in the past couple months, i've gone to a ton of poughkeepsie area places. some solo, some with friends. ambience means far less to me than quality of food. apologies if i over-use a word, or dont give quite enough details.
couple things i noticed:
> many places are now using more fancy nouveaux plates, that aren't the standard round ones, but square shaped or flat.
> virtually all the places below were much more affordable than i'd have guessed (high teens - low 20s on meals). the french places tended to be slightly pricier than the others, but the quality of food for the price was universally impressive. is that because of the cia influx? i don't know, but i'll take it.
> the places would mention when they were using local foods. good!
> i'd go back to all of these again except where noted.
now, on with the feedback!
french: la batisse (poughkeepsie). went once before, was unimpressed. went back with a couple friends, still remain unimpressed. there's nothing bad about it - just nothing that knocks my socks off and makes me say "wow!".
le pavillion (poughkeepsie). nice flavored foods; small filling portions, but that was fine. presentation was elegant (didn't matter to me, but i have to mention it),the lobster bisque was creamy and tasty (no chunks of seafood, but a more traditional recipe), rabbit was properlycooked, vegetables and sauce were tasty. (lepavillonrestaurant.com)
poughkeepsie: 96 main. voted best ahi tuna tacos in the area...i thought they were quite good, but not as good as umami's. the steak was good, but again, not great. i just realized why this comes off as slightly disappointing: the presentation for the dishes gives the impression that these will be super duper great. if you put them on a regular plate with nothing special, this commentary would sound better.
their speciality is supposed to be the homemade pizzas, which i'll have to try at some point. although they claim to have a website on their signs, that listed site doesn't exist. (parked by a domain stealer).
poughkeepsie: haymaker. yum! yum yum! i wrote down everything eaten and i can't remember, since it was almost the first place to go to. that won't help anyone...sorry. but the food exceeded my expectations. they have just switched over to a new summer menu, so checking out the website won't give an exact menu. i just remembered part of it; a steak with polenta, spinach, and muscat grapes. and some sauce that there's no way i'll remember. all flavors worked perfectly with each other. and carolyn (bennett's mom; bennett is the chef, he and his mom are co-owners) comes over to make sure everything's ok. neat! (thehaymaker.com)
poughkeepsie: maia. underwhelmed. nice presentation, but the food wasn't a knockout. wonton appetizer? took time to prepare, but didn't hit. and the salmon dish - well, just slightly better than made at home. it was adequate, but felt like a disappointment compared to the other places mentioned.
poughkeepsie: main st. i've gone back to los compadres and la cabanita a couple times, and both are real good for what they are (inexpensive mexican places with abuelita cooking in the kitchen). el gallito (693 main st) is a small shop whose speciality is chicken with peruvian? flavoring. they have a bunch of chickens cooking, turning in the rotisserie, when you walk in.
there's also a few caribbean places popping up; janet's jerk relocated, but there are new west indies type shops over near college park (roughly clinton and oakley) and one i think on bement and harrison?
hyde park - twist. i went for a lunch, and just had the burger and fries. don't get the salt on the fries; they already have a cayenne pepper on them! (i almost asked, and tried one first). angus burger was cooked perfect to my liking, and was large. i overheard people talking about the dinner menu being very good, and it is at least family tolerable, so that's good. (www.letstwist.com)
millbrook - la puerta azul. just got their liquor license a couple weeks ago, so some of the alcohol choices aren't available. empanaditas were small for the price, but tasty. the pork and grouper dishes both were hits, will definitely go back. also, although it's millbrook, it's about 1 mile east of the taconic on route 44. (la-puerta-azul.com)
rhinebeck - terrapin. just for lunch, i've been told dinner is much better. had the quesadilla with mango on top and (i think?) prosciutto and cheeses inside. flavorful, no complaints.
saugerties - new world home cooking. you can find what everyone else says about this place, i second the positive recos. the blackened string beans with remoulade sauce weren't as hot as i was led to believe, but definitely needed some water with them. a local steak was cooked perfectly, the veggies were yummy...and a good mojito as well! just too far away for me to go unless i have an excuse to be up there. (www.newworldhomecooking.com)
other stuff, some new and some old:
the inn at osborne hill (wappingers? fishkill?) is no longer and is now the brass monkey bistro.
swagat on route 9 has changed names, but is still indian (and also 'pakistani') food.
the hobnobbin pub (north) on route 9 is worse than the hobnobbin pub (corner of route 376).
does adams (poughkeepsie) get their fish from gadaleto's? i saw a large order behind their counter, with gadaleto's name written on it.
arby's new chicken sandwich is much tastier than a fast food chicken should be. i know it seems out of place here...
the rhinebeck farmers market on sundays looks far better than the similar ones in pleasant valley, poughkeepsie, and (unfortunately) most prominently, millbrook. it's all targetted to a much more upscale crowd than any of those places.
there were about 30 vendors there along with a musician. vendors included swoon kitchenbar (from hudson), quattro's meats (pleasant valley), the area's "top mozzarella and upscale foods", and all sorts of jellies, meats, oddball foods and more. not a ton of the fresh fruits and veggies, but it's unique enough that i'll go back.