Party of Eight to the Teator residence (remarkable, the sun, that is, because of the almost continuous previous three weeks of rain and clouds). After a round, or two, of shiraz , pinot grigio, Tanqueray and tonic (guess who?) and a diet soda, and after admiring the end result of the summer renovation project, we departed for the Adams to drop off their car, waited for Ken’s shortcut, and left the six-in-the-dark to guess where we were going. Past the bridge, past Claverack, past Aubergine, but finally the Catamount driveway led us to Swiss Hutte, near the state border on Rt 23.
This dinner date also marked three years (36 months, wow) of DP8 culinary excursions.
The Up Side: Ambience immediately exudes, reassuring and attractive, with dark brown wood paneling, beamed ceilings, a working fireplace, large glass windows on the south wall (too bad it wasn’t light enough to see the ski center), linen tops, upholstered high back chairs, and a round table. Comfortable, cozy, classic.
Drinks, for six of us, started with two bottles (three, eventually) of Cotes du Rhone red, a smooth but with-a-hint-of-kick wine. Judy enjoyed a Kir Royale; otherwise, a soda filled out the libation list.
Shared appetizers included Escargot Bourguinonne and the Garlic Sausage on Yukon Potatoes (tangy mustard accompaniment). Those who shared deemed them worthy.
Salads of greens and tomatoes were refreshed by slivers of celery root, topped by a pleasing Dijon creamy dressing, except for Ken’s oil and vinegar. Deceptively larger than they first looked, the salads were considered a worthy starter.
Entrees reflected our usual variety. Ken and Kriss had the steak aux poivre, Ken ranking his one of the best in a long time, and Kriss thinking her well done request may have been given to Ken (her leftovers went to Krypton). Tom had the end cut of a prime rib special, good but a little fatty, not too unlike the usual cut. Judy and Deb T had the Oriental shrimp on a bed of very soy marinated vegetables. Don and Tim enjoyed the double thick pork chop, not very moist but favorably lean, with caramelized Granny Smith apple slices (a generous supply) and a crisp onion topping. Deb K selected the halibut special, thought it ordinary, but noted the quality of the sauces. The consensus declared a very good meal, surpassed in our memories by a handful of other restaurants we have visited but still one to heartily recommend.
And the desserts. Ummmm, I think, was both the moan of anticipation and arrival of desserts. Swiss flags topped the cookie boat (wafer, ice cream and fruit), a chocolate sundae, a lemon pastry – ice cream concoction, added to by the choices of the Sambuca and Frangelica drinkers, which finished off the evening.
Service by our blond, younger-than-us waiter (shame on us for not getting her name) was friendly and competent. Ken’s cup of coffee was replenished regularly once she realized he was serious about getting served in his “quarter cup.”
The tab for the evening was about $130 per couple, medium high for us, but quite understandable.
The Down Side: The round table is always our first choice (and thanks for the reservation taker for getting us a round table) but our table was placed so closely to the most proximate table and too closely to the corner that our poor waiter needed to circle around that other table to serve us. It was almost comical a couple of times, and we tried to help out by passing drinks or food around the table for her.
The leisurely pacing of our evening (three hours) was enjoyable once we had food in front of us. However, the wait for the initial filling of the water glasses, taking the drinks order, delivering the drinks, and passing out menus was a bit more leisurely than we wanted. Once the salads appeared, the leisurely pacing was enjoyable.
The one regret about a 7 p.m reservation this time of year is not getting to see the scenery. The apple orchards and fields around Claverack became invisible in the dark, and the ski slopes just outside the large dining room windows would have been dramatic just a couple of hours earlier.
Our innuendos remained predictably lowbrow ... and our conversations went the usual all over the place, most notably Tom’s trip to Cleveland with HS friends, Judy’s planned retirement, updates on the kids and others’ kids, Catskill doings, the safety of eating salt, and so on.
=====All in all, Swiss Hutte was a satisfying visit to territory most of us DP8ers seldom visit, and a good benchmark for past and future dinner dates.