Finally, in DP8’s twelfth year, we experienced
Terrapin, something I thought would have happened years ago. The shingled
turret of Terrapin presents a unique angle in Rhinebeck’s center, and
the reclamation of a church leads diners to enjoy a singular interior
But, to the important stuff first.
Terrapin’s menu is full and varied—from a cache of tapas, a few
soups, half-dozen salads, half dozen pasta-risotto entrées, a couple
vegetarian entrées, a few fish and a half-dozen-ish meat entrées. And
some of these entrées can be experienced as tapas. A bonus is the
owner’s commitment to locally sourced food. (I heard one or two
objections to the “full and varied” characterization.)
After more than a few minutes of perusal, we finally decided on
(and I acknowledge Terrapin’s web site):
==>Natural Beef Braised Short Rib Gratinee - Slow cooked in a rich beef
and onion broth over Yukon gold mashed potatoes topped with caramelized
onions and melted gruyere crostini (Chay: good, small portion of potatoes;
==>Venison Medallions with Juniper Demi-Glace - Goat cheese polenta,
large mound of spinach (Don: something different, a bit meatier than
expected but still a good choice; polenta was worthy; take home venison
portion was even better next day)
==>Farmer’s Market Crepes - Sauteed fresh Hudson Valley veggies in
buckwheat crepes with a raclette cheese mornay sauce (Deb K: good
vegetarian dish, sauce was good but not enough of it)
==>Uncle Vinny’s Special Rigatoni - Sauteed strips of chicken breast
with spinach in a tomato-sherry sauce (Kriss, Ken, Julie: all excellent)
==>Pumpkin Ravioli - Pecans, oven dried tomatoes and brown
butter-sherry sauce (Deb T: wonderful, pecans gave good texture; and Don
The appetizer round found:
==>Borscht - Beet, pork and beef stew with creme fraiche (Don: more
meat than expected but excellent; could have been an entrée)
==>Caesar Salad -- Romaine lettuce, grilled garlic bread croutons,
topped with anchovies (Kriss & Ken, of course, and Julie: all very
==>Baby Arugula Salad with Coach Farm Goat Cheese Wontons - Roasted red
& yellow bell peppers and a sesame vinaigrette (Deb T, Deb K: both
==>Endive, Candied Walnut, and French D’Auvergne Blue Cheese Salad -
Crisp apples and balsamic vinaigrette (Chay: a different choice,
We mostly heeded the menu’s advice that dessert is
best for people who complain of being too full.
==>Black Forest Trifle - With local cherries and bourbon (Don:
excellent, with a chocolate cream, and rich cake; and hoping to not be
taunted by Kriss’ pick)
==>Warm Molten Center Chocolate Cake - With Ronnybrook vanilla ice
cream (Kriss: rich & deep; Don enjoyed the taste Kriss gave him; no
regrets for Don)
==>Warm Berry Cake – blueberry layer cake with a hint of lemon zest,
topped with vanilla ice cream (Kerry: very good)
==>Ice Cream Sandwich - Ronnybrook vanilla ice cream between two
house-made chocolate chip cookies (shared-Deb K & Chay: a small
sandwich for each: good cookie, nice way to end a meal)
(Ronnybrook is a nearby Ancramdale dairy.)
Earlier, two round wire baskets, linen-lined,
eventually were placed on the table, but at the same time as the
appetizers. Twenty minutes sooner would have been better—plan or
oversight, we could not tell. Still, the crusty bread was tasty, and even
tastier were the inch round cheesy biscuits. A small bowl of softened
Service, mostly by Nadia, was efficient and helpful; the setting
was perhaps too busy, too tight to be personable. The black garbed, gray
aproned staff made for good team work, and we had a different wait staff
for water, and then busing, and even delivery.
However, two major glaring non-human blots influenced the evening.
One, it was cold and breezy, indoors! The continual cold draft gusted each
time the entry door was opened, and the restaurant’s attempt to stanch
the flow with two cloth curtains was patently insufficient. So, Chay and
Ken, at the end of the oval jutting into the open walkway, suffered the
brunt of the cold air and finally yielded, donning their coats to prevent
hypothermia. The end of the banquette, half protected by the back, half
not, got a cold shoulder. Those of us inside the banquette were reasonably
The second flaw, for some, was table configuration, with the oval
banquet ensconcing four diners beyond the physical reach of the servers.
