Vanderbilt House
6.56 – 7, 7, 6.75, 6.5, 6.5, 6.5, 6.2, 6

An Adamses’ pick it was this Memorial Saturday, and to Columbia County we traveled but this time it was beyond, way beyond, Hudson, all the way to Philmont’s Vanderbilt House on a late-March-ish day, with a light rain that had nagged all day.
          A first impression upon entering is eye-candy – a Victorian house/hotel, with the inviting front parlor on the right before ambling along the center hall into the dining areas. The main room’s six bays of windowed doors overlook the deck and Summit Lake, allowing every extra ounce of this day’s dimmed light to flood in.
           Dark colonial-red fills the walls above the beige-sand wainscoting, with white trim separating the two while also edging the floor trim board. A gray-painted tin roof completes a classic room.
          A 30’x 40’ room holds a dozen tables, with a 20’ x 15’ alcove discreetly adjoined; a set of sliding doors introduces an even larger adjoining room on the west side, holding  more dining space, a service counter, and an inviting bar that begs for a second visit.

A round table set with white linen, surrounded by Windsor chairs, accompanied a candle encased in a round bowl candle, salt & pepper shaker, bread plates, and a three-piece silverware set awaited.
          A service chest broke the flow of one wall, while a china closet did the same for the opposite wall. A high shelf of light color plates, serving bowls and tureens attractively contrasted with the red walls on those two sides, while several photographs created another row just underneath these shelves. Four-paddle globe fans provided comfortably dim light in combination with the recessed lighting. It all sets the mood of anticipation.
          The menu is a combination of classic comfort food mixed with modern American, with a soup, eight appetizers, four salads, half-dozen entrées, another half-dozen burger and lighter pub style entrées, and almost a half-dozen desserts. Everyone found something to their liking but the menu begged for one more item, none of us deciding what it should be. (Even the steak people went other ways.)
          We started with an appetizer special—the pull-apart bread, a white bread heavily seasoned with pesto and cheese, heavily buttered, sliced both directions so the diner could pull apart a columnar chunk of bread. We all liked the monkey-bread feel to it. A good start.

          We must have been assessing what our eyes were wanting but our future bellies could hold because the a la carte salad course was gingerly decided:
Asian strawberry, avocado and cucumber salad with cilantro, sesame oil, lime juice, sesame seeds, sea salt and Serrano chilies (shared: Deb T: good, different, less tasty than expected, and Judy [yes, Judy, sharing]: fresh and delicious)
Summit Wedge salad with the obligatory iceberg with bacon bits, chopped egg, tomato, crumbled bleu, & creamy blue cheese, with a bit of artistry of vegetable decorations (shared between Chay and Deb K: a worthy salad)
the non-advertised house salad, with greens, tomatoes, etc. (Ken asked for and got; a good-average salad that fit the spot)
==> Both splits came with separate plates from the kitchen, thoughtfully done, and appreciated.

          Most of us were indecisive about entrée choices but finally selected:
==> grilled pork loin (two or three medallions), a generous scoop of mashed sweet potatoes, accompanied by a fruit-medley champagne cranberry sauce (Deb T: average to good meat, wonderful sweet potatoes; Tim: dry and not much meat, very good potatoes)
lemon jumbo shrimp, on fresh fettuccine, with baby spinach, garlic, butter and white wine (Deb K: perfect al dente pasta, good shrimp, a good preparation; Judy: average, tasty but not special )
salmon burger, with basil, mint, parsley, shallots, chives, sriracha, lemon juice & panko crumbs, grilled and served w/lemon aioli and sweet potato fries (Don: very dense burger, almost beef-like, which was ok but expecting something flakier; a good try but so-so)
English-style fish & chips—Chatham Brewery battered haddock with fries, house-made tartar, coleslaw (Ken: the steak person thought it ok-good)
fried chicken—honey dipped, with cheddar-apple mac & cheese, and house salad (Kriss: thought it very good and took most of it home)
shrimp & steak on a stick—kabob of the two meats served on an iceberg wedge (Chay: mostly good although beef was medium-rare, a no-no for the usually well-done preference; a second dose of wedge salad)

