Hoffman House – June 2004 (dt)
7.28 – 7.5, 7.5, 7.5, 7.25, 7.25, 7.2, 7, 7

There was something familiar—the stone house, wide boards, irregular rooms—bespeaking history as few other restaurants can do. Indeed, a dig into the archives confirmed that DP8 first visited Hoffman House in Kingston’s Stockade in May 2006. (dteator.com/restaurants/zHoffman)
          And again, the menu, although relatively compact, offered an inviting breadth of American cuisine: a dozen appetizers, mostly soup and seafood; several seafood entrées; a half-dozen pasta plates, half of which contained seafood; and a dozen and a half “on the land” entrées.
          Salads came with dinner so that stanched the temptation to sample the appetizer list, with regrets.

Entrées included:
==> Grilled boneless leg of lamb, marinated in rosemary & garlic, thinly sliced and topped with garlic butter, served with mint jelly (Lynda)
==> half duck, crisp-roasted & served with chef’s sauce du jour (Ross)
==> New York sirloin steak, charcoal grilled, topped with a choice of: sautéed mushrooms & onions or bleu cheese & roasted shallots (Kriss: well-done, Ken: medium-well)
==> Seafood Cioppino: shrimp, clams, mussels & crabmeat sautéed in a lightly spiced red sauce over linguini (Chay)
==> Rigatoni Rossello: sautéed chicken, shrimp & andouille sausage in a spicy roasted garlic chipotle cream sauce (Deb K)
==> Sea scallops Marsala, sautéed mushroom sauce served with butternut squash mashed potatoes (a replacement for the usual angel hair pasta) (Deb T)
==> Tuna, with a ginger-lemon-soy sauce, with a rare center, an evening’s special (Don)
         Most came with a choice: one of several types of potato or rice or butternut squash mashed potatoes (a favorite of a few this evening).
         The vegetable of the evening came served family style—steamed asparagus drizzled with a cream sauce.
          I’ll save the reader from the repetition of comments: very good to excellent preparations, interesting and deft blend of flavors and sauces, artfully cooked. No exceptions, just a tableful of satisfied diners.

The salad course consisted of an eight inch plate of mixed greens, a dozen chunks of tomatoes, a few shreds of carrot, and pieces of croutons; several choices of dressings were allowed. We agreed it was a good enough basic salad.

The dessert list was a diverse mix of six to eight items that might exclude some people but not this group.
==> Creamy moist dense chocolate cake (Ross & Don: rich and moist and fudgy that bordered on chocolate overdose; Lynda shared)
Caramel flan (Deb T: a licked plate is proof; Lynda shared)
Chocolate ice cream, and a dollop of cream (and mint) (Kriss: as excellent as chocolate ice cream gets)
Frozen lemonade pie (Chay & Deb shared: a special that sounded interesting; excellent, light-bodied)
Apple crisp, with ice cream, sprig of mint (Ken: too mushy for his liking)

Service by Jocelyn was excellent. She worked to please any request, informational, promptly done, with eagerness and humor. A second server, Lorraine, filled in-between and proved equally adept. Ken’s coffee cup was constantly filled, and Jocelyn agreed with Ken that he was a “pain in the butt.” After the initial filling of water glasses, several quart bottles of iced water were replenished. Food was delivered to the eight of us by multiple servers. The only slip was the delivery of salads by a different server who did not know who ordered what but “who ordered this?” was turned into a humorous repartee. All were personable without being intrusive, and certainly served Hoffman House well this evening. Thank you to both, especially Jocelyn.

Ambience is historic-colonial. Entry in the back door (front, if you are in the parking lot, which we were), steered us past one period-piece room, through the bar-tavern part with the several seat bar with the old pull-down cage (a feature rarely seen), and to the center hall that afforded a glance into the front two rooms. We turned right into a hardwood-floor room with about eight faux-colonial tables. Several ceiling beams support a wide plank second floor, with some of the boards a foot and a half wide. The two 12-over-12 windows fronted a foot-deep window well. Add creamy pastel mortared walls anchored by a classic fireplace and one began to imagine it could be 1780 in Kingston.
          Suffused lighting, liking a westward tilt toward the end of a long summer day, filtered through the curtain-draped windows. A heavy-iron spider chandelier with a dozen lights became more prominent as dusk ensued.
          The table was set with a bread plate, a four piece silverware combo, a marbled-glass candle holder, and a yellow-cream pinched napkin perched on the plate.
          Two bread baskets soon arrived with choices of slices of Tuscan bread, walnut-fruit bread, flat & crispy wafers, and sesame bread sticks, with a choice of regular and strawberry butter—definitely a superior choice than most other establishments we have visited.

The drink order consisted of a bottle of a Chateau St Jean 2012 Pinot Noir and a Castello di Gabbiano 2011 Chianti Classico, supplemented by Tanqueray & tonic (Kriss!).
          The final bill came to $100 per couple, part of which was the 20% tip (tables of six or more) added in by the restaurant, not one of our favorite practices (although we understand).

All in all, if the intervening eight years was as good as the two visits we have made, Hoffman House has kept many a happy customer. (A half-point separating our ratings is a rare event!)

Other notes: Chay’s recent entrée choices seem more adventuresome (my observation); Ken was called a pain in the butt by one of our servers, a badge of honor for Ken; the Thruway between Catskill and Kingston was uneventful although Deb K departed at Saugerties on the way back; and Don took an extra lap around the CVS building near Hoffman before making the correct left hand turn (my apologies for the extra gas consumption); and, thanks, Lynda and Ross complementing DP8 this early summer evening.

The evening started at the Teators’, with the weather sunny and very warm but not warm enough to keep us from deck-lounging and enjoying the summer air, Deb’s gardens, and the view of the Catskills Escarpment.
          Bowls of spicy hummus, salsa, bean & corn salsa, tuna salad, joined by wheat crackers and blue chips add to a cheese plate, roasted walnuts, and Goldfish.
          A bucket of beer, a Ravenswood Zin, and a tangy Portuguese white slaked the thirsts.
          DP8 made its retirement presentation to Chay—gift cards to Beer World and Lazy Swan, and Chay thanked the six of us (the Adamses in the Northwest Corner). Seven down, one to go! And Ross, I think, offered to paint a portrait of a Karnes pet.

Topics on the deck, the ride to, during dinner and/or the ride back was as diverse as ever. Ken being a “butt” was a humorous side note, the new Monteverd car still in waiting, the nice view from the Teator deck, Chay suffering his second day of retirement, Deb suffering from Chay’s second day of retirement, next year’s end-of-year retirement party, this year’s end-of-year party, past administrators who did not show at the retirement party, life at the East Conesville lake and second home, grandparents protecting a youngster around a lake, a Cooperstown trip, a visit to the Beekman Arms, World Cup reactions, DP8 dates for July and August, Kriss’ relaxing schedule of breakneck activity every day of the week, Deb’s Lyme and mosquito bite, others’ Lyme, conflicting medications, the Adamses’ whereabouts, sightings of Don on a bike, the Monteverd boys on a bicycle fund-raiser on the Cape, weaseling clues from the Teators about the evening’s destination, trying to remember Hoffman after we arrived, the Retired Teachers meeting at the Mullers and the new prescription co-pays, the new Mitsubishi AC/heat pump at the Teators, signs of decline of older friends and relatives, Ken getting the early (and only) finger of the evening, wildlife around our houses, and more present a semi-complete portrait.