So, every time some item was delivered to those four, the server-diner
connection needed very long arms or a long stretch over someone at the
table, or someone at the table needed to be part of the delivery chain. It
seems a disservice to Terrapin’s otherwise crafted planning to park
patrons beyond the reach of the servers. There were only two spots on the
floor where this could happen, and we were in one of those spots. I
suspect some of our scores dropped because of these two factors.
Terrapin’s ambiance is intriguing. The former
church space leaves a cavern to fill, and the space is left open—a 40 x
60 foot space perhaps. The dark wainscoting-filled ceiling made the height
feel less, with the large side window space dominating the south wall. The
north wall is much shorter, with frosted glass arches dividing the
restaurant from Red—the more casual side of the business. Entry to the
building is direct, with a maître d’ podium directing patrons left or
The walls are a solid coral-pinkish, the carpeting a gray-stippled
dark-blue-ish, and the banquette red-blue floral pattern. A raised level,
about two tables wide and perhaps fifty feet long, rises a few feet above
the main floor on the south and west walls. A guesstimate said capacity
might be 125 patrons.
The two back corners featured separate 15’ x 15’ beam skeletons
that could be separated by curtains, and one of them anchored a chord from
which another curtain could divide the dining floor. Industrial-look
venting tubes sprouted from the ceiling.
Lighting came from the ten four-layer art deco lamps, imitating the
church lamp placements. Other lighting came from a string of squeezed
tear-drop lights above the raised level, with the entire floor generally
lit by a couple spotlights and an array of track lighting on the ceiling.
Along the walls sprouted a dozen sconce-types, each a three-foot sinuous
thin pipe holding tall, lit candles.
of the seating was at solid tables with lattice-back chairs, complemented
by a banquette under the raised level and by two banquette-booths, one of
which we occupied. Our oval table—double white-linened, and protected by
the high booth wall—made for easy conversation level.
The table centerpiece was a four inch cube of thick glass with a
dozen carnations languidly leaning over the glass lip while a six inch
metal tube allowed votive candlelight to peer through the small
The drink selection was a little subdued with only four red
drinkers—one bottle of Bula 2011 Montsant, while two sodas and two waters
completed the array. Terrapin’s wine list is a long one, neatly
categorized, with a long list of half-bottles available. Wine markup
prices seemed fair.
Ken’s coffee cup was intermittently refilled, and the evening’s
pacing was comfortable for most – two hours, fifteen (unless you were
enduring the cold).
bill—including tax, tip, and drink—came to $120 per couple. Very good
food, competent service (physical), intriguing ambiance, and a couple
major shortcomings comprised the evening’s highlights.
Off we drove to brave an
especially cold November evening
We started the evening at the Monteverds’, where
Kriss had splayed the counter with a plates of: 1- three types of
crackers, two cheeses, pepperoni; 2- Krause’s malt balls, Krause’s
foil-wrapped chocolate, cashews; and 3- the healthy plate of grapes,
celery, apple slices, baby carrots. Ken took care of our liquid needs—a
red, a white, a rose, beer, and soda.
With the Adamses gone until spring, Julie and Kerry capably filled
in this evening.
Weather was the big topic, with the day’s high about ten degrees
below average, and tomorrow’s forecast to be fifteen degrees colder,
with high wind—a perfect January day before Thanksgiving. On the way to
Rhinebeck, we drove through a few squalls, one that was heavy enough to
make visibility interesting. Still, Ken drove 60+, with Don trying to stay
in sight on a sometimes wet, near-freezing road on a dark early evening.
Fortunately, the drive back was drier.
Other topics touched on
weather (already noted), what all our kids were doing, the Quinns’
perspective on the world, C-D stuff, pending retirements, news about Tim
& Judy, Kalli, the Teators’ trip next month, a Saratoga grandchild,
Thanksgiving plans, Christmas plans, a desperate need for an ATM in
Rhinebeck (more laughs than any other topic all night), looking for
colleges (Julie and Kerry made us with post-college children feel good),
the Teators’ new car, day trips, Catskill stuff (Deb K & Julie), and
more that has passed me by.