the same weekend i went to bull and buddha, i went to agriturismo. agriturismo is different than bull and buddha not only in the type of restaurant, but in its execution. where bull and buddha shoots very high and misses, agriturismo aims just a little bit lower - and hits the mark perfectly.
agriturismo is in the center of pine plains, and only open friday - sunday (sunday = brunch + dinner). the owner/chef (mark strausman) supervises fred's @barney's in nyc, though i didn't know that when i arrived; i went solo after going up to rodgers' book barn in hillsdale earlier in the day.
it's a small, understated restaurant with an open kitchen. the menu changes frequently - why? the chef fell in love with how good and close the local foods are. i don't know if the term farm-to-table applies since he's not running a farm, but it's pretty close.
the menu states "almost everything is locally grown and produced except for olive oil. fish/seafood are from montauk." that's good. it's amazing in its simplicity; there were maybe 6 entree dishes, a couple pastas, and 6 or so appetizers? i had one appetizer which was a salami? underneath a salad, with goat cheese and walnuts? i'm blanking a little bit, but all the flavors went together amazingly well. simple stuff, put together perfectly.
main course was local hen under a brick, which was several pieces of it cooked flawlessly. the funny part is almost all of the dishes listed "yukon gold (?) potatoes and vegetables", which turned out to be brussel sprouts. i'm not a fan, but i devoured all of them, they were cooked perfect. the reason i found it funny - when you're dealing with local foods, you have to make the same foods fit with many different dishes. here, the foods which were good and fresh were the potatoes and brussel sprouts.
i was stuffed after this, but listened to dessert options. ok, i'll have the cherry pie with ronnybrook vanilla ice cream. oh, the pie was so good, and i love ronnybrook ice cream. walked out stuffed and satisfied.
while i was there, i talked with two groups of people; the first said their food was great, the other one (when i first came in) told me that they had already been to the place several times (i think it had only been open 3 weeks?) and that every dish they had was outstanding. i can't think of a better recommendation than that. oh, wait, i can - the group of eight people who were there and had several different plates, and were oohing and aahing on their first bites.
what was served? meiller meats. herondale pork and lamb. the chicken (windfall?) and some kind of fish. cheeses from the area.
i'm cheating now by looking at their website (www.agriturismorestaurant.com) to see what's being offered, they've now added a rabbit dish and a meiller sucking pig. they had a meiller hamburger (not on, but i can't see how they wouldn't offer it every time), and i think most of the other appetizers weren't on the menu either.
i don't know how busy pine plains will be in the winter, but agriturismo gives a great reason to get over there. i know i'll be going back again soon. and i hope the pig is still on the menu!