Farm-to-table. Local. Small-batch. Seasonal. There’s a glut of gastronomic buzzwords restaurants like to throw around these days, and frankly we’ve become a little jaded to it all. What good is promising grass-fed beef from Jersey cows or heirloom tomatoes grown organically on a rooftop in Ronkonkoma when by the time it gets to your plate, it’s been overcooked, overthought, or—worst of all—unrecognizable as ingredients that have been raised with care.
Now comes a new entry in the field, Communal Kitchen, chef Jed Gidaly’s new Nyack “gathering place,” which promises seasonally inspired dishes featuring local and organic produce grown in the Hudson Valley. Would this be any different, we wondered? Well, to our surprise, our inner groan turned to glee after stopping by for dinner last week.
First off, from the minute we walked in, we loved the place. The atmosphere is great, warm, and friendly, and the bar is gorgeous. Sitting down, our enthusiastic waiter presented us with a cocktail menu featuring CK’s signature “hand-crafted” elixirs (all $13). With non-descript names like “Charlotte Haze” or “Barrel Aged Cocktail,” ordering one felt somewhat mysterious.
On the suggestion of our server, I tried an “Outra Vez,” a tequila/mezcal/sorel/dry curacao/crème de cocao concoction. I was a bit concerned about the spice factor, but he calmed my nerves by allowing me to taste the “hellfire bitters.” We also ordered the H.M.S Beagle, a smoked-rye-and-blueberry-shrub mix, which was fantastic! Imagine an old-school whiskey sour upgraded with a zingy, herbal twist. A delicious kick-off to the evening.
On to the apps! We ordered up a Butcher Platter ($16-$28), which can be customized with up to seven charcuteries or artisanal cheeses delivered on a rustic slate board and accompanied with homemade jam and pickles. We choose Hudson Flower (sheep’s milk cheese), Tête de Moine (raw cow’s milk cheese), and Berkshire Prosciutto. Communal Kitchen also offers a nice selection of Small Plates,” which is similar to tapas and were fun to share. We sampled the Roasted Rainbow Carrots ($14) served over a whipped-feta-and-local honey base. They were like candy. Next up was a plate of crispy, crunchy Fried Cauliflower ($10), which arrived over a yogurt-tahini and pomegranate-molasses base.
The “Large Plates” are similarly fun—twists on classic comfort food. The Mac ‘n Cheese ($18) surprised with its barbecue potato chip crust, and the hearty chunks of shrimp and chorizo elevated the dish to another level of awesomeness. The Lamb Ribs ($24), served with roasted Japanese eggplant and a root-beer glaze, was also a standout.
For dessert, we dived in to the Warm Berry Cobbler ($8) and found ourselves fighting over who’d get the last bite of its snicker-doodle-and-cookie crust—a marvelous little pot of heaven, with fresh warm berries melding with quality vanilla ice cream.
Chef Gidaly says he just wanted to open a restaurant “that takes things not too seriously and was just like being in a friends kitchen on a Tuesday night.”
Don’t worry, chef, if Communal Kitchen keeps it up, you’ll definitely have a permanent place at our table.
162 Main Street, Nyack
Dinner: Tues – Thurs, 5PM - 10PM; Fri & Sat, 5PM - 11PM; Sunday, 5PM - 9PM; closed Monday
Brunch: Saturday & Sunday (Coming Soon)