Bluestone TavernMarch 2015 (dt)
6.60 – 7, 7, 7, 7, 6.8, 6.5, 6, 5.5

A rightward turn at Cairo’s McDonald’s suggested Saugerties, and we cheered as the Notars pulled left a few miles short of Saugerties into Bluestone Tavern, an establishment most of us have nonchalantly passed by many times.
          For a rare third consecutive time, the Notars (hosts and selectors) and the Quinns accompanied the Karneses and Teators on Daylight Savings Time eve.
          Blue Stone Tavern’s menu is classic mid-scale restaurant with a raft-full of favorites and a half-dozen specials. Ten appetizers, several soups, several sides, ten salads, two steaks, a dozen entrées, a range of burgers and sandwiches, and several desserts fill out a comfortable range of choices.
          Upon our seating, Rachel delivered two baskets of sliced Italian bread accompanied by wrapped pats of butter. Soon to follow came a bottle of SnapDragon 2013 Pinot Noir.

After some perusal, choices were:
Shrimp scamp skewers, a large bowl of pasta with at least a dozen shrimp in the classic buttery prep (Chay: very good, plenty of shrimp although skewers were missing)
Chicken Marsala (Joyce: excellent, especially the sauce that appeared to be made with real Marsala and not just gravy-glop)
Veal Marsala (Mark: fork-tender, tasty, excellent Marsala)
A special, the Fisherman’s Platter, with fried fish, shrimp and scallops (Kerry: ok, a bit more fried than he realized when ordering)
A special, the Pork Medallions, with a demi-glace sauce (Deb T: so-so for both meat and sauce)
Portobello mushroom, stuffed with roasted red peppers, spinach and garlic, served with linguini in marinara (Julie: excellent; Chay was eyeing the sauce for his plate!)
And from the sandwich menu, the fish taco plate with beer battered haddock, chipotle sauce, lettuce, cheese and pico de gallo (Don: a nice change of pace; Deb K: good but too full after the Notar splurge to really enjoy it)

Accompanying most of the entrées were mashed potatoes (mixed ratings) and sautéed zucchini (more mixed ratings).
          Preceding the entrées, and part of the price, was a house salad (eight inch scalloped plate with greens, tomato chunks, onion half-rings, carrot shreds, and a welcome half-handful of chickpeas.
          The two taco-eaters ordered the soups of the night: Deb K, the cream of spinach (very good) and Don, the cream of chicken and mushroom (average but still a nice starter).

Dessert’s siren call could entice only two.
Molten lava cake (can you guess? …I thought it good enough although the lava had semi-solidified)
Dark chocolate mousse (Julie thought it excellent)

The drink order was a bit lighter, sort of, than usual, with four drinkers of the red wine, complemented by three water-only drinkers, and one soda. (It was a short list of house wines, with $7 a glass, or $26 a bottle, probably a good arrangement for the house, and easy for the casual wine drinkers.)

Service by Rachel was excellent. She was friendly, approachable, and prompt, with frequent checks on water and needs. Near the finish, clearing Deb’s almost full plate, she politely inquired if the food was ok, asked sensitively and politely.

Ambiance was a pleasant mix of pub and mid-level restaurant. It is tough to judge a restaurant by its outside appearance when one arrives in the dark, with deep snow banks, and an almost soft dirt park lot.
          The first space is a conglomeration of bathroom, coat rack, waiting area. Straight ahead was a bright, TV-enhanced ten-stool bar, with two booths—a welcoming lair for cold nights. We turned rightward into a 20x30 room holding four booths and five tables. Two sets of folding double doors allowed peering into a twin room.
          Medium-brown wainscoting filled the bottom four feet of wall with the remaining four feet wallpapered in grape leaf and vine motif. The twin room used burgundy paint instead of wallpaper.
          Light came from the six recessed ceiling lights as well as the four sets of twin sconces—comfortably lit for atmosphere. And a couple windows peered into the darkness but would have shown High Falls Rd and Old State Route 32 if daylight had allowed.
          Three tables were combined, with Chay and Mark taking the ends. A dark cloth napkin held a knife and fork, with two tea votive candles set inside glass bulbs.
          Noise, at first, seemed problematic but either we accustomed to it or it was not as noisy as first thought. Conversations were reasonably audible, and then easily heard as the room thinned.

Dinner tab, with all included, came to a whopping $65 per couple, the second consecutive low cost event, with an interesting contrast in restaurant styles from the month before at Cask and Rasher.

We had started at the Notars, their second hosting, and DP8’s fourth ever hosting by our valued New DP8ers.
          Mark and Joyce had prepared a welcome start for the evening (although more than a couple of us realized too late that we had eaten more than an appetizer’s share! Ha).
          A bowl of nuts was the first welcome, but it was the next two that stole the limelight. A round of baked brie, warmed to a languid drip-flow, topped with honey and springs of rosemary, waited to be spread on the toasted bread pieces, and then topped with the maple-coated toasted walnuts. Oh my. And anyone not using a plate probably had to wipe cheese off the counter or floor.
          And Mark had made pretzel chunks, about an inch or more across, soft and chewy, awaiting the mustard dip.
          A variety of beer awaited the beer drinker or two, while a McGregor 2008 Cabernet Franc and a Ravines 2011 Chardonnay tempted the wine drinkers.

Although the four of us had met only two weeks previous, we had an evening full of talk and chat. Number one topic was the rare Karnes mid-winter trip to Florida. Their adventure was “enhanced” by aircraft mechanical problems, weather delays, finding a hotel room on one’s own, and other ancillary inconveniences.
          And the six weeks of brutal Arctic weather was drawing to a close, we were promised. Greater than usual fuel usage, five foot deep frost, dog-walking issues, staying comfortabl—all have been daily topics. Good bye, February; and, Spring, get your arse in gear!
          The Quinns and Teators had attended Pat Hoffman’s funeral, and the ensuing lunch get-together. We chuckled when the guest speaker (Chris H) told of his favorite teacher (of course, Kerry was sitting there to soak in the announcement of his name)!
          Other topics included: a smaller hot tub, the healing of the missing toe nail, HS baseball season, the Quinns’ dog-walking, the perils of raising HS and beyond kids, Conor’s teaching experiences, Daylight Savings Time, C-D stuff (thank you, Kerry, for reminding us retirees why we should not pine to return!), online curriculum uselessness again, skiing, the whereabouts of the Monteverds and Adamses, a possible Adams visit next month, Catskill HS doings, Joyce’s upcoming France trip (and Mark, too), our enjoyment of visiting a restaurant we keep meaning to try, ...), and more to make an evening pleasant and laugh-provoking.