Wednesday, June 15, 2016

FOOD BIZ | Rhinebeck, The Local Restaurant (Update June 16, 2016)

Seven locavori at The Local Restaurant in Rhinebeck, N.Y. Clockwise from left: Maureen
Kline, Amy Lehr, Brent Wilton, Ariel Meyerstein, Alice Tepper Marlin, Robert Stumberg,
John Tepper Marlin. Photo by waitstaff of The Local.
June 15, 2016–I am attending a conference at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Last night I was part of a fun evening of conference participants at dinner in Rhinebeck (pop. 2,657 in 2010) at The Local Restaurant on Market Street (phone 845-876-2214).

The Local is rated 4-4.2 out of 5 on Yelp and Google, and has a $$$ out of $$$$ designation on Google, although the price range in food options is wide. (Higher prices, however, dominate the wine list.)

The restaurant is a big winner in both the food and wine categories:
  • Winner in 2015 of Best Chef America.
  • Winner of Vogue Magazine's Virginia Smith's Best Chef, putting Chef Dier among the top 1 percent in America. Luckily, Occupy America has not yet taken over this particular 1 percent–after a brief wait we had a comfortable space for seven people on the second floor.
  • Winner of 2015 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for having one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world.
Vino Panache

This locally provenanced and ambitious restaurant offers some hallucinogenic wine pairings.

For example, the strawberries harvested from local farms during the past few days are presented as an interesting $10 "Local Strawberry Trio" along with a suggested wine pairing: a 1908 D'Oliveira Boal Madeira for $75.

That 7.5 to 1 wine-to-food-cost ratio jumped up off the page and glommed on to the fur on my eyeballs. 

But why stop at 7.5? How about some out-of-the-ratio-box thinking here?

Let's take a 2005 Château Pétrus from Pomerol, which could reasonably be priced at $3,950 per bottle; after all, in some years Château Pétrus bottles have sold for $30,000. What entrée could Chef Dier pair with such a bottle, which he could procure on auction for a little over $2,000 for a decent profit?

An up-market Merlot from the legendary Bordeaux vineyard, the Pétrus could be paired with duck or other fowl, or a beef dish–but not a fish or a vegetarian meal.

How about pairing the $4K wine with an appropriately garnished $20 hamburger? That would get the wine-to-food ratio up to 200 and perhaps merit a Guinness Book of Records listing. Or if the competition turns out to be stronger than I think, cut the burger price to $1, offering the burger only in combination with the wine, for a 4,000-to-one ratio and true vino panache.

Update June 16, 2016: The second evening we went with a different group, the GG-7, to Gigi Trattoria.