Crabtree goes to market

With hot anticipation, Westchester awaited the opening of RiverMarket Bar & Kitchen in Tarrytown, John Crabtree’s hybrid, high-end eatery and farmers market that’s slated to be his second epicurean institution.

“The idea behind the RiverMarket was about marrying Hudson Valley products raised and grown organically, sustainably and humanely with Mediterranean-style cooking,” says Glenn Vogt, partner, general manager and wine director at RiverMarket as well as Crabtree’s Kittle House in Chappaqua. “We’re giving it a familiar or even a comfortable twist.”

It’s cool and classy. It’s organic and elegant. It’s polished and picnic-in-the-park. It’s John Crabtree and Mason jars.

“It’s about doing something that’s special, that’s being more than just a restaurant,” Vogt says.

Nestled within the luxurious Hudson Harbor and a stone’s throw from the freshly-paved RiverWalk, RiverMarket is igniting an area once landmarked by the Tarrytown train station into a riverfront destination. Positioning itself as the voice of Hudson Valley bounty, it’s the perfect spot to pick up a loaf of pastry chef Caryn Stabisky’s fresh-baked bread with a jar of Wright’s Farm jam to enjoy on a stroll near the Tappan Zee.

“You can come in and have a small meal that’s healthy and nourishing, or you could make it a long, multiple-course meal,” says executive chef John Holzwarth, who previously propelled the Boathouse at Saugatuck in Westport to culinary acclaim.

Though RiverMarket has a Crabtree imprimatur that’s enough to lure dignitaries – the Clintons (Bill and Hill, of course) inaugurated the eatery with a visit during the first Saturday night of full service – RiverMarket has a persona all its own.

Take its contemporary reclaimed chic architecture. Maple flooring came from a 200-year-old factory upstate. Local mushroom wood adds interest to the ceiling. Cedar from a farm in Pennsylvania lines the wraparound terrace. Antique apple crates hold bottles in the wine store. Room separators are antique doors from Belgium with original glass and hardware. Tables feature oak, cedar, birch, maple and cherry. The bar is black maple with inlaid copper butterflies to match their rare and striking all-copper beer tap.

“Everything has a story,” says Vogt, who worked with Connecticut designer Christian P. Arkay-Leliever on the RiverMarket’s look. “We believe very strongly in the local, sustainable, natural movement and food, and we felt that the design should reflect that.”

Each thoughtful detail establishes a look and feel of eco-friendly luxury.

And yet…

“I tell people it’s super-casual,” Vogt says over Buddy Holly piped through speakers.

Like his servers, he sports a slate-blue T-shirt reading “Naturally Raised” and Chuck Taylors. Patrons enter into RiverMarket’s daily farmers market where wood crates filled with squash and root vegetables rest on wine barrels. Fresh-cut wildflowers in low-maintenance Mason jars speckle the shop as well as beautify the dining tables. Flat-screen TVs line the bar for sports fans.

“That’s sort of the way it should be,” says Holzwarth. “No pretense, no pomp.”

Though the vibe is laid-back, attitudes about food are anything but relaxed.

“Always raising the bar is what our goal is,” says Holzwarth. “It’s being committed to the healthy, clean cuisine that one can eat regularly; and I can be proud of and a cook can be proud to serve and servers can be proud to sell. That’s the big picture.”

In addition to the chef’s daily specials that rotate based on market availability, fans of the Boathouse can find some familiar favorites like Montauk lobster salad heaped with market-fresh meat. A master with pastas who rolls them fresh daily, Holzwarth also kept the delicate and delectable ravioli “Lidia’s Way” – now filled with heirloom apple – plus another favorite of the house, spicy lobster linguini neri. Vogt says its padrone peppers work beautifully with their 2012 Red Tail Ridge Estate Riesling on tap, a renowned selection from the Finger Lakes that not so coincidentally comes from the first LEED gold certified green winery in the state. If you prefer a rich red, he suggests one of their biodynamic selections, Teroldego from Trentino’s Elisabetta Foradori.

An abundance of food and wine knowledge – and the enthusiasm to share it – optimizes the RiverMarket dining experience, one that Holzwarth says is best enjoyed as a progression.

“You really want to try our raw or roasted oysters and one of our small artisanal salads along with your main course,” he recommends. “Or you can exchange a pizza for a pasta.”

At the mention of pizza, Vogt adds: “We have this crazy dream of Hudson Valley duck pizza with duck confit and duck foie gras and a big duck egg right in the middle.”

The chef employs a “know thy farmer” philosophy to ensure RiverMarket offers the Hudson Valley’s best, like grass-fed beef from Amish farmers upstate (sealed with an affidavit of quality) to pouches of creamy burrata from Maplebrook Farm and produce from Blooming Hill Farm.

“We even had a beer together and made pizza together,” says Holzwarth of his visit to Blooming Hill.

His delicious due diligence doesn’t only serve the kitchen well, but the market. Along with MaryAnne Vogt – market manager and Vogt’s friendly wife, who encourages suggestions for stock – they’re tasked with expanding the market to impressive proportions.

“Ultimately, what we look to see the market become is an extension of the dining room,” says Vogt. “… Everything that is on the menu will also be available in the market to go.“

So pasture-raised eggs from Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard in North Salem that the chef may use in his brunch skillet frittata can also be purchased to take home. The same would go for sirloin steak or fish fillets.

Their sky’s-the-limit vision sees RiverMarket as a hub of Hudson Valley fare luring city-dwellers and tourists with the promise of a destination food and wine experience that will get them back to Manhattan in time for theater tickets.

“Yes,” says Vogt. “We have big plans for RiverMarket.”

RiverMarket Bar & Kitchen is located at 127 W. Main St. in Tarrytown. For more, call (914) 631-3100 or visit rivermarketbarandkitchen.com.

 

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