The restaurant scene in Uptown is hopping, with two new places opening in the past month: Boitson’s, an American bistro, at 47 North Front St., and the Stockade Tavern, at 313 Fair Street, which specializes in artfully crafted cocktails. The area is definitely having a resurgence, notes Barbara Burns, who has run Stella’s Italian Restaurant, across the street from Boitson’s, with her husband Edward for 36 years. “It’s on an upswing.” The cluster of fine eateries, which serve a variety of cuisines and vary in ambience from friendly family places to elegant French bistro, benefit from a sizable lunch crowd as well as patronage by locals and tourists in the evening.
Boitson’s, whose casually elegant, dark blue and gray décor was the work of Kingston interior designer Brian Early, opened June 4. “It’s been great, really busy,” said owner Maria Philippis. She named the eatery after her Brooklyn landlord, who had always encouraged her to open her own place. Boitson’s has a raw bar, and it’s open for lunch and dinner Thursday through Monday. Burgers, fried chicken, steak, trout, and a beet risotto are served every night, along with five or six specials cooked up by chef Fred Duffus. The prices range from $10 for a burger to $25 for a New York strip steak. Bread pudding, chocolate pot de crème, and lemon tart are among the delectable desserts. There’s a full bar.
Be sure to check out the frescos in the bathrooms, which were inspired by sailor’s tattoos and are the work of New York artist Impala. There’s also a deck in back, with a view of the Catskills. Philippis said she is drawing customers not just from the neighborhood but also Rhinebeck, Stone Ridge, and High Falls—and that’s without advertising.
Giovanna Vis and her husband, Paul Maloney, describe the Stockade Tavern as a traditional American drinking establishment. The federal mantel behind the bar, built- in seating beneath the Tudor windows and vintage frosted glass lights certainly are the perfect setting for a classic cocktail, with a fresh squeeze of lime. Prohibition killed the art of the cocktail, and Vis and Maloney are restoring that tradition. They serve 13 cocktails, ranging in price from $7 to $10, plus have four beers on tap, 20 beers in the bottle, and nine wines. Their Citron Presse—sparkling lemonade—can be served straight or spiked and is a delectable antidote to the summer heat.
The Stockade also has a selection of 15 comestibles to accompany the drinks, including a pickle platter and tin of sardines. Located in the former Singer Sewing Machine retail store—the “S” logo still graces the door—the Stockade opened on Memorial Day weekend. “We’ve had a few big nights,” said Vis. She said the couple love “being on a back street in the heart of Uptown.” The Stockade opens at 4 pm Thursday through Sunday.
Jean-Jacques Carquillat made Kingston a destination for authentic French cuisine when he opened his traditional bistro, Le Canard-Enchaine, at 276 Fair in 1996. The restaurant is open seven days a week, and its prix fixe lunch–$14.95 for an appetizer and entrée—is one of the best values around. Le Canard also added a prix fixe dinner, which is $25 for a three-course meal ($30 with a glass of the house red or white). Specials are available every day. Le Canard is open Sunday through Thursday.
At the Hoffman House, located at 94 North Front in a landmark, 330-year-old stone building, you experience Kingston’s history while feasting on a delicious lunch or continental inspired dinner. “We have a wide variety of appetizers, salads and full course dinners,” said Pat Bradley, who opened the restaurant 33 years ago with his wife, Virginia. “Everything’s fresh, and the menu changes daily.” Dinner entrees are around $22, while lunch is $12.50. Hoffman House is pleasantly intimate, with four dining rooms plus an outside patio and bar.
Pat said the restaurant has a loyal business lunch and city clientele that it’s built up over the past three decades. It also attracts tourists, and word of mouth accounts for many new customers. Hoffman House is open Monday through Saturday.
Stella’s Italian Restaurant, at 44 North Front, is a family owned and run business, with Barbara and Edward Burns’ five grown children all helping out. They started with Artie’s, the bar next door, eventually expanding to the restaurant, which was named after Barbara’s mother, who was a chef. Sitting down to a meal on its checked tablecloths is like being in the kitchen of an Italian grandmother. “It’s home cooking,” said Barbara. Perennial favorites are the chicken dishes—served sorrentino, marsala or francaise style—lasagna, and eggplant parmesan. Dinner entrees are priced from $11 up. Stella’s is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday through Saturday.
Ugly Gus Café and Bar, located at 11 Main St., across from the County Office Building, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this week, according to owner Chris Seche. The spacious eatery is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday through Saturday. It specializes in American cuisine, serving homemade soup and specialty sandwiches for lunch and steaks, pasta, fish and chicken for dinner, with specials every night. Particularly popular are the Big Ugly burgers, said Seche.
On Saturday night, Ugly Gus serves prime rib. Tuesdays in the summer it features a lobster bake, and Wednesday is frozen margarita night. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday to midnight (1 pm on weekends). Seche said before opening Ugly Gus he owned another restaurant in Uptown and loves the area. “There’s a lot of business,” he said. “A lot of people who come for lunch are within walking distance.”
Stefan Sanzi opened Maxwell’s @ Community Gourmet at 32 North Front three years ago. The restaurant is offering outdoor seating on the site of the former parking garage, turning a former eyesore into a wonderful al fresco dining experience. It serves lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, with a great selection of salads, sandwiches, appetizers, and pizzas. Four kinds of pasta are served, and a roasted half chicken, pan seared scallops, and herb roasted salmon are among the regular entrees, which are priced from $15 to $21.