If summer must end, and end it must, I like to make the transition a tad easier. How, you ask? Road trip!
There is something quite cozy about a road trip in the fall. Rev up the convertible; pick a spot on the map, and go! The still-warm sun on your face, a gentle wind in your hair, and the promise of a beautiful day. We like to head up the Garden State Parkway to Irvington, New York (just over the Tappan Zee Bridge). If you time it right, the leaves will be starting to change, the air will have just a hint of crisp to it, and you’ll score a table outdoors at Red Hat on the River.
We discovered Red Hat this summer when I was searching for an outdoor dinner spot. I put a challenge out to my Facebook friends with the following criteria: outdoor dining, great food, within an hour of home base. Extra points were given for “on the water” venues. In my book, nothing beats waterfront/waterview dining. One friend suggested Red Hat and, after doing some preliminary research, off we went!
Nestled on the banks of the mighty Hudson River, Red Hat is situated in a beautifully renovated industrial space. And what a gorgeous space it is. Soaring floor-to-ceiling windows provide a front-row view to the patio and the river.
The menu can be described as French bistro, meaning you can get anything from a burger to handmade ricotta ravioli. Our group shared the Arugula and Jersey Peach Salad, made all the better with dried cherries, roasted pepita (pumpkin) seeds, applewood bacon, local apple, goat cheese, and apple cider vinaigrette. We also enjoyed the Crispy Peekytoe Crabcake, something I never pass up since having it many years ago on the Maine coast. Red Hat’s version is served with a wasabi and lime remoulade sauce, and Napa cabbage slaw.
Our entrees ranged from a juicy Grilled Double Cut Berkshire Pork Chop, to perfect Steak Frites, to Moules Frites steamed with garlic, white wine, and shallots. Quintessential bistro fare very well done.
TIPS FOR YOUR FALL ROAD TRIP:
Check the long-range weather forecast – sunshine and 60-70 degrees, is optimal. You shouldn’t have to think about anything heavier than a light jacket or sweater.
Make a reservation! Trust me, you will not be the only one with this idea on a gorgeous fall day. On one of our subsequent trips, there was a two-hour wait, inside and out. Red Hat does not take reservations for the outdoor tables. It’s first-come, first-served. There is a lovely, although small, rooftop bar to pass the time (the Melon Mojito was deluxe!). If there are no seats, head to the indoor bar on the first floor.
Make a day of it. The area is full of beautiful historical sites. Visit Sunnyside, Washington Irving’s home (author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle) in Tarrytown. I bet they’ve got some great Halloween activities planned… Or how about Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate? This estate was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family, beginning with John D., founder of Standard Oil. In his day, he was the richest man in America. The site is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The tour covers their exceptional collection of 20th century sculpture, a collection of Picasso tapestries, and a priceless collection of classic automobiles and horse-drawn carriages. Visit http://www.hudsonvalley.org for all the details on these sites, plus many others.
If you get shut out of Red Hat, there are a number of other restaurants on Main Street, a short drive from the waterfront. You can get more information here (http://www.irvingtonny. gov/) on Irvington.
Red Hat on the River
One Bridge Street
Irvington-on-Hudson, NY 10533
Open for lunch Monday-Friday.
Dinner served Monday-Sunday.
Sunday brunch returns in the fall (call for details).
Photo credits: The Cook's Tour and Red Hat on the River