In the Delta Blues – think Robert Johnson – and in a number of ancient cultures, a crossroads can be an ominous, problematic or even evil spot. But the CrossRoads Food Shop in Hillsdale, a farm-to-table restaurant located right before (not on) the actual crossroad of Routes 22 and 23 in the hamlet, is the exact opposite: an inviting, attractive space offering stellar local fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Kathryn and I had heard good things about CrossRoads, which opened in January as the first solo venture of chef David Wurth (previously chef at Local 111, in Philmont). So, on a recent Saturday night, we crossed county lines and headed northeast to Hillsdale, in Columbia County.
Whether going to or from the Berkshires, or seeking a great meal within reasonable driving distance of Red Hook/Rhinebeck, CrossRoads is well worth a visit.
The setting is elegant: muted lighting, sage green walls with white wainscoting, blond wood tables, chocolate brown and olive banquets and tasteful floral arrangements. Most striking is a large wall map of Hillsdale (circa 1950’s) framing a communal table. It’s a cool, but not cold, design – very Zen-meets-New England – and a nice contrast to the semi-open and energetic kitchen.
The dinner menu changes weekly, reflecting what’s available locally, but within a fairly regular framework. For example, there is always a soup and several salads, a few pasta options, local chicken and pork dishes, a fish entrée, a vegetarian platter, a hamburger and seasonally inspired sides – seasonal variations on a consistent line-up.
We each started with a composed salad.
Kathryn began with the Hillsdale spinach salad ($7): raw, local baby spinach over braised Brussels sprouts, quinoa and finely crumbled goat cheese, dressed with herb vinaigrette. Deeply satisfying, it was both earthy and bright, with great interplay between the sharp goat cheese, the soft (but not mushy) Brussels sprouts and the subtle notes of dill and herbs in the dressing. My sweet pea shoots salad ($7), from Little Seed Farm in Chatham, was another delectable mélange: tender shoots atop roasted cauliflower, toasted sunflower seeds and shaved Parmesan, married by a lemony vinaigrette.
We also shared the tasty (and copious) “chick pea and ramp pesto toast” ($4) – multigrain sourdough toast (from Our Daily Bread bakery in Chatham) with a generous smear of chickpea puree and vibrant green ramp pesto.
Off to a delicious start. Kathryn wondered aloud if Wurth had ever spent time cooking in Northern California. Turns out, she wasn’t far off the mark. Even though he’s a Nebraska native who’s never cooked on the West Coast, he worked in Manhattan at Savoy restaurant in Soho with Peter Hoffman, a chef known for using local and sustainable ingredients long before it was cool. He’s also a big fan of Alice Waters and her Chez Panisse cookbooks, the epitome of fresh, local Northern California-inspired cuisine. His cooking reflects a confident hand with superior ingredients and layered flavors. Alice would approve.
For the main course, I ordered the pork chop ($25), paired with semolina gnocchi, ramps and caper salsa. Both the pork and chicken dishes are procured locally – or at least from within New York State. My chop, cooked to medium rare, pink perfection, had pleasing porcine flavor, nicely complemented by the tangy caper salsa on top, and the garlicky sweet ramps beneath.
The seafood is not local…but still worth ordering. Kathryn’s roasted tile fish ($26; from North Carolina) was firm yet tender, with a distinct Mediterranean touch, arriving on bulghur wheat, sweet peppers and sliced almonds, and topped with a Provencal-style anchoiade paste (fresh anchovies, white wine vinegar and garlic). Delicious.
CrossRoads also has a well-edited wine and beer list, featuring 21 wines (13 by-the-glass) and seven brews, including some local and regional options, like Blue Point and Original Sin. One quibble here: given the intense local focus on the food side, it would have been nice to see a couple more New York State or Hudson Valley wineries represented on the list (beyond a sole dessert wine from Hudson-Chatham Winery).
There’s always room for dessert. In this case, we shared the olive oil cake, topped with chocolate ganache and served with crème fraiche. Yet another winner, and a nice finale.
As Kathryn aptly described it, our dining experience at CrossRoads was “very yin” – relaxed and comfortable – and the deceptively simple-yet-sophisticated food jibes seamlessly with the cool vibe and aesthetics of the space.
By all means, do go down to CrossRoads.
CrossRoads Food Shop
2642 Route 23
Breakfast: Wed. – Sun. 9-2:30pm
Lunch: Wed. – Sun. 12-2:30pm
Dinner: Fri. – Sat 5:30 9:30pm; Sun. 5 – 9pm