          Desserts, of course, beckoned. There is no printed list, so we listened to Tara announce our choices:
==> chocolate fudge brownie pie, with a small scoop of ice cream and stream of chocolate sauce (Don: not quite brownie, not quite fudge, a tad dry and pie crust made little difference, average chocolate dessert; Tim [wtf!] thought it good; Ken [wtf!] good, also; Kriss: good chocolate) (Tim & Ken almost never consume chocolate!)
==> lemon curd filled  puff pastry with fresh cream (Chay & Deb share: very good, with more cream than lemon)
==> blueberry-filled dough shell (Judy: felt like blueberry filling, a little doughy; Deb T: same comment)
==> black Sambuca – Chay, of course

           Service by Tara was efficient, personable, attentive, helpful—several comments of excellent. Thanks, Tara.
          The drink request felt a little rushed; we like to see a wine list to pair with the menu, so we first-timers felt hurried, but regulars might be fine with early request. And, the first four entrées came in close proximity, with a gap in the next two, and somewhat longer for the finish. Later, we watched as the entrées for a nearby table of seven were served by two waiters within twenty seconds – a worthy standard. Mostly, though, service stood Vanderbilt in good stead.
          Water glasses were filled regularly—one of our idiosyncratic likes. Ken’s coffee was filled regularly. And the pacing was a quick-average but certainly within DP8’s comfort zone (and I think some of us like a quick-average pace, no matter how much we profess to enjoy a leisurely meal). We were finished at the two hour mark but lingered another half-hour with small talk, and we never felt rushed to go.
          Just after we sat down, owner, Bob Mansfield, was circulating, soon after sitting, inquiring about our welfare. When we asked who he was, he launched into a well-told history of the building and of his family—a very engaging, pleasurable touch not often seen.
          Drink orders included a glass of white, two sodas, and a bottle each of Vientos del Sur 2012 Malbec and D. Bosler 2010 Pinot Noir for the five red drinkers. Price markups seemed low to reasonable.
          Food, drink, tax, and tip came to $92 per couple, a reasonable value, most of us thought, and less than we were expecting. A review of the menu showed the regular entrées in the low-mid twenties; a few of us ordered from the lighter side, the mid-teens a common number. (Still, a couple could order two lighter sides and no salad and feel differently about value, and that comment re-surfaces, especially when a menu sports two tracks of prices.)
          Beautiful interior, good food, good service, good value marked this evening.

And knowing the ride home starts just before Hudson makes it feel somewhat shorter. The one note of adventure was a sobriety NYS Police check point on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge; Tim and Deb K passed with flying colors (or, they had pull!).
          And, yes, there is the matter of erratic routing by Tim Adams by heading west and north before turning east. Demands for a gas surcharge and an extra drink were expressed. Rule #8 was bandied about for a minute before dropping! ha.

We had started at 5:30 at Cairo Junction Road. Judy had prepared bowls of pretzel chunks and peanuts; a basket of crackers and chips; a plate of broccoli, radishes and carrots; and an accompany bowl of hummus. Finishing off the hors d’oeuvres was a plate of just-out-of-the-oven stuffed mushrooms.
          Tim was dispensing Mionetto prosecco, Cubo 2012 La Mancha Tempranillo, and Kriss’ mini-bottle of white zin.
          Don had prepared Volume 6 of DP8 events from November 2009, catching us up again.
          Six weeks passage meant gobs of stuff to catch up on, and we took time at pre-session, in the car to and fro, and at Vanderbilt. Topics included: weather (snow last night in the mountains!), the delayed yard sale, ..., a visit to DC for two weeks, Monteverd house #2, possibility of Adams house #2, sale of Adams house #1, hot flashes, Chay’s 25th Sectional anniversary, mowing grass, ..., lawn mower repair, Nathan’s docks, enough rain for now, someone not keeping secrets, the local housing market, coming DP8 dates (June 15, July 6, Aug 24), scrambling for DP8 dates, Brian’s bicycling Worcester to Chicago, grandkid, grandkid, grandkid, ..., RV trips, Cayman, Newport, winter plans (yes, already), pizza and ice cream in Freehold, C-D school stuff, macular degeneration, A-fib, other medical issues, and at least two risqué comments that I cannot remember.