Rabbit empanadas. Butternut squash panzanella. Sardines with garam brown butter. Vietnamese-inspired pork belly bah minh.
If you haven’t yet been, dinner at Another Fork in the Road on Route 199 in Milan is a round-the-world revelation — one of the best-kept foodie secrets in this part of northern Dutchess County.
You’ll never have the same exact dish twice.
“My dinner menu changes weekly. It’s inspired by what’s available seasonally and locally,” says chef-owner Jamie Parry, a French Culinary Institute alumnus, who has cooked at several notable Manhattan restaurants and at Swoon Kitchenbar in Hudson.
Chances are you’ve eaten in this ranch-style ramble of a building about a mile west of the Taconic State Parkway. Since the 1940s, it has housed various diners.
Bet you had breakfast or lunch.
That’s all the eatery served when Parry and then-owner Natalie DiBenedetto opened Another Fork three years ago. The pair, committed to sourcing dairy, meat and produce from local farmers and artisans, cooked familiar diner chow (scrambled eggs, pancakes, club sandwiches, burgers and fries), but using local foods clearly made a taste difference. Loyal customers packed the place every week.
Before moving to Maine in the spring of 2010, DiBenedetto sold the business to Parry, who has continued sourcing from area growers, like Ethel’s Farm Stand “down the road,” Richie and Jane Biezynski of Northwind Farms in Tivoli, and Kenny Migliorelli in Red Hook. He’s also kept A-list favorites, like gravy and biscuit ($11); poached egg with toasted polenta and garlic-braised escarole ($8.50); corned beef hash ($9); and the signature Fork burger ($10) on the breakfast and lunch menus. By end-year, however, Parry made one big change: opening Another Fork for dinner.
On the evening menu, Parry lets loose, taking creative liberties with “diner food,” drawing from what he describes as a melting-pot journey of food memories. “Right now, I’m on an Asian/Iberian kick,” he says.
On a recent wintery Saturday evening, my husband, Christopher, and I found ourselves at Another Fork. Airy and sunlight-filled during the day, the space transforms at nightfall. White linens and votive candles cover normally bare tables. After the sun goes down, the space also feels a tad chillier (temperature-wise).
We started with an amuse bouche of pastrami lardo crostini ($7). In one bite, I got fatty, salty, crunchy (the crostini) and spicy heat from the addition of Korean hot mustard oil. “Very tasty,” my husband acknowledged. Turns out, the pastrami lardo (pig back fat) is labor-intensive—slathered in a rub of black pepper, coriander and urfar biber (a Turkish chili-pepper spice), cured in-house for 30 days, then air-dried for several weeks.
Christopher was a big fan of the lamb meatballs ($9). Arriving in a cast iron skillet, the meatballs, garnished with mint and feta, sat prettily in a bubbling tomato sauce. Well-seasoned with a strong lamb flavor (just the way we like it), they were savory and comforting.
Next up: a beet salad ($8) and duck tacos ($12). I was instantly smitten with both. Paired with mache, crumbled goat cheese and arugula pesto, the beets had a deep earthy flavor and a mysteriously delicious crunch. What was it? “Savory granola,” the Fork’s house-made brown butter granola, spiced with fennel, chili flake, garam masala, cumin and curry. Delicious! Ditto for the duck tacos—shredded duck confit with a piquant mole (chile and chocolate sauce), topped with shavings of carrots and radishes—an addictive blend of flavors and textures: bittersweet, spicy, soft and crunchy.
While Littleneck clams and pork belly in chorizo and kimchi broth ($17) didn’t make it on our hit list, other entrees did.
Rabbit Bolognese ($19) can be a heavy dish. Not here. The sauce was perfectly cooked, with fork-tender rabbit and carrot, topped with fresh mint and ricotta. Paired with feather-light, house-made Tajarin egg pasta, the dish was delicate yet satisfying.
Christopher pronounced his hearty Atlantic skate chop ($20) as “rich and robust.” The meat of skate wing is typically stringy; in this case, the accompanying fingerling potatoes, Brussels sprouts and molasses butter provided a tasty textural counterpoint.
Until recently, the Fork was strictly BYOB; now, it offers a shortlist of wines-by-the-glass and local brews.
For dessert, puddings, like steamed apricot pudding with lemon ice cream, are popular. We opted for the chocolate pot de crème instead. Dusted with cocoa and dolloped with crème fraiche, it was creamy-smooth comfort that had us racing each other to the last bite.