Carolina House – April 2019 (dt)
7.38 – 8, 7.6, 7.5, 7.5, 7.4, 7, 7, 7

A 6:05 departure from the Notars had car #2 guessing Rhinebeck, then Chatham, and finally guessing it might be Kinderhook area and hoping it was the Carolina House. Sure enough.

The menu leaned a little Southern but had a wide enough spread for anyone to enjoy. Adding to the range this evening was the Especiales de Jueves (Thursday Specials – Mexican) with “Mexican-inspired entrees below served with rice and beans, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream.”

About fifteen minutes after seating and drink order taken, a loose-weave basket of soft rolls and corn bread arrived with two aluminum ramekins of softened butter. We moaned it was some of the best corn bread we have eaten – moist and just enough corn kernels.

Food orders were taken, with two appetizers shared for the table:

Both were worthy starts.

The drink order of the night was hijacked by the Especiales de Jueves drink special: Margaritas for $5 (on the rocks or straight up, with salt or sugar), with six of us going to the dark side while two desired beers. And a round of water accompanied.
            Later, a bottle of Domaine Montvac Cotes du Rhone serviced three and a half wine drinkers.

Entrées from the main menu (borrowing wording from website) snared two of us:
Mixed Shrimp, Steak, and Chicken Fajitas served with rice, beans, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole (Deb K)
Grilled Ahi Tuna with Pico de Gallo and guacamole served with Rice & beans (Ross)

And the enticing Especiales de Jueves lured six of us:

All entrées was judged very good to excellent. A strong Margarita did not hurt.

Sides consisted of a choice of dirty rice or potato (garlic smashed, French fries, or sweet potato fries), joined by chef’s choice of vegetable – string beans, this evening. For the Jueves menu, two sides could also include coleslaw or corn fritters. Although salads were available, none were included and none ordered, a rare instance for DP8.

As for dessert, Elise recited the short list of four items, none of them seemed urgent enough, and we had consumed our share already. As it was, six of us left with doggie bags.

Service by Elise was excellent. She was informative, personable, efficient, and patient. A light-hearted touch was common, starting with the restaurant running out of Margarita glasses. Water glasses arrived full, two in each hand, two trips, with a carafe of water appearing at the right time. Entrées came in three arm-filled trips.

Ambiance at Carolina House was a mix of flavors. One cannot help but be struck that we thought we had found ourselves forty years in the past. Lots of rustic wood, faux log cabin slabbing or four inch pine, comprised the booths, the seating, the walls, the ceiling, even the back of our banquette in a different room.
At the same time, it is kind of, well, …comforting.
            Upon entry, the bar area to the right first caught the eye, attractive and dimly wooden. The dining rooms went straight and then left, with the first room arrayed in four aisles of booths—two aisles of four seaters, and the middle two of two seaters with a divider between. We continued and turned to one of the back rooms—the cashier’s spot with coffee cups stacked on a side table, with a pair eating at one table and the other table our oval table of eight. We did not venture into the room further back.
            A white linened table lay waiting for us, with a 2’x2’ unfolded napkin placed diamond-wise, acting like a centerpiece, with salt and pepper shakers and a couple other holders. A five inch bread plate, accompanied by the silverware set of spoon, knife, and two forks. (OK, timeout: Mark’s peeve that any three pronged fork is not a fork but a trident.)
            Noise level was remarkably low, allowing conversations to be heard across the table although one time I looked there were four conversations going on. The table next to us probably wished they could not hear us. More later.

Time to pay the bill came. $87 per couple seemed a fair price, considering the range of orders. Most of the entrées were about $20 with a handful of exceptions (steak, mostly). And so off into the Kinderhook darkness we left for the 45 minute ride home.

We had convened at the Notar house only to figure car seating before departing. ‘Tis fun to guess where we might be going but we were flummoxed until we realized, making the turn to the Hudson School, and driving out of Hudson, that the Kinderhook-Valatie area was likely.

Conversations in my car and at the table led to one of our wilder nights. Kriss, you would have given up after four minutes. The presence of Lynda and Ross was entirely coincidental. We wondered what if… Ken had been present!
            Topic one, recycling all dinner long was Ross’ injury. Too much detail for this account but the short version: a tumble in a parking lot, trip to hospital, a bruised arm, a cut lip, and Lynda figuring out what happened. Ross’ band-aid on the upper lip led to suggestions how to paint it, Ross’ impersonations, irreverent connections, etc. All said, we were sympathetic for Ross’s incident and recovery. You, too, Lynda. And I cannot even do justice to how much we fed off this topic.
            Other topics of the evening: Lynda’s treatment, Chay’s recovery, Deb K’s cold-flu, Deb T’s back pain, (sounding like the sick ward, heh?), Sunday departure to Italy for the Teators, comments from Ross that chased the occupants of the other table away with comments about Henry (hoping they were done anyway), someone drinking the unfinished martini from that other table, ways of getting through Hudson, salvaging Chay’s golf balls from the woods, the enjoyment of spring, flowers, greening of lawn, the roundabout at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, Ross’s dental treatment, and gobs more that we laughed until our faces hurt.

The Monteverds return next month for a full contingent, and May 30 is the date.